The story of the year and the season hasn't even started yet. Jacob Trouba may never wear a Kitchener Rangers jersey, but he certainly has caused quite a bit of drama around town.
Just in case you've been under a rock, it essentially works like this. Trouba stated in 2010 that he didn't want to play in the CHL. He wanted to play for the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA. Naturally, the Rangers drafted him just like they drafted John Gibson in a similar manner. Difference between Gibson and Trouba is that Trouba appears set on going to Michigan where as Gibson changed his mind and came to Kitchener.
Seems pretty simple right? But it gets complicated. It's no secret that Rangers coach and GM Steve Spott wants Trouba in Kitchener. It's also no secret that he's been doing quite a bit of work trying to get him here. The story became interesting when the Winnipeg Jets drafted Trouba in June of this year. Should the Jets choose to sign Trouba, the story ends. He can't play in the NCAA with a pro contract in his back pocket. He'll either play in Winnipeg for the Jets, St. John's for the Ice Caps or in Kitchener for the Rangers.
So here's where it gets interesting. A story ran in the student paper The Michigan Daily that said the Kitchener Rangers had offered Trouba $200,000 to come play here. Obviously the Rangers quickly denied this rumour. The club quickly contacted a lawyer, and are now suing the paper for $1 million in damages.
Clearly things are finally coming to a head here. The NCAA and CHL have been rivals for prospects over the past few years and things have gotten pretty heated. Players like Gibson, Trouba, Cam Fowler, and countless others have been constantly fought over. It seems that a lot of players are going the CHL route after originally committing to the NCAA. This obviously causes quite a bit of bitterness on the NCAA's part, perhaps more so in their fans than in the actual league, but the point still stands. Since the Michigan Daily is a paper for a university, it is presumably written by journalism students (and this should be a good lesson for them). Students make mistakes, and it is entirely feasible that someone just didn't do the proper homework on this article.
At the end of the day the Kitchener Rangers are a community owned and operated non-profit organization who are audited yearly by an outside organization. While I don't doubt his accounting abilities, I find it hard to believe that CEO Steve Bienkowski could hide $200,000 from the eyes of the taxman and season ticket holders.
Clearly this story is far from over. My hope is that at the end of the Trouba Saga all these stories about payments under the table and all the other rumours surrounding the large OHL teams will disappear and we can get back to hockey. The NCAA and CHL are both great development leagues, and I hope it can be kept that way.