AIC Hockey Head Coach Eric Lang on the one-time transfer rule: “Adapt or get run over”

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Eric Lang, Head Coach of American International College (AIC) Hockey, took some time to discuss the implications of the soon to be passed transfer rule authorizing a one time transfer in all sports without sitting out for a year as one was previously required to do in men’s hockey. Lang is not for or against the rule as written, and was quite honest about what it means for his staff.

As he said rather succinctly:

“Adapt or get run over in this business. Although I am not a proponent of players leaving for greener pasture. I believe just like anything in life their are great instances for how this should and could work. A player who is not playing, a coaching change, a drastic change to an institutional financial  commitment are all common sense measures for why a player should leave. Our concern at AIC is the family advisor back channeling to get a better situation for a player is very dangerous for us. I believe was not the intent or spirit of the rule.”

One thing not addressed in the proposed rule that Lang is concerned about is third-party back channeling via a player advisor.

He explains clearly:

“Our concern at AIC is the family advisor back channeling to get a better situation for a player is very dangerous for us. I believe was not the intent or spirit of the rule.” That is a situation that merits further examiniation by relevant authorities in the NCAA to promote open transperancy if causal links could be found. For instance, if an advisor is steering a lot of their players to a top NCHC school from any Atlantic Hockey school, those conference members would probably want to work with the NCAA to search for a causal link, and improper relationships.

Throughout our many conversations with Lang, it is clear that he is a strong proponent of player development, as of today, AIC has one player in the portal, while it has gotten commits from two fourth or fifth year transfers. Brian Rigali of the University of Conneticut played four years for the Huskies, and Chris Van Os Shaw played three for Minnesota State, in a more limited role than Rugali. For fifth year players, more considerations than on ice time come into play. Not every school wil provide funding for fifth year scholarships to players at an equal measure, and perhaps Rigali’s program was not available for a fifth year either.

As for development, Lang pointed out a pertinent example on his own team of the value of working to grow in this game he has given his life to bettering.

“We have really taken the process and development of a player away. Sometimes in life it is a beautiful thing when you have the sticktuitivness to see something through and come out on the other side. Chris Dodero couldn’t play for us as a freshman as a senior he’s one of the best players in our conference and we play him in every situation.  He didn’t pack his bags and leave. He reinvented and developed himself and is a better player and person because of it.”

That is the balance all staffs will have to strike, while emphasizing the need for further development. While working to keep third parties from influencing decisions, the value of the rule is in helping the player. For example, Matthew Jennings is getting to play two hours away from his home at Alabama Huntsville in a more prominent role than he would have seen at Ohio State. Van Os Shaw comes to AIC with a chance to show the skill that made him highly recruited out of the AJHL. You do not put up 97 points in that league without a lot of skill that he has. Development takes everyone a little different amount of time at this level, and through battling injuries at Minnesota State, he has not had arguably the chance to show what he can do consistently at Minnesota State.

Although Lang guarantees no playing time for anyone on his team, Van Os Shaw will get a closer look at AIC, and every outlet that covers this league will have some reason to list him as a potential breakout player for AIC. For that to happen, he has to earn his shot at AIC through his day to day development, enough to earn a spot in the lineup, then replicate that each game, practice, and day. He is up to the challenge, and Lang is ready for the future of college hockey with the one time rule.

As Lang said in closing ” I come back to we will adapt to this modern day recruiting. I feel it could be dangerous to build an entire team this way.  At AIC we have made a living on being where nobody else is. So it could be an opportunity while everybody has their eyes on the portal we could be somewhere else.”

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