By Ryan McCracken on April 12, 2018.
Mark Rassell has opted to play the field.
The outgoing Medicine Hat Tigers captain says he will spend his summer working toward landing a professional contract with a National Hockey League team while fielding offers from various post-secondary institutions.
I called my agent (Wednesday) and told him I’m starting to look into the schooling option as well. I’m going to start accepting recruiting trips, fly out and look at those options,” said Rassell, who scored 50 goals with the Tigers this season. “He said that’s almost better for pro because I wouldn’t sign an AHL deal, I’d sign a tryout deal with the intention of earning an NHL contract, so that works well for me. I can look at all my options and choose where I want to go for development camp this summer and into the fall. I can basically say, ‘I’m getting an NHL deal from you or I’m going to school.'”
Rassell says his original plan was to sign a professional contract with an AHL club after finishing his season in Medicine Hat, but the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on Friday evening — which left 16 dead and 13 injured after a semi-trailer hit the team bus while heading to a playoff game in Nipawin — changed the way teams were approaching late-season signings.
“We were pushing pretty hard for that (AHL deal) and struggling a bit. The Humboldt crash kind of put a halt on everything,” he said. “A lot of teams stopped dealing in hockey operations and started kind of sending their condolences and worrying about that. The whole world kind of went on pause.”
One of those involved in the crash was Tigers prospect Layne Matechuk. The 18-year-old defenceman spent his year playing with the Broncos after missing the cut in Medicine Hat, and Rassell says his heart dropped when he heard the horrific news.
“When I saw his face in the picture, he was in the background of the picture, it was pretty upsetting knowing I knew one of the guys who is going to be affected for the rest of his life having gone through that,” said Rassell. “It hit so many people so close to home because everyone knows someone who played junior hockey In Canada.”
Rassell visited his hometown University of Calgary Wednesday and says he will spend the next few weeks looking into various post-secondary offers across the country. The 21-year-old left winger started using his Western Hockey League scholarship while playing with the Tigers and says he plans to go into business as a potential backup.
“I took three business related courses over my four years so it’s been good,” he said. “Obviously the WHL really helps with the transition. I have a lot of resources at hand that I can use to smooth my transition, but taking those three courses during my career in Medicine Hat really opens the door. Now schools know where I’m at academically and what I’m capable of,” he said. “I was telling schools to hold off based on the premise that I had the potential to finish the season in the AHL but obviously now that’s not happening. So I’m going to start contacting some of those schools, who were all very polite and understanding that pro was my intention.”
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