April 1 2010, 10:26 AM
One issue for a college hockey team loaded with talented players is the really good ones will leave early. It's not a bad thing, necessarily, but it happens a lot, and the University of Denver Pioneers is the latest team to deal with it. First to go? Sophomore forward Joe Colborne has left the team to sign with the Boston Bruins, according to The Denver Post. Colborne led DU with 22 goals this season and could see his first start in the NHL system with the Bruins' American Hockey League affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island, as soon as tomorrow. Colborne was drafted by the Bruins in 2008 but continued to play with DU to develop his skills. He says the Bruins allowed him to focus on helping DU win a national championship this year, and after the team flamed out of the tournament last week, the Bruins were ready to bring him up. "It was a tough decision, a bittersweet feeling," Colborne says. The three-year contract he signed, worth $787,500 annually, probably made the decision a little easier. The Post reports that two other players are mulling offers from NHL teams. Patrick Wiercioch, a sophomore defenseman, is considering a deal with the Ottawa Senators, and Marc Cheverie, the team's star junior goalie, has received an offer from the Florida Panthers. The DU Clarion, the school's student newspaper, points out that the school is used to players jumping ship for the NHL. An average of two players per year sign contracts with pro teams and bounce out of Denver. Team coach George Gwozdecky says he'd be concerned if players weren't being pulled up to the NHL. "If it never happened before, it would be [frustrating]," Gwozdecky says. "But it's constant for us. It happened last year and the year before. It's just part of the program. You don't like to see it happen....You want to have those guys around for four years."