Comparing College Hockey to the Pros

The first few years that college hockey players play professionally have a tendency to be either feast or famine.  Some players like Jonathan Toews, Joe Pavelski, Zach Parise, Blake Wheeler and Dany Heatley adjust their games quickly to pro level, while others like Kyle Turris, Kevin Porter, Ryan Duncan and T. J. Hensick struggle adapting their games to the faster professional pace.

Current Nashville Predators goaltender Mark Dekanich is a player that has had lot of success in his young professional career.  Dekanich’s success came after he excelled playing four years of Division 1 college hockey at Colgate University.  The 2005-2006 season was the Raiders’ best of the past decade, as Dekanich, then a sophomore, backstopped Colgate to ECAC regular season championship.

Recently Dekanich chatted with me about the differences between playing college hockey and professional hockey:

Which is more difficult, playing college hockey or professional hockey?

Dekanich: “In college we had a lot more to do.  We practiced everyday just like we do now, but after practiced we had to go home and read for class, write papers, prepare for tests and do other things like that.  It is actually less work as a professional.  When were done at the rink, we’re done for the day, so after that I have to go home and try find something for myself to do to pass the rest of the day away.”

What are some some of things you learned from your college experience that paid off during your time as a professional?

Dekanich: “There were a lot of things I had to learn like living on my own.  That helped prepare me for things like cooking for myself now that I play pro.”

To read more from my interview with Dekanich, check out my feature on the netminder on

So Roundtable, this year’s Admirals feature several ex-college players, such as Blake Geoffrion, Ryan Flynn, Chris Mueller, Scott Ford, Grant Lewis, Mike Barlett, Mark Van Guilder and Ryan Thang.
Which players have adjusted their games the best to the professional level, which are still a work in progress, and which are too early to tell?

2 thoughts on “Comparing College Hockey to the Pros”

  1. Blake Geoffrion, Ryan Flynn, Chris Mueller, Scott Ford, Grant Lewis, Mike Barlett, Mark Van Guilder and Ryan Thang.

    So far this year it looks like Mueller has stepped it up the most, Barlett has shown signs as well Ford is a good player and probably a future captain, yet he caught the injury bug last year and it hurt his development a little. Blake will be awesome. He showed a ton of promise in last year’s playoffs. Just needs a little more time to catch his stride. Thang and Flynn need some more seasoning, their play has been way too inconsistent. Van Guilder have been decent yet he need to step up his games to become more than a role player.

    Every player listed can become a good every night player. It will be nice to see them develop further.

  2. Mueller has probably been the best so far. Hope he gets a shot at the All-Star game this year if he keeps it up.

    I think some of the younger guys do need a little bit more time to find tune their game for the professional level. Only time will tell.

    I wish there was more of a streamline of talent to the professional level. There are so many different avenues that a player can come up in. I think hockey would be a bit more popular here in the US if you could follow a player right into the pros a bit easier. I know that is probably not possible with all the overseas influence but it would be nice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s