Caps move on from Hendricks, Ribiero
A few days after saying his academics were improving and that he was looking forward to returning for his third season at Western Michigan, Capitals defensive prospect Garrett Haar confirmed Saturday he has decided to leave college and is pursuing a career with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League.
“Honestly, I just want to be able to play,” said Haar, who was ruled academically ineligible to play this fall. “I didn’t want to have to sit out half the year. I wasn’t in a good spot at Western.”
On Friday Western Michigan head coach Andy Murray confirmed that Haar was being released by the Broncos, but in a tweet, Haar said it was his decision.
“I met with Garrett more in the two years that he was here than I’ve met with any player I’ve ever coached in my career in wanting to help him,” Murray told MLive Media Group.
“We feel for Garrett and his family, but ultimately our team comes first.”
On Friday, Haar tweeted "I did not get kicked off Western Michigan, this was my decision #layoff."
Haar will turn 20 next month, which would give Medicine Hat six overage players, three more than is allowed in Canadian Major Junior. Capitals general manager George McPhee said it’s his understanding that Medicine Hat will make room for Haar on its roster.
“He was really well coached at Western but it didn’t work out academically, so he’s going to go play junior and that won’t hurt,” McPhee said. “That’ll be good for his development.”
Two years ago McPhee said Haar was the” surprise” of the 2011 development camp. On Saturday he said he is not as far along as the Caps would have hoped.
“But this is going to be really good for him to play 60 or 70 games,” McPhee said. “If you’re not a great student and things aren’t going to go well, go play junior. If that’s your dream to develop into a National Leaguer.”
Murray, who spent 20 years coaching in the NHL and internationally, said his coaching staff tried its best to keep Haar on the right path.
“We gave him every bit of academic assistance we could, including having people walk him to class, tutors and everything we could do,” Murray said, “but you have to be committed to it and unfortunately he wasn’t.
“There were issues of integrity between the coaches and his teammates that were not at an acceptable level.”
In two seasons with Western Michigan Haar appeared in 58 games, recording 17 points (4 goals, 13 assists). He missed 16 games with a back injury last season.
Haar said he’s excited to write a new chapter for his hockey career.
“This is a fresh start for me and I’m looking forward to going down a new journey,” he said.