| The Detroit News
Freshman defenseman Owen Power on Michigan conference call
Michigan freshman defenseman Owen Power talks about the team’s 4-0 start and the weekend series against Notre Dame.
Hockey Canada’s Scott Salmond put to rest any possibility that Wolverines phenom Owen Power could be invited to the Canadian selection camp after the first half of the University of Michigan’s hockey season on Dec. 10.
With camp temporarily shut down after two players tested positive for COVID-19 and the team’s coaches, players and staff quarantined in hotel rooms for 14 days until Dec. 6 in Red Deer, Alberta, Salmond was asked on Toronto TSN 1050 radio on Monday if Canada would consider Michigan coach Mel Pearson’s original offer of releasing Power after the Wolverines (4-2) play the Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-0) at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor on Dec. 9.
Pearson cited academic concerns as the main reason he wouldn’t release the 6-5, 215-pound defenseman and potential No. 1 draft pick for the 2021 NHL draft to attend the camp ahead of the world junior championships at the end of December.
“I think at this point, the door is closed (to inviting Power to camp),” said Salmond, the vice president of Canada’s national hockey teams.
“Mel and I did talk again yesterday. I like Mel. He’s actually been really great to deal with and he’s in a difficult position there. We agreed to disagree on his thoughts on Owen. We would’ve loved to have him here at the start.
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“Based on our quarantine, it might’ve made it more difficult for him to come given the sacrifice these guys have made. Really when you come out after 14 days, you know for sure that you’re COVID free. There’s just nobody coming out of your room. It’s impossible to get COVID basically.
“Our focus after that would have to be to keep it that way. To introduce somebody else into that mix would be difficult but probably your next question is going to be, ‘OK, what about Alexis Lafreniere?” The answer to that is . . . yes. He’s going to be able to come in and quarantine. He was always a part of the original plan.”
Lafreniere, the MVP of last year’s world junior tournament in the Czech Republic with 10 points in five games for the gold-medal winning Canadian team, was the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft by the New York Rangers.
With the NHL and player’s union in a stalemate about starting the 2020-2021 season on Jan. 1 and with the junior showcase running from Dec. 25-Jan. 5, the Rangers might allow Lafreniere, 19, to join the Canadian team in the secure-zone bubble in Edmonton, similar to what the NHL designed for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Power, an 18-year-old freshman who TSN director of scouting Craig Button said “unquestionably” would’ve made the Canadian team, was on the road Tuesday with the fourth-ranked Wolverines, who will face the Penn State Nittany Lions (0-4) in the first of a two-game series on Wednesday at Pegula Ice Arena in State College, Pennsylvania.
Michigan is coming off two straight losses at home against Notre Dame with Power posting a team-worst minus-4 during last weekend’s sweep. Overall, the native of Mississauga, Ontario, has one goal, three assists and is plus-3 in six games.