Crowley to remain at U

Michael Rand

Mike Crowley, a junior defenseman on the Gophers hockey team, decided late Sunday night to reject the latest contract offer from the NHL’s Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Unless the Ducks make a counter-offer during the summer, Crowley said, he is planning to return to Minnesota for his senior season.
“As of right now, I’m planning on coming back,” he said. “I just want to get a fair deal. I’ve said all along that it’s not worth it to sign just to sign. To miss my senior year, they would have to make it worth it.”
Crowley said it was a difficult decision but one he was comfortable making.
“I only have one senior year,” he said. “I have nothing but great memories of the U. Money can’t cover that.”
Crowley declined to comment on the value of Anaheim’s latest offer, but he did say it was a two-year deal.
At Crowley’s request, Ducks’ officials set June 1 as a deadline for hammering out a contract. Although he rejected the last offer before the deadline, Anaheim could still make an offer later this summer. Crowley, who is taking classes during the summer, said he will listen to subsequent offers.
“I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t take it,” Crowley said. “But if they never called me to make me another offer this summer, I’d be more than happy to play next year at the U.”
He had hoped the June 1 deadline would give closure to a process he described as “dragging on” during the past three months. Crowley said that because Anaheim representatives told him they still might give him the contract he’s looking for later this summer, he feels he’s in limbo.
“I wish it was done and over with. If it were up to me, it would be over with,” Crowley said. “It’s not that much fun. People ask you what you’re doing, and you don’t know what to say. I’m relieved that at least one portion is over.”
In the course of making his decision, Crowley said he talked to family members, friends and teammates, including former Gophers defenseman Dan Trebil, who now plays with Anaheim.
For the most part, however, there was only one person left to make the decision.
“You can’t talk to a whole lot of people about it because you don’t know who to talk to,” Crowley said. “I talked to Trebil about it, and he could see both sides. He’s having a great time (with Anaheim), but he also had a great time his senior year.”
If Crowley’s choice holds up during the summer, it would obviously bolster the Gophers. The Bloomington Jefferson graduate led Minnesota in scoring last year and is a two-time All-American and a two-time finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given to the nation’s top college player.
The Gophers entered last season having to replace 10 departed seniors. With Crowley and goaltender Steve DeBus likely to return, the team could go into next season needing to replace less than half that number of players.
Crowley mentioned the possibility of winning a national championship — something the Gophers haven’t done since 1979 — as another factor that makes returning for another year appealing.
“If it works out, and I come back, that would mean a lot,” he said. “Maybe it was meant to be. I want to play at the next level, but that will be there next year.”