Mark Divver knows a thing or two about hockey and its impact on the New England community.
If it wasn’t apparent before, it surely is now after the legendary sportswriter joined host Kirk Luedeke on the first episode of New England Hockey Journal’s RinkWise podcast.
From his decades-long work at the Providence Journal covering local prospects, colleges and the AHL’s Providence Bruins, Divver has a well-earned reputation as a top media professional in the hockey world.
While semi-retired and working in more of a freelance role, including his weekly in-season College Confidential column at NEHJ, Divver remains as involved and tapped into the local hockey scene as ever with a breadth of knowledge on all things pro, college, junior, Midget, prep hockey and beyond.
During their near hourlong chat, Luedeke and Divver discuss a variety of topics, ranging from the summer prospect scene to the upcoming college hockey season, Boston Bruins development camp and more.
As the session progressed, Luedeke prodded Divver’s insight on the college hockey landscape to see how things are shaping up ahead of the fast-approaching season in conferences across the country. For starters, what are his thoughts on the impact of the NCAA adding an extra year of eligibility and allowing immediate transfers?
“I think the rich get richer,” Divver told RinkWise listeners. “If you’re a good player on a lower-level team, the top teams are going to be coming after you and saying, ‘Hey, why don’t you come play with us?’ You get a chance to play in the (NCAA) tournament and advance yourself that way.
“I get why they allowed kids an extra year of eligibility after what happened with COVID last year, I’m not sure I understand the opening up of the transfer portal. Yeah, it’s great for the players because the coaches have had the power to cut kids and pretty much ease them out of their scholarships if they so choose, but I think it’s not going to help in terms of parity.”
Diving deeper into the college realm on the ice, how does he see things playing out in Hockey East, and beyond?
“Hockey East, I think, will be a dogfight like it always is,” Divver said. “I’m expecting UMass, the defending national champ, to be very good again. BU should be good. You look at their roster and there’s a lot of weapons there.
“BC lost an incredible amount of top players, but they’ll replace them with good players, too, so they’ll be a threat. Providence — don’t count out the Friars. You know they’ll be well-coached and they’ve got some kids who are looking to take another step … Northeastern has a lot of talent, and a goalie now, Devon Levi, who hasn’t played a college game, but if you go off the way he played in world juniors last year for Canada, he’ll be a top goalie in the league, I would expect”
As the episode wrapped up following a comprehensive back-and-forth on the national college landscape, Luedeke tested Divver’s on-the-spot answering prowess with Rapid Fire, a weekly RinkWise segment covering a variety of hockey-based topics in quick succession.
Who will win the Beanpot? What about the Hobey Baker? How will the newly hired NCAA head coaches fare in their first seasons on the job? Who are the top pro prospects — both drafted and undrafted — in the Bruins organization heading into 2021-22?
Divver lends insight and answers to all of those questions and more on the first episode of NEHJ’s RinkWise.
RinkWise is sponsored by the 2021 IceBreaker Tournament and Bruce Haas’ “Great Game!: D1 College Hockey: People, Places, Perspectives.”