Brandon Hynes has had to make some tough decisions throughout the course of his hockey career and he’s recently made another one.
The 21-year-old from Norris Point will not be returning to St. Francis Xavier University to play hockey with the X-Men in the fall. Instead, he’s chosen to pursue a professional career once again.
“I won’t go too deep into a lot of details ... what was supposed to happen for me to get a degree with all the scholarships applied, it didn’t follow through that way,” he said earlier this week. “Yes, I did pass. Yes, I could go back, but the way I look at it right now is, when I’m ready I can still get the same scholarship.
“I can do that at any point in time, it doesn’t have to be done now,” he added. “So that’s a part of my decision making.”
As far as professional contracts, nothing is 100 per cent yet for the goalscoring winger, but he says there are a couple of options.
He said there’s an offer from the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors and its parent club the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolf Pack to go back to the same deal he had last season.
“I’m not 110 per cent sure that’s the route I want to take,” he said.
The other scenario involves him heading overseas, with the likeliest destinations being the Elite. A, the top tier of hockey in Italy, or the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, which is the Austrian hockey league.
His agent, Alain Roy, pointed Hynes in the direction of Tony Fiore, an agent in Montreal who specializes in procuring European contracts for North American players.
Hynes said Fiore is more optimistic about his opportunity in the Italian league, though he also told Hynes another year in the ECHL to boost his asking price in Europe wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
“But he thinks Europe would be my cup of tea,” said Hynes. “So maybe one of these days that will be a different road for me.”
Hynes scored 16 points (6G-10A) in 14 games with the X-Men last season, though he was held pointless in two playoff games. When he left the Road Warriors just before Christmas, he departed as the team’s leading scorer with 14 points (7G-7A) in 20 games.
He said staying in North America would obviously be the most comfortable choice for him, but that’s not what’s going to influence his decisions at this point.
“It’s all about if you’re willing to go all in and make a living playing hockey,” he said. “It’s totally how much you want to make and where you want to go to make it.”
In the long run, he said he can never rule out earning another opportunity to play in the AHL or even, despite it being a long shot, the National Hockey League.
“My goal is to play at the highest level I can,” he said. “If that’s in Europe and playing, let’s say somewhere similar to what Jason King did ... he made most of his living over in Europe and he’s living a pretty good life.
“I mean, you can’t really complain about that.”
At this juncture, however, he feels he needs to play professionally now to have any shot at that kind of future.
“I’d be kidding if I said I didn’t want to play in the NHL or AHL; that’d be ideal,” he said. “But how realistic is it without being established in the pros? Probably not really, until you go face and eyes into it and really go all out.”
Hynes said he expects a final decision to be made within a week or so.
“It’s starting to heat up pretty good there now,” he said. “It’s getting to that point where we’re wanting to get something done.”