Patrick McNally kicked off Harvard hockey team for learning nothing from a class about Congress

Patrick McNally was the Canucks first pick in the 2010 draft, taken in the 4th round because Vancouver traded the three prior picks away for — brace yourselves — Keith Ballard, Steve Bernier, and Andrew Alberts.

(Sad trombone.)

McNally was a highly-touted prospect but he dropped to the fourth round because most teams were put off by plans to go to yucky ol’ Harvard. A degree from Harvard may impress, but they aren’t known for churning out NHL ready prospects.

The Canucks, on the other hand, love them some college players and snapped him up at 115th overall, fully comfortable with McNally playing for the Crimson and living the life of a Harvard athlete, which includes developing as a player, furthering himself intellectually, and having an idea for a social networking site stolen by a vengeful tech prodigy.

Unfortunately, McNally doesn’t play for the Crimson anymore. The offensive defenceman was one of four students kicked off the team’s 2012-13 roster for what appears to be his involvement in an academic scandal.

What was the scandal? It seems to surround a Government class (Introduction to Congress) and an investigation into nearly half of the class’s 279 students collaborating on answers (i.e. plagiarizing one another) on the take-home final exam.

(They should have known better. If you learn anything from a class on Congress, it should be that nothing is ever solved by over 100 people purposing to work together.)

The class was one that had gained a reputation for being easy, which may be a part of why it was packed with student-athletes. But then, it totally wasn’t easy, perhaps because the instructor looked up on the first day of classes, saw all the student-athletes, realized he was teaching a sluff class and decided to add a few more peppers to the sauce. The result? Worst class ever. From the NY Times:

“It was one of the hardest courses I’ve had here,” said a student, a junior, who was in the course but is not being investigated. He did not want to give his name because he said the university had instructed students in the class not to comment publicly during the investigation.

“The take-home exam was given over a weekend,” said the student, a former athlete at Harvard. “And it took all of that; it pretty well ruined my weekend. There were many written essays to many questions. Often, when a professor gets a reputation for being easy, he’ll ramp things up in the next year. I think that’s what may have happened. Some people thought they could coast and instead they got in over their heads and had to look for a way out at the end.”

The search for a way out led to a bunch of students getting nailed, and it would appear McNally was one of them.

Now, we don’t know for sure. Maybe he just got busted for an attempt to kidnap Handsome Dan.

Either way, McNally’s removal from the team poses something of a conundrum for Vancouver. As Thomas Drance points out, he’s too old for major junior. But if he signs a pro deal, like, say, an entry-level deal with the Canucks, he loses his collegiate eligibility and can’t go back to Harvard.

That said, McNally didn’t seem to worried about finishing his degree when he attended the Canucks prospects development camp in the summer of 2010. From

“I talked about that with a lot of teams,” said McNally, who has been told by more than one scout that his style of play is similar to that Washington Capitals defenceman Mike Green. “I think I’d be willing [to turn pro] after two years, if the team thought I was ready and if I thought I was ready, to maybe make the jump. But at this time, I can’t really say.”

“It’s really up to the Canucks organization,” he added. “But I’m hoping that I’ll be ready as soon as I possibly can be.”

If McNally’s willing to leave school after two years, well, this would have been his second year. Might the Canucks sign him to an ELC a little earlier than planned?

If I were his FBI agent Dad, I would strongly advise against it. McNally’s not a lock to make the NHL, and even if he was, he’d still be one career-ending injury away from wishing he had his Harvard degree. But McNally’s quote suggests that he’s more committed to hockey than to his schooling. (So does the academic scandal, if you think about it.) If he wants to keep his pro career on track, turning pro is logical next step. I’d except an announcement at some point.

The Canucks won’t comment on his plans, but Laurence Gilman did confirm that McNally’s spoken to Dave Gagner, so McNally is undoubtedly aware of his options, which are limited at this point. He can’t play for a nearby USHL team like his teammates, as he is too old, but sitting out the year seems like a terrible idea for his development.

Granted, nothing says “NHLer” these days like missing a year of hockey. 

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  1. steveB
    December 12, 2012

    urge to flip pool rising….
    Nope, I just can’t summon the rage anymore.
    Fehr & Bettman have just about killed my interest in hockey.

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    • Marcus
      December 12, 2012

      PITB has ruined “flipping the pool”, its supposed to be a good thing. Done when celebrating a Cross Country meet.

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  2. pooroldbearandelkandducksandunicorn
    December 12, 2012

    They should have known better. If you learn anything from a class on Congress, it should be that nothing is ever solved by over 100 people purposing to work together. – nice

    Seriously, a take-home final exam? That shouldn’t be allowed in any case. Sounds like a lame prof.

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    • Gabe
      December 13, 2012

      I dunno, “can you or can you not game the system and get away with it” sounds like a great practical exam on Congress to me.

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  3. Dougster
    December 13, 2012

    All I want for Christmas is…. PITB analyzing the Canucks games! I can’t believe we are this close to losing the whole season….

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