By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
Yasin Cissé, who left the Boston University men’s hockey team earlier this week after an up-and-down two and a half years, agreed to join the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on Wednesday.
Cissé is the second Terrier to leave the team mid-season in favor of the QMJHL in the last 12 months, following in the steps of forward Charlie Coyle, who left BU in December 2011 to join the Saint John Sea Dogs.
BU head coach Jack Parker spoke Wednesday about Cissé’s departure, and touched on a variety of topics, including how Cissé’s decision came about, his time at BU, his future in hockey and the effect it has on the team.
Here’s a full transcript of Parker’s comments:
So did you not know until Tuesday night that Cissé was leaving?
I think Cissé’s been planning on leaving for two and a half years. Two days ago when I told him he wasn’t going to dress for the next game, he went out and practiced hard the rest of that practice. I told him before practice. He went out and practiced hard, then he came in Monday night right after practice and told me he wanted to leave. And he wants to leave because he’s upset [because] he doesn’t want to fight for a position, he wasn’t progressing the way he wants to progress, and he wants to go play major junior hockey before he’s too old to do that.He left on good terms with me and I know he left on good terms with every one of his teammates. He addressed his team I think before he even addressed me, he addressed the team and told them that. So it’s not unexpected. He’s a real good kid and a real good character kid. He’s just not happy with — he doesn’t see himself as a third-line, fourth-line guy. He wants to be a first-line guy.
What got in the way of his development here at BU?
I think first he really struggled with missing two whole years. He never really recovered from that, I don’t think. That’s been the biggest part of it. Physically he’s recovered but he doesn’t have his game back.
And you know, he’s just not producing. I think he played half the year this year on the first line. And the other half he played on the third line, and he doesn’t have a goal. There’s just not things happening for him.
We put him on the first line because I thought he was getting better and I wanted to give him some confidence, and it wasn’t like he was becoming a big star and we moved him up to the first line. We wanted to give him some confidence. And even then, it wasn’t — it’s just not enough to get him going.
Did anybody take issue with him leaving in the middle of the season, with two games left in the semester?
No, not his teammates. I certainly didn’t.
I’m not in the business of making 20-year-olds or 21-year-olds miserable. He’s very unhappy. He’s really struggling in every phase of his life because hockey’s not going the way he wants it to go.
Was he not having a good time in Boston/at BU?
I think he loved BU, I think he loved his teammates, I think he loved everything about the place. But when I talk to my former players who are pro players always wondering if they should hold out or sign with a different team, you always know from talking to these guys their life is great if hockey’s going great. These are guys that are 25-year-old, 30-year-old guys. They’re married with kids. If hockey’s going well, their life is going well. If hockey isn’t going well, it doesn’t matter if his kids are getting all A’s in school — his life stinks! It’s lousy.
And I think that’s true of these kids here. They’re here to be student-athletes, but part of it is they want to be BU hockey players. They want to get what they think they deserve out of it. He wasn’t getting what he wanted to get out of it, so he was miserable.
Will he be able to improve playing in the QMJHL?
I don’t think anybody can improve better playing in [major] juniors.
Charlie Coyle put up big numbers — can Cissé?
It doesn’t mean [Coyle was] better. [Laughs.] He’s playing against 17-year-olds.
Charlie Coyle was a first-line player here. Cissé was not a first-line player. I don’t think he’ll put up the same production.
[Editor’s note: When Coyle left in December 2011, he had actually been playing on the second line. Cissé had played on the first line much of this season.]
I hope he does [succeed]. I wish him nothing but the best and I hope he’s a big star and gets to the NHL. It’ll be great for him. But I don’t know if that’s going to happen.
Was he ever close to leaving in the past?
I think he’s been close to leaving from the day he got here.
How close was he to pulling the trigger?
I have no idea. Some of his teammates have told me, yeah, he’s been one foot out the door for two and a half years — and they all like him.
It’s not like he was never on the team. They all like him. They think he’s a great guy. They think he’s a good teammate, but he was just never happy.
Did he come back this year, as opposed to leaving over the summer, as one last chance at BU?
I think he started off on the first line in the beginning of the year, we wanted him to make a big jump. We were trying to get a couple of guys we talked about — Hohmann and Rodrigues and Privitera and Cissé. We thought we were a good team if those guys make a big jump. So we gave him every opportunity to step into a better role than he had his first year playing.
How will this affect the team chemistry-wise?
I don’t think it has anything to do with the team. It’s not like, ‘How are we going to replace his goals?’ It has to do with we lost a good friend, we lost a roommate. He lived with three other guys on the team. He’s a real good guy. And he is a terrific kid. So all that and he was really well liked.
He’s a real class act, he’s a good representative of this university. And now he’s not here, that’s bad. But as far as the hockey team is concerned it isn’t [a factor]. Some guys are happy they’ll get more ice time.
I don’t think they’re bemoaning the fact that “Well, how can we go on without Cissé?’
Have you decided who’s going to take his spot in the lineup?
It was already decided before. He was not going to be in the lineup. Sahir Gill is going to play right wing on the first line and Moran is going to take Gill’s spot on the third line. That was already decided before Yas made his decision.
So what happens if a forward goes down?
[Knocks on the wall, then a wood table.] We got guys we could put. First of all we have two more forwards [junior Matt Ronan and senior Jake Moscatel]. In reality Matty can play both forward and defense. So we have that going for us.
We also have the fact that we could move somebody up front from the defensemen. And if we had to, we could go with seven defenseman and three and a half lines. People have survived that before.
It would be nice to have more competition for spots. It would be nice to have depth in case you do get a rash of injuries, but we’ll be able to cover a few injuries.