Sad departure: 5 key players depart Canadiens due to

Stu Cowan: Canadiens first-round pick Michael Hage smart to take NCAA route

Montreal fans got their first look at Michael Hage in a Canadiens sweater during last week’s development camp at the CN Sports Complex in Brossard.

They won’t get to see Hage in bleu-blanc-rouge again until next summer’s development camp because the first-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft (21st overall) is headed to the University of Michigan and NCAA eligibility rules don’t allow players to take part in the main NHL training camps.

“It was the route I wanted to take,” Hage said after the camp wrapped up last Friday when asked about taking the university path instead of major-junior after posting 33-42-75 totals in 54 games last season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel. “I mean, I own my decision. It was the decision I made when I was 16, 17 years old and I honestly like the path I’m on.

“I think going to school is a really good opportunity for me to get better, challenge myself at a different level next year,” Hage added. “It’s what kind of comes with going to college. Obviously, it sucks not being able to come to training camp. I think for me it’s just worrying about showing up to Michigan’s camp and just being myself and playing my game.”

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Going to Michigan is a smart decision by the 18-year-old centre from Mississauga, Ont., who was measured at 6-feet and 185 pounds at development camp. He will need to gain weight and strength before he’s ready to play in the NHL.

“Two games a week, so you have that chance to hit the weight room,” Rob Ramage, the Canadiens’ director of player development, said when asked about Hage’s decision to go to Michigan. “It’s a great program, obviously. They’ve put a lot of guys in the NHL, so I think it’s a good development path for him.”

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