Jimmy Schuldt doesn’t blame college hockey players for leaving school early to turn pro. It just wasn’t something he wanted to do.
After last season, the St. Cloud State defenseman declined offers from NHL teams and opted to return to school for his senior season. The decision wasn’t an easy one, he admitted, but for him, it was the right one.
“I can understand for some when it’s time to go,” he said. “You get an opportunity, and it works out for a lot of guys. But I love college, I love college hockey. College hockey is different than any other sport. You can’t really replace that. At the next level it’s a business no matter where you are.”
‘I Will Always Say Stay’
For Schuldt, it’s all about enjoying the team experience. He felt the same way when he was at Minnetonka High School. He was in no hurry to jump to the next level, even when there were opportunities to do so then, too.
“My advice to young players is to stay,” he said. “That’s something I stand for, especially in high school. I will always say stay. So what if you have to play an extra year of juniors. It’s never bad to stay and play one more year.”
Schuldt played two seasons of junior hockey with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League before going to St. Cloud State. He said when he became a Husky, it was with the intent to play for four years.
“That’s what I committed to,” he said. “The biggest thing, at the end of the day, is this is such a special place and it means so much to me. To leave, I would have regretted it, that’s for sure.”
Not Just Talk
In his first three seasons of college hockey, Schuldt scored 83 points from his blue-line position, catching the eyes of several pro scouts. Certainly the scouts noticed his character, too. This year, he is in his third season as a Huskies captain, a leader that new coach Brett Larson has been able to count on from the moment he arrived at St. Cloud State.
“It’s not just talk with him,” Larson said. “In all honesty, he lives it. He’s certainly a high-end character who definitely puts the team first.
“His leadership is by inclusion. There are no freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors – just all Huskies. He wants to make everybody better for the good of the team. That’s how he lives it.”
Schuldt said he’s simply taking what he’s learned in his time at St. Cloud State and passing it on. He said the culture at the school is not built on players trying to earn pro contracts but, instead, on trying to make the Huskies the best they can be.
“It starts at the top,” he said. “Put the guy next to you first. If everyone does that, it makes it easier for everyone.”
There seems to be little doubt that Schuldt will get his shot at the NHL, a dream for any young hockey player. But he also has something special going on right now with his St. Cloud State teammates.
4 Tips for Putting the Team First
Here are some tips from Jimmy Schuldt on putting your team first: