Chicago Blackhawks Mikael Hakkarainen’s Return to the USHLOctober 17, 2018
By now it’s common knowledge that Mikael Hakkarainen has returned to the USHL. Initially committed to Providence University, Hakkarainen made an abrupt decision to come back to the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
Hakkarainen shares a similar story to most of his European counterparts. Originally from Finland, Mikael came to the United States to play hockey. Though a college commitment is often the path that is taken out of the USHL, not all actually want to pursue that path. Mikael is one of them.
Chicago Blackhawks Draft Pick Mikael Hakkarainen
Being selected by the Blackhawks earlier this year, Mikael was one step closer to achieving his pro dream. Not receiving a Training Camp invite, Mikael packed up and shipped off to Providence. Following a series of unfortunate events at Providence, the Chicago Blackhawks draftee decided that the USHL was where he was going to finish his development. Mikael told Access Hockey MI in a post-game interview, “I had problems with the academic side. I had a hard time combining academics and hockey – I couldn’t focus 100% on hockey.” Like many in his position, college isn’t the dream – just an added bonus.
Hakkarainen Welcomed Home
Despite a few leftover hurt feelings, Hakkarainen is elated to be back. Having spent the previous two seasons with Muskegon, it was like coming home. The team and staff were more than happy to welcome him back as well. “The guys took me in like I’ve been here all year,” Mikael said. Hakkarainen, averaging a point-per-game player and being in the top of the USHL during 2017-18 in that category, is a huge boost to the Lumberjacks. The offensive ability of Mikael and the familiarity with his teammates will propel the team to great success.
What Remains to be Seen
It’s unclear what the plan after the USHL is for Hakkarainen. With no immediate plans to return to Providence, and no other college pursuing him yet, Mikael is undecided. “If the school is academically easy, I’d do it. Of course, I have to put in the work…” Hakkarainen said. Having the ability to balance education and hockey is no easy task. However, given the right school, it can be achieved. Though Mikael hopes to receive an invite to the NHL Prospect Tournament next September from Chicago, there are no guarantees. He has to keep improving, skating, and scoring while he’s got the development time.