NHL players fire back at Jalen Ramsey: 'You can't even learn to skate in six months'

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It would take way more than six months for Jalen Ramsey to make the NHL … right? (AP Photo)
It would take way more than six months for Jalen Ramsey to make the NHL … right? (AP Photo)

In shocking news, a group of athletes have taken issue with a comment from Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. However, we aren’t talking about football players this time.

In one sentence of a wide-ranging feature from ESPN’s Mina Kimes last week, Ramsey threw out the idea that he could make the NHL after only six months of training, despite apparently never having skated in his life.

That predictably drew the ire of a few NHL players, who have spent quite a bit of time and effort working to become some of the best hockey players on Earth. Time and effort that Ramsey seems to undermine by saying he could do what they do with a half-year of practice. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan captured some of that ire in an article with comments from several of the NHL’s top players. They did not hold back.

NHL players not happy with Jalen Ramsey’s comments

Now, both sides have made some interesting points … actually, no, the NHL players are 100 percent right. Sure, Ramsey could be the most athletic player in the entire NHL, but all the athleticism in the world can’t buy the years of practice it takes to learn how to skate, learn how to skate like a hockey player and learn what it takes to be at the right place at the right time in a competitive hockey game.

Ramsey’s comments, at least as Kimes presents them, appear to stem from his past success trying lacrosse and dominating opponents once he figured out how to use his stick. If it worked for lacrosse, why not hockey?

Aside from baseball, which he says he lacks the coordination for, he’s excelled at every sport he’s ever tried. He picked up lacrosse for a season and, once he figured out how to handle the stick, ran circles around the competition. (“There’s not a lot of black people who do it,” he says, smiling.) He’s never tried skating, but if he trained for six months, he says, he could probably crack the NHL.

Of course, there are several factors that separate taking up lacrosse from taking up hockey. For starters, and this is pretty simple, Ramsey already knew how to move on a lacrosse field. As several NHL players pointed out, learning how to ice skate is a challenge in itself.

It’s also worth noting that whatever competition Ramsey “ran circles around,” it probably wasn’t as high a level of play as the NHL. Per CNN, the average salary of Major League Lacrosse, the nation’s top lacrosse league, comes in between $10,000 and $20,000. Meanwhile, the average NHL salary is easily in the millions. Ramsey would have a lot further to go than he did in lacrosse if he wants to become an elite hockey player.

One NHL player thinks Ramsey could make the league

Despite all the blowback toward Ramsey’s comments, at least has one NHL player who thinks he could make the league. Just not in six months.

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider told Kaplan that while he thinks Ramsey is underestimating how easy it would be to learn how to skate, he believes the cornerback would eventually play in the NHL thanks to sheer athleticism.

“It’s so funny to me,” Kreider said, before breaking down the mechanics: “I think he’s an unbelievable athlete, but skating is a skill set unto itself — just like running is, just like swimming is. Think of someone who has never swam before. If you’ve never been in the water before, no matter how good of an athlete you are, chances are, you’re not going to be an Olympic-caliber swimmer in six months.

“I’m sure with his pedigree and his athleticism he could play in the NHL, but it would take a lot longer than six months.”

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov was also welcoming toward Ramsey.

“I would like to see that, for sure,” Kuznetsov said. “He can come; we can help him. It’s cool if an athlete wants to try something new.”

Thatall might be possible, but we’re obviously not going to be finding out for sure. Ramsey isn’t cutting down his football commitments anytime soon, and he probably wasn’t even serious while making what might have been a throwaway comment.

Ramsey’s comments are simply one of the most confident, outspoken and competitive human beings on the planet being confident, outspoken and competitive.

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