Aulin gets back into classroom

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

After hitting the big-time Jared Aulin is now ready to hit the books.

Five years after cracking the Los Angeles Kings lineup as a gifted 19-year-old, the Calgary native has returned to his hometown where it will be announced today he'll suit up for the University of Calgary Dinos this year.

While a handful of notable players have made the jump from CIS hockey to the NHL over the years, the 25-year-old Aulin is the first player in more than 20 years to play in the NHL and then play CIS hockey.

"I don't know if anyone has ever done this before but (coach) Scott Atkinson said it's the first time he's ever heard of it," said Aulin, a second-round draft pick following a stellar junior career with the Kamloops Blazers.

"It's nice because I'm playing hockey with a smile on my face again."

Turns out most of the nine players in CIS history to suit up in the NHL and go back to university did so in the 50's, the last two being Eric Calder and current Blazers GM/coach Dean Clark who combined for three NHL games in the '80s.

Tired of the politics, mixed messages and injuries that came with spending the last four years bouncing around the American Hockey League, Aulin had soured on the game to the point he had little interest in ever playing again.

Those feelings were amplified this summer when, while playing in a Calgary non-contact summer league, he was the victim of a vicious stick swinging incident that left him with a concussion and swollen carotid artery.

"I hadn't skated at all since then," said Aulin of an incident still being investigated by police. "I was done with it."

Then came a conversation last month with Dinos winger and former Blazers linemate Ryan Annesley.

"I told him the only way I'd play is if I could come back and reunite with him and go back to school," said Aulin, who had 33 goals and 67 points in 46 games with Annesley riding shotgun in Kamloops.

"He mentioned it to thee coach and he found a loophole. When he let me know, I was more than happy to jump at the chance."

Atkinson explained that every year past age 20 a player plays pro, he gobbles up a year of University eligibility. Because Aulin hit the bigs at age 19, he has one year left to play CIS. That said, he has to wait until Nov. 6 to make his debut.

"The biggest thing is he had to be a unique individual," said Atkinson, who is exploring the possibility that with all the time Aulin missed to injuries he might be CIS eligible for two years.

"To me this is only good in a certain way. If he comes back and destroys the team it's a negative, but he probably works harder than anyone. You don't have to make any abridgements in practice. He's a good example for our guys."

And one whose broad shoulders will have to carry heavy expectations, again.

"We're expecting him to be the top offensive player in the league," said Atkinson bluntly.

"He's a great skater and has the full skill package. I don't want to say anything brash, but we're expecting to move forward with our program and be a top team in the CIS. This is the first time in my six years something fell in our lap that's good."

Who knows where it could lead for Aulin or the Dinos.

"Right now my goal is to have fun and treat it like a business at this level," said Aulin, serious about chasing a business degree. Nothing is set in stone."

Aulin knows that better than most.


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