Last week we published Will Bitten's Top 25 Under 25 profile, in which he finished 14th among all players under the age of 25. Towards the end of the article, it was suggested the best course of action for the young forward might be a trade to a more stable Junior hockey environment, seeing as the Flint Firebirds have been fraught with controversy in the last year.
This morning, news came out that Bitten had in fact requested a trade, and will refuse to report to Flint's camp, which opens today.
(Translation: Flint Firebirds camp. The Franco-Ontarien and Habs prospect Will Bitten will not report today. He wants a trade.)
In many situations, a young player refusing to report to his Junior team may be seen as an egotistical move, but in Bitten's case it's more than justified.
As the season progressed, Bitten fell into a bad place, as evidenced by what his father stated:
"My son went through a kind of a depression when Nedeljkovic and Wesley were traded," Michael Bitten said. "The stats speak for themselves. I saw on a forum said that William only scored two goals the last 15 games and was minus-19 and that speaks volumes because that’s exactly what happened. It was the turmoil that was really getting to him. It was very, very difficult."
Bitten, who went through hell last year in Flint, would ideally like to continue his post-secondary education in French, which leaves him with a few options, most notably the Ottawa 67's.
Mental health aside, the situation in Flint has left him without much hope in terms of elite development, as stated by his agent:
Agent de Will Bitten: "Il n'a pas goûté aux séries en 2 ans. Flint est encore en reconstruction. Pour son dév, doit jouer ailleurs" #ledroit— jf plante (@jfplante_Droit) August 29, 2016
(Translation: Will Bitten's agent "He has not tasted playoffs in 2 years. Flint is rebuilding. For his development, he must play elsewhere.)
It's worth noting that Bitten's brother will attend the Ottawa 67's camp. The Ottawa native would love to join his brother, and most likely hopes to finally develop in a stable environment.
There's no doubt about it, this is a smart move that should be beneficial for Bitten's development. In the long run, his experience in Flint will build character, seeing as he produced under tough circumstances. But it's clear that it's time to move on, and for the Canadiens, Bitten's family, and everyone else involved, a move away from Flint seems to be the best choice.