|Cody Goloubef played hockey at the University of Wisconsin after two seasons of Junior A.
Messier wanted to continue playing with Wayne Gretzky, because playing with "The Great One" was more of a reward than any monetary gain.
"They were very good coattails, yes they were," Messier joked.
Defenseman Cody Goloubef had the chance to jump on some coattails of his own. Instead, he chose his own course, and doesn't think he missed anything in the transition.
Goloubef was a fifth-round selection of the Sarnia Sting in the 2005 OHL Priority Draft and, the following year, the Sting used the first overall selection to take consensus No. 1 overall pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft Steven Stamkos.
But rather than play with Stamkos, Goloubef chose to play two seasons of Junior A with the Milton Icehawks and Oakville Blades before embarking on a college career at the University of Wisconsin this season.
"I knew what I wanted," the Mississauga, Ontario, native told NHL.com. "I knew what I needed to do in order to succeed to get to the next level. If it was going to the States, then that's what I had to do, and that's what I did."
The move worked out in Goloubef's favor and he was the youngest player in the highly competitive Western Collegiate Hockey Association this season -- the second youngest in NCAA hockey -- and had two goals and eight points in 36 games.
While those numbers might not seem impressive, Goloubef is an offensive defenseman who played in a tight defensive system that limited his offensive opportunities while he prioritized his defensive play.
He learned enough to earn NHL Central Scouting's No. 34 ranking among North American skaters.
"When I first saw Cody, I really liked his game," Central Scouting's Jack Barzee said. "He is compact and he's strong with a wide stance. He's a good, powerful skater. He thinks the game well, has a really good shot and makes that first pass consistently. He is a solid two-way player that is going to play on your power play. He played for a defensive-style team at Wisconsin. His conservative play meant that I don't think a lot of scouts have seen the offensive side of him enough, but he's a potential top-four defenseman in the National Hockey League, maybe top three. He's playing against guys who are at least three years older than him. If he was playing in the USHL, he might have the puck all the time and be dominating, but he handled it well. He's a solid kid."
Goloubef could have been just as dominant by following the traditional course for Canadian-born youths and piled up the points feeding Stamkos with the Sting.
But Goloubef knows there's more to the game than offense.
"I'm a smooth-skating guy," he said. "I can move the puck, I can play on both ends of the ice. I need to improve on taking away time and space in the defensive zone and tighten up my defensive-zone coverage."
That's why he went to Wisconsin, where he could learn from former NHL players Mike Eaves and Mark Osiecki.
"I needed to work on my defensive game a lot," Goloubef told NHL.com. "Playing for coach Eaves and (assistant) coach Osiecki, it was a pretty unbeatable combination. They're both pretty defensive-minded people and we start with defense first. Coach O has an awesome record of guys who made it to the NHL and stayed in the NHL. I put all my faith in him to get me to the NHL and keep me in the NHL. It's the little things he teaches us. We do the fundamentals every day."
For more instruction, he follows Tomas Kaberle, the Toronto Maple Leafs All-Star defenseman.
"He's really smooth, real good with the puck, sneaks through everybody and finds a way to get open, he's real productive in the offensive zone," Goloubef said. "I try to come as close as I can to him. He's such an awesome player. It's going to take a lot to get here. I keep working every day so I can get there with him."
He's also working toward a degree, which is equally as important as his hockey success to his parents.
"Education was a big deal growing up," Goloubef said. "They (his parents) are going to support me no matter what (but) I think they like the fact that I'm getting started on my degree."
Goloubef has taken a firm stance with his priorities, but mom and dad might question them. When asked whether it was more important to get his degree or …
"Play in the NHL," Goloubef said. "You never get a second stab at the NHL. I can finish my degree when I'm 45 years old."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.