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May 4, 2011

Defenseman Brandon Burlon opts to leave U-M

After receiving good news with a number of football commitments in recent weeks, Michigan fans were dealt a blow when Darius Morris announced he would remain in the NBA Draft today. This afternoon, another early departure, this one on the hockey front ...

Defenseman Brandon Burlon, who would have been a senior in 2011-12, has decided to forego his final season of eligibility.

"It's just been something that has been brewing in my head for awhile - it's time for a change," he told TheWolverine.com this afternoon.

"Michigan has given me a great opportunity for three years, academically and athletically, and the best way I can explain it is I just feel I'm ready for a change."

Burlon was not more specific than that, leading one to speculate that perhaps he soured on U-M after he was a healthy scratch for the Frozen Four April 7-9 (as rumors had suggested). The defender had missed two weeks and four games - the CCHA semifinals and consolation contests March 18-19 and the NCAA West Regional March 25-26 - after an allergic reaction to medicine he was taking for strep throat devastated his body.

He lost 17 pounds but with 12 days between the regional and the Frozen Four, he regained nine pounds and felt well enough to play. Head coach Red Berenson opted for rookie defender Kevin Clare, who was a steady player in Burlon's absence, citing both the team's chemistry and Burlon's health.

However, Burlon said Wednesday that any notion he made his decision out of spite is wrong.

"No, not at all," he said. "The team played well without me. I would have loved to have played in the Frozen Four and helped but coach did what he felt was in the best interest of the team and obviously we beat North Dakota and went to the finals and we lost by a goal in overtime. I didn't make my decision because of that."

A 6-0, 188-pound left-handed defender from Nobleton, Ont., Burlon was the classic two-way defenseman, contributing 13 goals and 34 assists with a plus/minus of plus-43 in his 116-game, three-year career. He had his best season as a junior before the injury, producing five goals and 13 assists as he moved into a role as one of Michigan's top-four defensemen.

A New Jersey Devils' second-round draft pick (No. 52 overall) in 2008, Burlon will sign a professional contract soon.

"They've been occupied with the World Championships and some other things so I haven't signed yet but it should happen sooner rather than later," he said.

Michigan had survived last summer without an early departure - for the first time in 10 offseasons - and obviously will not this year. Rumors have circulated that senior forward David Wohlberg and sophomore defenseman Jon Merrill (eligibility is for 2011-12) might also be entertaining ideas of going pro but head coach Red Berenson said Wednesday he expects both to return.


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