by: , REDDIN

Still embroiled in a bureaucratic mess, Colin Reddin wants to play for the Portland Winter Hawks.

The 17-year-old Reddin recently came to the Western Hockey League club after departing the USA Hockey National Development Team Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. But he sat out Monday's game, waiting for clearance to play for the Hawks.

Reddin signed with Portland after being picked in the third round of the 2005 bantam draft. He drew comparisons to former Hawk great Todd Robinson, but then he joined the USA Hockey program, casting doubt on whether he would play here.

He participated on the under-17 team last season and played in 26 games this season at U-18 before leaving early.

'I went to the national program, obviously, to get the USA logo on my chest, more of a development thing,' says Reddin, who is from Corona Del Mar, Calif. 'I knew I'd come back to the Western Hockey League and to Portland. I'm definitely in the right spot now.

'I wasn't out of the picture at all. College was also an option, but (signing) with the WHL closed that route.'

The Winter Hawks have missed out recruiting some top bantam players lately, but they finally got one in the 5-10, 180-pound Reddin, whom coach Rich Kromm expects to make an impact.

'Very good skill, really good hands,' Kromm says. 'It's really difficult to see what his hockey sense and vision are (without being in a game), but I hear they're very good.'

He'll play center or wing, Kromm says.

'Hopefully I can help get the guys going,' Reddin says. 'I'm going to do what I can for them, but I won't speak too soon (about expectations). I definitely feel I can help the team and get some points under my belt.'

Reddin had two goals and seven assists in 26 games with the USA Hockey U-18 team, which plays games in the North American Hockey League and against European teams. He was the only player on the squad signed to play in the WHL, or any major junior league, and not bound for college. He says the coaches didn't hold that against him, but 'it's still there, in everyone's mind. … Sometimes the ice time wasn't there. It wasn't the right environment for me.'

The Winter Hawks and Hockey Canada have been wrestling with USA Hockey to release Reddin from his obligations early to join the WHL team. It's why his debut was delayed.

'USA Hockey wasn't wanting to let go, and Hockey Canada wanted to put their foot down,' he says. 'Nothing I could do except sit around and wait.'

He wants to play for USA Hockey in the world juniors and Olympics someday, but Reddin says, 'Now, it's about making it to the next level, hopefully the NHL.' He's eligible for the NHL draft this summer.

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