Fair enough. I misread your piece then and incorrectly assumed that you were not there. Sorry.
3/23/2013 – Michigan 6, Miami 2 – 18-18-3, reach CCHA final
3/24/2013 – Michigan 1, Notre Dame 3 – 18-19-3, season over, tourney streak over
In the end they were nowhere near good enough.
If you've followed Michigan hockey for a long period of time, you can point to a tourney game here or there Sunday's CCHA final against the Irish reminded you of. Smash together:
- that Maine game where a moment of brilliance from Mike Comrie couldn't cover up his short-handed defense's failing legs with…
- that Boston College game Michigan inexplicably led for most of that was over the moment the Eagles tied it after a nine-minute stretch without stoppages and…
- that North Dakota game when Michigan couldn't get out of its own zone but scratched out a shorthanded goal and made it stand up and…
…you get that Notre Dame game.
You know the general outline even if you have no idea what I'm talking about above. If it was soccer the announcers would instantly announce your goal as "against the run of play." Overwhelmed in the corners, fortunate to be in the game, goalie's arm hanging out over the abyss as he screams "DON'T. LET. GO." Fingers sweating, grip slipping, eyes widening, waiting for the buzzer or death.
I don't know about you but as soon as Notre Dame tied it, I was waiting for the end. Michigan had hardly put together a scoring chance. Notre Dame did them a favor by scoring early in the third and dialing back the throttle. At that point shots were 31-10, scoring chances at least that lopsided. By sitting back Notre Dame allowed Michigan to get a better handle on the game, but with 19:30 left I thought "Michigan will have two chances to tie it" and that was all they got.
Notre Dame ate Michigan's lunch. They took one penalty and gave up no odd-man rushes save the shorthanded goal. They won battles in the corner at a 3 to 1 rate. Michigan couldn't put together a rush for ten-minute blocks of time. Over the previous month they'd put something together and run roughshod over all comers, but finally they met a horse they couldn't catch up to. All that stuff Michigan did over their last ten games Notre Dame had been doing all year.
That's how a 21-year tourney streak ends: with Notre Dame showing men of will what will really is.
In the aftermath the word of the day is "redeem."
By the bitter end, Michigan hockey redeemed itself
NCAA streak ends, but Wolverines made Michigan proud
Michigan put themselves in this position with 2/3rds of a season of miserable, unwatchable hockey, and did not dig themselves out. Without the vagaries of single-game playoff hockey they would not have even come close in the end. They were 0-5 against the Irish this year, bombed in every game. Michigan was about as far away from winning that Notre Dame game as they were from getting an at large bid. They had a chance, and found out that running to catch up with someone who had been trying hard from day one isn't easy.
They got what they deserved. A team with as many NHL draft picks as anyone in the country was reduced to a "Cinderella run" in the CCHA playoffs. Divided, they lost game after game to sheer apathy. It got so bad Red tried the put-in-the-third-string-walk-on trick again. Hunwick's first team responded by flying through the slot to clear pucks like demons. This edition lost 4-0 to Michigan Tech and 5-1 to Bowling Green, the nadir. That listless debacle against Bowling Green is this season. What they did at the end was a preview of next year.
It's great that Andrew Copp emerged to take the team by the scruff of its neck and jam it towards an NCAA bid whether it wanted one or not, great that Steve Racine emerged into a viable starter once his defense ceased selling him out a dozen times a game, great that Guptill went from a wake-up scratch to pounding, skating power forward. The fact that this could happen is a ringing condemnation of the upperclassmen. By midseason the guys flanking Treais on the top line were Copp and Sinelli; by the end of the season Copp, a freshman no one had heard of before the year, was the undisputed leader of the forward corps. Because he tried real hard, full stop. This made him unique.
His leadership and the rest of the locker room pulling together is reason for hope. Lessons have clearly been learned, and if this year doesn't show the players the route to success goes through Jeff Jackson's relentless discipline, I'll be surprised.
But it doesn't redeem a damn thing. The preseason #2 team in the country finished under .500 and missed the tournament for the first time in 22 years. There is only one word for that: failure. The scarlet F is branded in this team. The only way up is to own that. Some of them have time to redeem themselves yet; that process starts now.
Michigan loses Moffie, Treais, Sparks, Rohrkemper, and Lynch the Elder to graduation. The early word on departures from Mike Spath at the Wolverine is as such:
- OUT: Kevin Clare, revealed to be indefinitely suspended as much as he was injured and implicated as a Problem, and—sigh—star-crossed Jon Merrill.
- FENCE: Trouba is declared 60-40 to return—an opinion more or less shared by Dave Starman. At least we will know quickly—he's expected to make a decision in a couple days.
- BACK (EXCEPT ONE OF THESE GUYS WILL NOT BE BACK BECAUSE THIS IS MICHIGAN HOCKEY): The three forwards likely to have NHL options are Guptill, Di Giuseppe, and Nieves. Spath projects all to be back, though Guptill "clashed" with the coaches earlier in the year—he was left at home for one series, IIRC. Mac Bennett is projected to return and wear the C.
Just looking at playing time, a couple other guys may also head for greener pastures. There's Rutledge, of course, who turned in an .856 and watched Racine establish a death grip on the job over the last ten games of the season. If he wants to play, a return to the USHL and transfer to a smaller school is probably the only way. Then there's Mike Chiasson, who was an apparently-healthy scratch for the ten-game run. Mike Szuma played in his stead; against Notre Dame Michigan refused to ice a sixth defenseman entirely. I don't think any of the recruits are threats to not show but never say never, mmm, Connor Carrick?
If Michigan does get Trouba back and somehow evades the inevitable unexpected departure, here's a hypothetical line chart:
- Di Giuseppe-Nieves-DeBlois
(Also: Kile, Sinelli, Cianfrone, Random New Walk-on who might be Max Shuart.)
- Bennett-De Jong
(Also: Szuma and probably Kevin Lohan, possibly Spencer Hyman.)
Michigan can sustain a forward departure without much dropoff. The guys I've projected as scratches are all capable of emerging into quality players. Sinelli gave Michigan good minutes late this year. Kile is a year older than the NTDP guys and has better than PPG with one of the USHL's best teams. While Cianfrone has struggled in the USHL, before that he was a midget minor demon and projected first-round OHL draft pick who still went in the third round despite telling teams he was headed to Michigan. Drawing one of those guys into the lineup will be fine. Only Shuart (who left his USHL club for the NAHL) looks particularly unlikely to be a contributor next year.
On defense, they need Trouba back badly. That third pairing is pretty sketch as it is, featuring one of two guys Michigan simply refused to ice against ND plus Serville, who still gives me hives quite a bit. The top two pairings feature two freshmen. There's not nearly as much confidence that any of the backup plans will come through. Lohan is a 6'5" late bloomer; Hyman is a guy who's piled up a lot of time in junior and seems like a third pairing type. If Trouba's gone Michigan is down to one solid pair and hope.
Copp will get an A, for sure, and then DeBlois seems like the most likely other captain. That lineup has no seniors save projected C Bennett and Luke Moffatt, who has never seemed like captain material. Juniors include Lynch, Hyman, Chiasson, and Serville. I could see Hyman getting a call, but DeBlois was on the top line while he toiled on the fourth.
Ah nevermind X2
Well, they were either heartless, or talentless, or Red did an awful job coaching. Which sacred cow do you want to murder? They were not a good team this year and leadership / off ice issues seemed to play a big role. They showed what they COULD be at the end after resolutely failing to do so earlier in the year. So heartless it is, I guess.
Finding the silver lining is optimism. Ignoring the cloud is delusion.
That the "UNACCEPTABLE" crowd was routinely mocked and villified circa 2008 football as being fair-weather fans and worse, and now it is acceptable to be unacceptable for hockey.
Demanding excellence in the face of difficult circumstances is not the same thing as demanding excellence in the face of significantly easier ones. Comparing the football team in '08 to this years hockey team is gross oversimplification. If, at some point, Hoke takes a top-10 preseason team to a losing record accompanied with some clear in-team problems I would hope Brian would write another version of this post.
I get it, it's just that the situations are pretty different. As I recall, the "untalented" horse was mercilessly beaten during that period among anyone who wasn't joined in screaming UNACCEPTABLE.
In other words, 2008 football was unacceptable but explainable - brand new very different coach with questionable talent. 2012-13 hockey was just awful - legendary coach coming off of very good previous season with a team loaded with draft picks. I dunno man, this hurts.
I don't think either of you are wrong. But this team wasn't a single digit win squad. So it's underachievement in both cases. Maybe the ceiling is different for both, but the floor was too. And anger and disappointment are appropriate. Ending bowl streaks or NCAA streaks sucks. But I also think there's a marked difference in how the situations are being treated. But I don't really care in the case enough to throw down with anyone about it.
You're righter than I gave you credit for, after going back and re-reading the Fort Sumter post. It did seem Brian was taking a different take then with regard to a painfully bad team.
I do have very different feelings for this hockey team than I did for the 2008 football team. Maybe not logical, but true.
That one was a good one. I don't mind anger. I do like consistency. But then we're all human, and I wondered not only how many who have gotten on Brian have trashed the basketball team lately, or any football coach or regime. And lost in this, how many people defending Brian for criticizing the team have gotten on people for saying the basketball team needs to be better at this or that. Human nature.
I think there are differences in the situation. Coaching vs. Players (though I'm thinking Brian would blame the latter for both). How painful not being good vs. not being OK. Nothing is exactly the same.
But while Brian gives this advise: "Go do something else. This makes you mad.... Just get off the goddamn internet." HE can't, because it's kinda his job.
But we could all follow this a little bit more: "They would have sucked it up. So suck it up, you pansies. It hurts. Act like a man about it."
Because while throwing stuff at people is never a good answer, I can't say I haven't been close before...
Edited: for some atrocious spelling. There is an "s" in "basketball" and no "i" in "football." Yikes.
Ridiculous. Absolutely outrageous.
Mr. "I'm done with this team" is commenting like he was with this team the whole season. No.
When the chips are down and things are tough, that's where you find out who the real fans are.
I respect you for starting this site and making it what it is today, but to put this team down after the run they went on? When you said you were "done" with them? You don't get that right.
"You don't get that right"
Freedom of speech much?
There is a large difference between freedom of speech and talking out both sides of your mouth
Enlighten me. I was operating under the understanding freedom of speech means you can say whatever the hell you want to say. Apparently there are rules.
But the right you claim Brian has is a legal one that obviously no one disputes. What is being posited is that he doesn't have a moral right to say it after "giving up/abandoning/turning/whatever" on the team. So different kind of right and taking a legal tact on it isn't really salient.
I was there for every game except the opening playoff series because I had made plans under the assumption Michigan would not finish between 6th and 8th in the league. I just didn't write about it, because what was I going to say?
ALASKA: guh." MICHIGAN STATE: "somehow less good than us!" NOTRE DAME: "Jeff Jackson owns us." STREAK: "This is nice I guess but also sort of infuriating since if they had cared all year they would not be do or die for a bid."
I opted out because the only thing I would have been doing is being mad. I'm getting too old to dwell on that shit.
You don't say anything at all.
I saw you at every game supporting the team like a good fan.
You didn't do anything wrong. I think people are having a tough time getting past the title of the post.
Yes. The real fans support those who are locker room diseases, 'leaders' who really only lead when it comes to their frat and getting laid, and contagious apathetic play until ones back is against the wall. Cheer on.
Go be a fan of another team if you feel that way.
It's fascinating how we often attribute positive character traits to athletes that win and negative ones to those that lose. I wonder why we do that, when there really isn't such a connection?
Owl, I like your posts and you seem like a pretty smart guy (or gal). In my defense, however, I'm not some random poster sitting out in Chicago or wherever -- I'm a student. I'm not naming names or going into further specifics, but I needed to use some vague references to support my disapproval of Wolverine Devotee's unwavering devotion to those who may not have the same devotion to the program.
That's fair, I suppose. I'm also a student, and I live on a street that has a lot of athletes on it. I think I can understand and appreciate your perspective.
Nice. Next time I see you out at the bar, I'll buy you a drink. You won't be difficult to recognize with your avatar and all.
So you can tell him from the other guys in owl costumes.
Care to share some specifics? I thought I was following the team fairly closely and never heard any incidents like the ones you accused them of. Granted I'm not in A2 so I easily could have missed these but your comment is a bit inflamatory.
I don't have any specific examples, but earlier in the year, there was a lot of stuff on Twitter about some of the guys hitting up Ricks/Brown Jug/etc all the time. And then there was that whole thing with Guptill being scratched for a series (NMU or LSSU?).
There were a few rumblings about some stuff going on in practice, some players getting into it with each other and then Guptill was left home during the trip to Big Rapids.
There were also rumors of players not having the top priorities as a Michigan student-athlete well. I will leave it at that. Guptill's healthy scratch lies within this rumor as well.
Whoa whoa whoa. To the best of my knowledge, none of the hockey players are in a fraternity (at least none were when I was in college). And if they were? It's not like you have to be in a frat to get laid, and it's certainly not like every guy in a frat is getting laid (I'm not saying this to bash fraternities as I was in one, but if "being in a frat" got you laid, then I would have, well, gotten laid more probably).
And since when is trying to get laid a bad thing? And as a hockey player, do you really need to try that hard? Don't you just point and shoot? I'm sure no one on the hockey team was choosing between getting laid and being good at hockey.
If so, talk about a tough choice...
I'll use that as my excuse from now on as to why I suck at hockey.
I think that describes every college hockey player I've ever known or heard of at Michigan, on squads that won or lost. I'm not thinking that was the main problem (of which there were many, obviously).
There are two ways to view how this season turned out.
1. These guys finally got it together and didn't show any quit until the bitter end.
2. Last 10 games were nice, but where the fuck was this effort 2 months ago?
Whether you fall into Group 1 or Group 2, you can still consider yourself a fan.
I will spare you the in-depth analysis of the aspects of your character that I find annoying, but rest assured your dime-store psychology analysis of mine is one of them.
If only we had nearly a decade worth of petulant meltdowns from which to draw a hypothesis of your reactions and motivations.
Here is my impression of like I lot of people:
"Brian, you suck. You have character flaws, your writing style is too smart or not smart enough for me and you aren't exactly the same kind of fan as I am so I will callyou names. Don't get me wrong, I'm addicted to the blog you've made so successful and post on it like a mother fucker (in addition to following you on twitter and friending you on facebook), but you can seriously go to hell."
I bet those same people would tell Steve Jobs to suck it via FaceTime.
That's all fine, but I think you missed my point. I'm not saying Steve Jobs was good or bad, I was using him as an example, saying that ripping Brian on his own blog is like ripping Steve Jobs while using an iPhone.
If you ripped Steve Jobs using a non-Apple device, then you would not be part of my analogy.
I was told in a thread a few months ago that I have an iPad because I'm not smart enough to appreciate whatever tablet someone was advocating. Which is probably true, so I guess I like Steve Jobs?
I don't particularily like brian or agree with much of what he says... but I do respect him. And this site is THE source for michigan athletics...
I think many people who I know who read this site feel the same way. And I think that is ok.
manic depressive blogging generates pageviews, yo. and it keeps the comments section entertaining.
When was the last time a hockey post got this response?
He called a spade a spade, and only spent half the article doing so. He spent the other half talking about the positives for next year.
The team with the most talent in the NCAA finished in the 50th percentile in RPI and finished 7th in a weak conference. What is he supposed to say?
Thats the position the team put themselves in, do or die. They didn't "do".
This is just a really bad treatment of the end of this streak. They put a hell of an effort in the last few weeks to give themselves a chance and came 1 game short from doing it. I'd be so much more disappointed if they got swept in the first round after playing so poorly most of the season. Every streak ends sometime and this was about the best way I can think of it to end for Michigan hockey. How can getting that far in the CCHA tournament against that competition redeem nothing?
it doesn't bother you that this end-of-year streak shows what Michigan was capable of if it wasn't phoning it in against the Bowling Greens of the league earlier in the season? The "best way" to end the streak would be, say, to finish 3rd or 4th in a strong CCHA and have that not be enough to qualify for the NCAA. To finish 7th in a weak CCHA, where Notre Dame (and maybe Miami) were the only quality competition, doesn't come close to the "best way."
What would have bothered me more was if the team would have continued to phone it in all season and not showed any signs of growth or effort. They did and had a streak of games at the end to try and make up for that poor regular season performance. I was referring to giving it their all at the end in terms of the best way to end the streak and I don't see how finishing 3 places higher would have been better than what happened.
in my scenario, Michigan wouldn't have been "giving it their all" just "at the end" of the season, but all year long. Which is better? Yes, phoning it in all year long would be worse still, but I think redemption requires something more than merely not quitting.
Redemption implies there is some sort of failure or mistake that is being overcome or atoned for like the lack of effort given during the season. They didn't just not quit, they came within one period of winning the CCHA tournament beating Northern Michigan, Western Michigan and Miami to do so. I'm not saying the season was a success but the way they competed at the end is worthy of something more than scorn.
You're in the "glass if half full" side of the fence, and that's fair, but you have to realize that what is making the glass half full is also the great big indictment against this squad this grates on the "glass is half empty" crowd.
for the first three months of the season. They made a run. They didn't redeem anything, unless putting themselves in a hole is some cosmic slight.
From freshman to sophomore year his numbers were almost the same, but moving him to wing this season took a talented faceoff man out of the circle.