When was the last time a hockey post got this response?
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.
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.
Did you miss the memo? We're not here to talk about hockey! We're here to yell at each other and take sides! WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON!?
The thing is that Hyman is very good at being a center but also one of the only forwards willing to go into the corners, I think they were forced into playing him on the wing for that reason.
I think he's a dynamic player and the only thing be really lacks is offensive touch. He's going to be a valuable 4 year player.
If the streak had to be ended (and it was inevitable), I'd rather see it go the way it did, fighting up to the CCHA championship game instead of being dead in the water in January and mailing it in with a sub 15-win season, pedestrian first round CCHA exit.
The team does have to own up to ending the streak but they at least deserve SOME credit for pushing themselves back into position and being 20 minutes away from extending it.
I feel precisely the opposite. A first round exit would have me thinking, gawd that team was irredeemably awful let's learn from it and move on. Instead we learned that there really was a decent team in there, if only they'd brought it out a little sooner.
Turning it on at the end is better than not turning it on at all, but it also confirms that there was something to be turned on in the first place. Which is the infuriating thing.
I've got the same mixed feelings. I'm proud, and happy they almost pulled it off, but at the same time, what the hell was going on earlier in the year? This wasn't Racine just becoming the next Terry Sawchuk, the whole team played like a great team. And watching them blow out Northern, and blow out Miami, and go on that 8-1-1 run (or whatever it was) just makes the whole season have a bitter taste to it
At least Andrew Copp, possibly the least heralded of anyone on the team coming in, decided to be awesome
but honestly, the fact that they ended up in the final pisses me off even more given that the rest of the season was a damned train wreck and tire fire all balled up into one. This streak didn't HAVE to end this season. Watching them play this year was infuriating because you saw the potential there, but it didn't seem like anyone in that locker room wearing a jersey gave a shit enough about one another to fulfill it.
I'm turning this car around and driving back home and you won't get any supper.
• Is there any lingering effect from the departure of Mel Pearson?
• Is the talent level the same as it's been for the last ~15-20 years?
• Do other programs routinely lose their most talented kids after two years or less?
1. Probably, hard to lose a longtime assistant without suffering some sort of ill effect.
2. Probably not, but I think it's still close enough to expect this season to not have been the disaster it was.
3. I have no idea, but I have to imagine it's the same at other top programs, you have an equiavalent league in Major Juniors that some NHL teams push kids towards and there's always the ability to leave early for NHL draft picks.
All in all it's a challenging environment to win in and Red has done a hell of a job through the years. I think this year just happened to be the confluence of a bunch of negative factors: Continued poaching of high ranked goalie prospects by the OHL, a senior class that never had to assert itself due to the presence of Hagelin, Caporusso, Hunwick, etc. through most of their careers, and some just plain recruiting misses that turned into attitude problems(Clare and the other three rumored bad attitudes according to The Wolverine.com).
I think a new streak starts up next year and hopefully this team learned something from what just happened, but I think Brian has a good point, in light of what they were able to put together at the end of the year, it's hard to look at the whole year as anything but a disappointment.
- Maybe? The team hasn't imroved or slipped in any specific areas since he left, the issues that led to the do-or-die run in 2010 still exist and Pearson was on the bench for that season.
- College hockey has changed so Michigan won't ever have a superteam like they did from 96-98 again, there is much more parity. Relative to the rest of the NCAA Michigan is in the top 5 almost every year. They also have the best recruiting advantage in the country, with the USNDT 3 minutes away and they are the closest power conference school to Toronto. Think Texas or Ohio State's natural recruiting advantages in football.
- Its not uncommon for top players to leave early in hockey. Trouba leaving wouldn't be a sign of any negativity in the program. He should leave, actually, he's too good to be playing college hockey next year would impede his development. He's a man amongst boys out there.
I have to respectfully disagree with the notion that Michigan has the greatest recruiting advantage in hockey in this nation. No state has a better recruiting base than Minnesota. They might not year after year get better recruiting classes than Michigan, nor vice versa, but those two squads probably have the best recruiting bases from which to pick their classes.
The State of Michigan has the 2nd most hockey talent, to Minnesota.
Michigan has this, the USNDP, and Southern Ontario. Minnesota only has their state in their backyard.
Not entirely correct. Minnesota also has the east side of North Dakota, and western and central Wisconsin, and Manitoba right above it. Don't forget that perhaps the most impactful Gopher hockey family of the past decade (Phil and Amanda Kessel - Amanda just finished an undefeated, untied regular season for the Lady Gophers and won a second straight national title) came from Madison, Wisconsin.
But we are quibbling about mostly nothing. The fact is Minnesota and Michigan hockey players stock the shelves of many Division 1 hockey programs, and they are probably the two most fertile (LOL) states for hockey in this country. We are truly lucky to be able to watch such a great sport.
• Is there any lingering effect from the departure of Mel Pearson?
Perhaps, but it's too hard to quantify. I can't say there are any recruits we missed b/c of it, and how can we attribute to the on ice performance? the lack of PP? the Defensive lapses by the forwards? the lack of leadership?
• Is the talent level the same as it's been for the last ~15-20 years?
In total numbers, yes... we have as many NHL picks as anyone in the nation. But we don't have the top end playmakers at forward. Basically, it's Trouba and Merrill and lots of long shots to get a cup of coffee in teh league, IME
• Do other programs routinely lose their most talented kids after two years or less?
I don't have numbers, but sure, Minn, NoDak, BC, have all see early departures... not sure how it affects them on a yearly basis.
Unless I'm missing something their Twitter account is operated by undergrads.
the complaints on this post drive me crazy when the argument devolves to "you can't complain because you left". Supporting a team can sometimes include admitting that they suck and it isn't any fun to watch them. People get all worked up over who is on or off some mythical bandwagon, and then dismiss those they perceive to not be on their side. The hockey team was playing pretty poorly this season, and making the tourney because they made a short run wouldn't have changed that. Brian (and others) are entitled to their opinion that following this team is annoying and they don't want to write about them anymore, just like others are allowed to keep up their posts. But people here love to measure their d*cks by how "true" a fan he or she is, provided that measurement is based solely on a subjective scale.
Brian didn't miss a home game. There's a difference between refusing to cover a team because their play is so bad you can't say something nice and not supporting them.
I think his actual point at the time was why waste time covering a hockey team that clearly doesn't care it's grossly underachieving when we can spend our time covering a basketball team that is meeting all our expectations. Personally, I don't have a big problem with that.
Besides, Brian didn't stop watching, he stopped writing about. It's not like he stopped going to games but kept griping about how much things sucked.
Fantastic Planet is one of my favorite albums.
Based on these comments, some people are going to need the pharmacy keys from the 'Nurse Who Loved Me' to calm down.
FWIW, one of my favorite albums of all time as well. Terrible name for a band though. But that's another thread, another blog.
This team clearly had chemistry issues at the start of the season, but put it all together towards the end and really gave it their all down their stretch. The look on some of those players'' faces after the game Sunday was heartbreaking. To call the team a failure is a crime. I hope you never coach a youth sports team ever. What a joke of a statement. Embarassing.
*Did not read the article, the post title was enough for me. This is why I stick with the board and rarely touch the front page. Trash like this.
when fake and lazy outrage is so much easier.
So you didn't read the article, but you can say without any reservation that Brian shouldn't coach a youth sports team?
I've given writers here a hard time about some of the stuff they write, but saying you avoid the front page of website because it has trash on it makes absolutely no sense. The MGoBoard as it stands today is awful by comparison to 95% of the front page material ever posted, and it is a mere shadow of the ocean of analysis and conversation that it used to be. I guess if you are here for cat memes, Kate Upton gifs, and running jokes then it is the place for you. Of course, you should realize it wouldn't exist if not for the content on the main page.
Using this solitary post of yours as evidence, I would hope you never teach children anything. Your startling lack of common sense would make you a danger to their future decision-making abilities.
The word failure is enough. This team is not a failure, nor is the season. The season may not be up to Michigan hockey standards, but 8-1-1 in the last 10 games, a streak that most teams would die for. Ran into a hotter/better team, and the season came to a crashing halt.
Sadly for you, I do teach, and I would at no point call any one of them failures. I'm glad Brian can sit behind a keyboard and blog about how the team is a failure.
I come here solely for the news as it is by far the fastest Michigan sporting news aggregate.
The term failute isn't enough. Michigan Hockey has certain expectations, whether they are fair or not. This team did not live up to those expectations, on multiple fronts. That constitutes a failure by the team and staff.
If you are a teacher, than I'm assuming you must be the luckiest teacher of all time if you have never put an "F" on a report card. Either that, or you are a horrible teacher who doesn't realize that kids need to learn what failure is so they know how to avoid it in the future. As teachers it is often our job to teach them that lesson, as their parents are either too scared to do it, or don't think their children are capable of handling failure.
Ask the team if they feel like successes right now. "Failure" is a statement of fact, in this case.
This season was a tale of two failures - first, the miserable regular season, and second, the inspiring but ultimately failed playoff run. I think exploring the meaning of those two different failures is interesting.
Guess what - the Pistons had a nice little run this season where they went 7-3 with wins over Miami, Atlanta, and Milwaukee. They are also 24-47. You can have some positive signs in doses while the whole still is unimpressive.
The team was #2 coming into the season; they finished below .500 and didn't make the tournament. While Brian is not calling any of the players "failures" as human beings or really even as players, the team (as an amalgamted collection of said players) is a failure as measured by expectations and past performance.
People fail at things; I fail all the time at being a better employee, a better athlete, and better husband/father/person. They are discrete moments in my life when i don't live up to expectations. I'm also successful a bunch of times, and taken in totality that's how everyone's life is. The team played well at the end of the year, but to ignore the rest of the season is the most myopic, sports radio way of following a team. Yes, UM went 8-1-1 to end the year; had they been able to play as well all year, they would have been in the tourney. But they didn't. And because of that, a season that started with promise is a failure.
Do you grade your students papers without reading them based on the title?
but something can be a failed situation without the people involved being failures as human beings. Obvious example, maybe Edison "failed" to make a lightbulb in his early attempts, but that did not mean he as a person was a failure. I took the headline to mean the season was a failure, which, if we have the standard of making the NCAA tournament, it was.
other obvious example: what Brian was saying in this post
Sadly for you, I do teach, and I would at no point call any one of them failures.
That's cool that you're "Up with people!" and everything, but this is big-time sports, not some general-ed high school class. (Incidentally, lots of students do fail their courses every year, at every level of education.)
This was a preseason top 5 team and it finished with a losing record and didn't make the postseason. The season is a failure. I think every player in the locker room would agree. The players learned a difficult lesson this season. I think they will use it as motivation for next season, but it's unfortunate that it had to come to this.
- an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success
- nonperformance of something due, required, or expected
- a subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency
This years team meets the dictionary definition of the word.
for getting to the CCHA championship game. It's like you, being one of the smartest kids in your class (or in your whole school) just getting D and F and then a D- and a D+ and then another F all year and then right at the end of the semester you're like "Oh crap! I have an F!" so you study really, really hard for the final and you show everyone what you've got. You get a A- on the final (only 2nd to that kid going to ND next year), then take it to your parents and say "Look! Aren't you proud of me? I did awesome!" to which your parents would say "Well son, kind of, but not really. You still got a D+ in the class"
That is this year's Michigan hockey team.
Absolutely spot on analysis. It's hard to celebrate a team with this much talent(and they showed it at the end of the year) turning in a season like this. The end of season run was fun, but doesn't negate how it started nor the choice not to fight for a team-mate that triggered Brian's "break" from covering the team.
Bingo. I teach a section of B level high school physics... I had a girl that annoyed me all semester (when she showed up to class, slept the entire time) only to pull it out with an B+ on the final when she was averaging a high E.
Are you saying that you weighted your grades in such a way as to allow someone to go from failing the class to a B+ based on one test? If so, you seem to have missed the education class where they explain that high stakes testing is a bad thing.
way to misread what I said. I had a student have a 58.0% get a B+ on the final, earn a D- and yet pass the class.
Jesus reading comprehension in this country sucks balls.
You didn't say a single thing about a D-. You said they pulled it out on the final, and the only other grade you gave was the B+. It isn't a failure in reading comprehension when the writer is incapable of presenting a story in such a way that it can be fully understood.
Yeah, you literally said nothing about a D- until right now. You said she "pulled it out" with a B+, leaving one to wonder what "pulling it out" meant on whatever random grading scale you use. Apparently writing comprehension sucks here too. And I'd argue getting a D- isn't "pulling it out", unless you think REALLY sub-par work that passes some arbitrary cut-off is proof of intellectual growth and information retention.
But yeah, keep on looking for a fight. You've done an amazing job so far defending your well-reasoned arguments with facts and cohesive examples.