"These guys cared. That much is obvious with a quick look at how well they played with 10 games remaining" Something like this has been said a couple times now. I'm not even saying Brian wasn't too harsh, but it's absurd to make the argument that they care based on a last-minute freakout at the end.
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.
Even better, he claims he could clearly tell how much they cared based on the last 10 games, but it's INCONCEIVABLE that anyone could perceive a lack of caring/effort by watching every other game of the season.
Kinda disappointed I missed out on the front end of the debate. I might have some things to say about the actual hockey team later, but this thread appears to be a referendum on Brian's commentary. So, first, a couple of clarifications:
1. Brian never said he would stop being a fan of the team. He said he would stop covering them on the blog, for reasons he has elaborated on. If you follow his twitter feed you will remember that he periodically would comment on a hockey game that he was attending as he continued to show up at games he felt it not worthwhile to write about. (Do you have any idea how hard it is to write about disappointment and heartbreak all the time? I got tired to commenting on the hockey team too; I continued to follow them, but rarely appeared on the USCHO thread I lurk in or mentioned anything here. No criticism for me because I don't labor to produce a top-of-the-line sports blog, though).
2. Brian's basic point in the OP is strongly worded, but all he says is that the season is an unquestionable failure. Perhaps you disagree, but he establishes his criteria and defends his position. What's wrong with that? By the standards of one of the top five programs in the sport (all-time and today) his position is entirely defensible. I do understand that it rankles people that he is being harsh on the reactions of fans and writers looking at the "bright side." I think he stepped over the line there, but it's hardly a mortal sin.
3. Brian and several other people (including @yostbuilt and @michiganhockey) have been faithfully blogging about and writing about the hockey team for years. The three I just mentioned are guys I know from the young days of the USCHO forum, back when it was practically the only place to get real college hockey information. We've all posted there and we are passionate about the team and have lived and died through many triumphs and heartbreaks.
But Brian, Tim, Jason and others deserve a lot of respect and leeway. I enjoy writing, enjoy the hockey team, and enjoy combining the two--but those three (and others who I know less well, like center ice) actually put themselves on the line and devote the energy, time, and risk that is involved in publishing blogs that have, for years, toiled to cover a relatively small corner of the sporting universe that they happen to care about.
There are times that it is easy, and there are times that it is brutally difficult. And they do it anyway. Commenters like me are free to say what we want with little accountability, and to clam up and say nothing for long stretches where we don't feel like it. They don't have that luxury. So, if one of them wants to be a bit harsh on a team that saw a season end far short of expectations, I think they have the right to do so without their fandom being called into question.
It's one thing to disagree. It's quite another to dismiss someone entirely as a source of thought because you disagree about a conclusion about a sport.
Yours was the only comment in this thread worth reading.
For someone who was so quick to completely quit covering the hockey team, I find it rather ironic that Brian labeled the hockey team a "failure," as they kept playing and he stopped writing.
If you can't appreciate what this team did when everyone around them gave up--Brian included--then you don't deserve to be a fan while they're winning. Did Self-Righteous "I'm-Always-Right-Because-I-Founded-MGoBlog" Brian actually think the streak would last forever? If he did, he was lying to himself.
I'll be reading my hockey coverage at The Wolverine from now on. In fact, I don't read MGoBlog for much of anything anymore. The self-professed "king" and founding father of Michigan blogs simply gave up, and is actually quite a terrible human being in person based on how he treated people I know. Don't believe me? Ask around.
He encapsulates all characteristics of the quintessential Michigan fan/Alum: arrogance, knowledge, entitlement, and fearing the worst at all times while never appreciating the good, nor ever thinking "good" is good enough.
Chiles, I like your work and what I've known of you has left me with a good impression, but this comment is out of line and beneath you. You can do better than that. You are certainly entitled to disagree with the way Brian covered the team, and indeed you were able to provide your own coverage. But the fact that he stopped writing about them is not the same as not being a fan (your fandom of any sport is not constricted to when you feel like writing about it, is it?) and to throw out accusations about his personal demeanor cheapens your entire argument by reducing it to a personal attack. "He's really a mean guy" is not a good argument. Neither is suggesting that he has declared himself "king."
I am fortunate that your boss at michiganhockey.net looked past his initial impressions of me and continues to have positive interactions with me. He had far more evidence to form a negative impression of me that you do of Brian, and yet he has been kind and sociable in all of the places we've interacted.
It's ok to disagree, but you are making it personal.
(Go ahead, ask @michiganhockey how he first got to know me in person. It's good for a laugh).
You'll wake the baby!
I, for one, am extremely confused that this bitter infighting and rage in the month of March surrounding a Michigan not making the tournament...
...has nothing to do with basketball.
Michigan still has one of the best hockey programs in the country. Red has been the coach for 28 freakin' years now. Every run comes to an end. Maybe next year will bring better days on the ice. Salute the kids and let's move on.
We're back in the sweet sixteen fergodsakes!
I don't have any answers. My luck has been very low lately and I can't fix a hockey team. I am entertained by the tenor of PAIN.
This is why we keep hockey where it belongs at Indiana. At the club level. lol
This reminds me of the 1997 basketball team. They tanked all winter long, making it impossible to make the tournament, but then had a very spirited comeback win over OSU in the finale. Great heart in the moment, but not enough to overcome a season mostly lacking in it.
I kinda thought the back patting on Sunday was a little too much fan boyz for my tastes. But at the same time for the folks behind COY, hockey is their #1 sport, so whats the harm in letting them obit the season with some dignity
Otherwise, this is a pretty legit post for Brian