Exit Alex Guptill

Submitted by Brian on March 26th, 2014 at 11:56 AM


Aaand Alex Guptill took about 30 seconds to follow Phil Di Giuseppe out the door:

Guptill was the bar-none most frustrating player I can remember in 15 years of Michigan hockey. Talent coming out his ears that he displayed on nearly every shot; a useless slug without the puck. The former saw him score about a PPG for his career. The latter made Red scratch him on the regular despite the PPG thing. I thought that having Copp as his center would force him into something approximating defensive responsibility. This was not the case.

You can directly trace this season's failure to reach the tournament to Guptill cluelessly poking his stick in the general direction of a Penn State player he had every opportunity to stop from having a breakaway and did not. One Penn State goal later they were back in a game they would later win in OT. That specifically prevented Michigan from reaching the tournament and emblematically represented the lack of give-a-shit that characterized Guptill's career, an attitude that bled over into various other players on the team.

I'll miss that guy's hands. Not so much the rest of his game. Next year will be a fascinating test to see how extreme the anti-leadership emanating from the two departures was.



March 26th, 2014 at 12:23 PM ^

I thought of it. That 3 game stretch was Guptill's whole career summarized.

  • Game 1: Don't give a shit. Fail to even attempt to slow down a PSU player going in on a shorthanded breakaway. PSU scores, we end up losing. The epitome of don't give a shit Guptill.
  • Game 2: Healthy scratch
  • Game 3: Scored both of our goals in an eventual tie/SOL to OSU

He absolutely wasted his last two years here. Maybe leaving Michigan will motivate him to actually try again


March 26th, 2014 at 12:58 PM ^

It seems to me that most Michigan a hockey fans are very, very reluctant to single out individual players for significant criticism. Center Ice, for example, would basically reprint the same tweet after every loss, describing the "same problems they've had all year" while studiously avoiding naming any actual names regarding who was responsible for those issues. I know I hate the idea of railing on guys myself.

I don't think any player has challenged that general preference more than Guptill.

I don't know why it was. Lacking any information on his personal life, I would speculate that he is just a brilliantly talented player who is burned out on the work it takes to play well, and continues because that's all he knows. But I'm just guessing.

I wish him well. I hope he finds a context in which to thrive. But he was a Hobey-level talent with no fire, and his departure is neither a surprise nor a tragedy for the program.

Adam Schnepp

March 26th, 2014 at 2:59 PM ^

I've gone back and forth on calling out individual players all season. There are times where I have, but as a general rule of thumb I try not to. It wasn't easy, especially watching the defensive issues Center Ice was referring to.

Having said that, no one has challenged this rule more than Guptill. I've written and erased more tweets than I can count this season.


March 26th, 2014 at 3:18 PM ^

there was nothing to worry about after the home OT loss to PSU given future games against the likes of OSU and MSU.

I don't like the trends, two annual NHL defections, mix in an annual OHL defection, throw in a couple of underachieving recruits each year, and you have this version of Michigan hockey without a star player (perhaps Compher) and cast to carry the team. 

Not that Michigan needs a high end offensive team to succeed, they probably have not had that since 2009, I'm not buying into the pre-college stats and accolades of new players as guys like Wohlberg, Guptill, PDG, K Lynch, Hyman and Boo did not progress or live up to expectations (so far).   Diminishing returns from the NTDP this decade compared to the 2000's.

It's challenging listening to the radio broadcast as they (Randall/Trainor) cover-up which d-man made the turnover which led to a goal or great scoring chance.  You can be a homer, Call the game, tell it like it is.  These aren't 6 year olds.

On the subject of Guptill.  Yes, most frustrating player on the team cause he had a higher ceiling.   I don't think he was recruited to be a top scorer, but he basically turned out to be one leading the team as a freshman (tie) and a sophomore, while dipping to third (tie) as a Jr.  The PSU breakaway was a horrible effort, yet I don't think he got any credit for his backcheck turnover on Moffatt's gametieing goal vs. Wisconsin.    Don't think DeBlois/Selman/Downing were fileted as much for their matador 4 on 1 effort vs. Josh Pitt of WMU in the OT loss at the GLI.   As you may recall, Pitt was the player who previously tripped over the red line allowing T Lynch to tie the game at 2.

Sounds like there was a lot off the ice too with Guptill and still wasn't learning lessons as a Jr.   Probably needed a change of scenery, but I will miss his goal scoring abilities at Yost for a team next year that will have many unproven/underachieving players around still.   Despite his weaknesses, I appreciate that Guptill was able to generate some points over the past few years on some offensively challenged teams without dangerous centers leading the attack.




March 26th, 2014 at 2:22 PM ^

I'm not a hockey guy, won't pretend to understand it as well as some others, but I find it interesting the general tone towards hockey players seem...harsh compared to other sports. I have a hard time seeing a front page post being as harsh to a football player leaving early, even on a team that underacheived. I'm not saying anyone here is even wrong with what they are saying, just noting it as interesting. 


March 26th, 2014 at 2:29 PM ^

I've never seen any of us be this individually harsh to a player...but no one else has been as frustrating as him. We've had plenty of guys who didn't live up to expectations, weren't cut for top-tier hockey, or didn't give it their all every night....but like the above said, this is just 2-3 years of frustration being released. He was really, really difficult to watch because the single most talented player on the team but probably gave the worst effort of anyone. He easily could've been in the Hobey discussion if he tried

Lou MacAdoo

March 26th, 2014 at 4:22 PM ^

I don't see either of these guys making a difference in the NHL. If guys like Hensick, Palushaj, Porter, and Kolarik can't make a splash in the big leagues then I doubt Di Guiseppe has a chance. We all know Guptill has the skill to play there, but it takes much more than just skill. I mean look at what Glendening has done to earn a spot on the Wings. He doesn't have the offensive skill of these guys, but he always gives maximum effort and he plays with a nasty streak. Patch and Hagelin have the skill and have always played harder that their opponent. I don't understand how Guptil can watch the players before him and not understand that effort is a key ingredient to their success. Maybe he doesn't give a shit and either do I. He'll make good money and probably be a quality player in the AHL.


March 26th, 2014 at 7:24 PM ^

Why on earth did he ever see the ice then? I don't watch the hockey team like you all do, but seems to me it would send a horrible message to the team as a whole to keep playing a guy who obviously and consistently isn't busting his ass.


March 27th, 2014 at 12:49 AM ^

Even when he didn't care at all, he was still good enough to be in those top 4 lines. His shot is so good that just standing in the slot for 60 minutes probably still gets him to 4th or 5th on the team in scoring. Thats what's most frustrating about him. He could've been elite if he tried. Like Kevin Porter/Chad Kolarik elite. But he never cared enough to try. He easily could've been that good.


March 27th, 2014 at 12:27 PM ^

So I normally lurk on these forums but this post inspired me to finally register here and post my thoughts.
I should start by saying that I measure the value of a student athlete not by just their ability on the ice (or whatever sport they're in) but also by the quality of their character. My wife & I like to consider a lot of guys on the hockey team friends, and thus for us gives participating as supporters of the program a much deeper experience. We want to see all student-athletes succeed not just in the hockey program but in life.
I remember watching Alex's development prior to him joining the Michigan Hockey program and was very impressed with his abilities; I still am. I was excited for him to join the team. But that said, and as others here have suggested so well, there is more to the story of Alex Guptill when you begin to look below the surface. 
What I have observed is akin to the opinions of everyone else:  A very talented player that, with sufficient motivation, can do amazing things. The problem is, he doesn't always seem to care. Couple that mentality with a clear gap in maturity on and off the ice and it is a recipe for trouble. 
This lack of maturity is a perpetual occurence game after game. I have seen him taunt opposing players, deliberately cause fights (and take penalties for it), and snap sticks out of sheer petulance more times than I can count. I can also remember seeing him go back to the bench after one shift and lean down and start punching something over and over and over again.  Understand that I realize that team-mates are trained to defend each other and in the cases where the roughing originated from the opponent's side, Alex would rightly be an advocate for his team-mates. It what you would expect. Unfortunately, these situations appeared to be in the minority.  Then of course there was the Ferris State series that he missed last year, other healthy scratches, to say nothing of the legal issues he's had to deal with pertaining to the assault and public urination charges. It makes me wonder how the son of a police officer would believe that behaving in such a manner would be in any way acceptable.
It may seem horrible to suggest, but I see a lot of parallels pertaining to his attitude with that of the Dany Heatley parody account on twitter, @DanyAllstar15.  As BelienBuddy suggested, he is an "individual guy and not a team player ".
Alex certainly knows who my wife & I are, and especially as of late we would get the "death glare" from him as we wait around after the games are over to show our support. Alex is a loose cannon with little self control and it really pains me to say that I'm glad he's gone, but, well, I am glad. I think it's going to be a net positive for the team. His antics on and off the ice (clearly there is more than the general public knows) certainly didn't help with overall team morale and the absence of this will do nothing but benefit the team. Add Clare graduating, who exhibits many of the exact same characteristics of Guptill regarding maturity (albeit without the same ability on the ice), and it makes me very excited to see the team dynamic, chemistry, and performance next year.
While I'm at it, I should probably say how much we will miss watching Luke Moffatt play. A great performer on the ice, and a very well-raised and nice guy to boot. He's going to do very well for himself regardless of the roads life takes him down.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:31 PM ^

also say something for the coaches who keep these players on the team?   Desperate?

The Daily article mentioned two of Guptill's legal issues in his 3 years on campus, apparently there are other bad situations too.

I assume that Guptill, Clare and Merrill were the "bad apples" people spoke about on the 2012-13 team, not sure if there were more or the role the Sr. class of Treais, Lynch and Moffie played in team chemistry.

Merrill, Clare and Jacob Fallon (now at Vermont) allegedly had issues in High School at the USNTDP, and it seems to have continued throughout their college careers as those red flags continued in college.

Tristin Llewellyn booted in 2011 for drinking with Fallon.   Kevin Quick credit card fraud in 2007-08. 

Attitude and effort from players like Wohlberg, Czarnik, PDG.

The coaching staff is finding more character problems and limited potential in their recruits as opposed to talent.

Luke Moffatt on the ice, improved throughout each of his four years.  He was not a great performer with only a career season high of 25 points.