Lloyd Carr Coaches Michigan Hockey

Submitted by Blazefire on April 8th, 2011 at 12:19 PM

“Okay, boys. We have a one score lead. I want you to run up the middle three times and punt. We’ll play solid prevent, and then we’ll do it again, and again.”

As fans, we remember this as the most irritating trait of Coach Carr. His endless focus on reducing variance and stalling his way to wins was infuriating. We recall the many games against Tressel and our bowl opponents that this strategy cost us. We remember punting from the 40 on 3rd and 2. We remember that fourth quarter field goal when M was up only 3 that we just knew would come back to bite us.

What we forget is that in the years Lloyd had a satisfactory defense, it worked. It worked to the tune of an 88% winning percentage. It worked to the tune of 5 Big Ten titles and a National Championship. And it didn’t work because Lloyd was lucky. It worked because he knew exactly what he was doing. I mean, seriously, I assume that nobody who knows anything about college football would ever question whether Lloyd Carr had a plan. At times, certain coaches seem to be winging it, throwing things out there just to try to find a magic formula. Not Lloyd Carr. Even during losses, he was always in control.

Last night, the ghost of his coaching career possessed Red Berensen. Shawn Hunwick stopped 40 shots, and Michigan spent the final two periods of the game playing prevent. Defensemen flew all over the ice, clogging lanes and disrupting flow. When Michigan did obtain the puck, we made three rushes up the middle and punted, clearing the puck from about center ice and setting up the defense again and again.

“Make that lead hold up, boys! Drive them crazy!”

Just like a Lloyd coached game, UND had chances, and plenty of them. But what they got very little of was the break away, one on that makes goalies around the world wet themselves. Most of their good chances erupted from a pile of bodies, more of which were Maize and Blue than Green and White.  But it was always in a pile of chaos that’s hard to take advantage of.

“We’re gonna out-execute them. No mistakes. Do it right every time.”

As fans, like so many Lloyd coached games we watched, a lead felt an awful lot like a deficit until a kid named Scooter buried an empty netter with 35 second to play. We spent most of the night screaming at the TV, “Cmon! Get it going on O! Get some shots! Generate some pressure!”

Red knew though, as Lloyd did, better than us. UND was, and is, an offensive juggernaut that will make you pay for your mistakes. But discipline, quality play and the refusal to make any of those mistakes will drive your opponent crazy. They continue to push, waiting for that moment when you dedicate four to their end and they can put out a two on one break. Don’t give it to them.

Does it always work? No. Can you do it with just anybody? No. You need a star, too;  someone to make a play when variance does overwhelm discipline. It’s important to recognize those stars. They’re the guys that make Lloyd and Red’s brilliance work. Lloyd had Charles Woodson. Red has Shawn Hunwick.

But that’s all part of the plan. Play clean. Play smart. Execute. Get your stars in position to pick up the slack and win the big ones. Stymie everyone. Be solid. Be stoic. Be brave. Be Michigan, and you will be a champion.

We Salute You, Coach.



April 9th, 2011 at 12:07 PM ^

Hockey is also a much, much more high variance sport than basketball or football. Weird things in the tournament happen, and can happen in increments of :30 or one goal, and change the outcome of the rest of the game more so than in either other major sport.

Berenson is top five active winning percentage in his sport. To make a useless analogy to football and basketball, that's sandwiched between Bob Stoops and Chip Kelly in active BCS conference coaches, depending on whether you use Meyer as active (he was when the list I'm going off of was made). In basketball, it puts him with Gary Williams of Maryland, and ahead of Roy Williams at UNC.

Berenson might have struggled at points in big games, but I highly doubt people would be in the streets over his resume. It takes an early-2000's type performance from Paterno to get that bad with a coach who's as successful as he or Red is.


April 9th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

Is as much an overstatement as it would have been for Lloyd. In both cases, there would be an overly loud, cranky minority who want to run anyone who doesn't win the title every year out of town. Just like there was with Lloyd. And as I made clear, it would be just as dumb as that was.
<br>I'm not sure what you're getting at with active winning percentages. Depending on who had retired, or gotten on a hot streak, or had a down season, Lloyd was anywhere from Top 5-8 in active win percentage. So that compares very much to Red...and as this thread shows, there's still a lot of dissatisfaction.
<br>Sure, hockey is a game of bounces. But it also gives you second chances. You just have to be hot for 4 games, not a season (2 less chances for that variance than in basketball). This Michigan team would never be picked to win a title, but they've got a shot they never would in football. Bad days may happen more in hockey, but the rare one time in football eliminates you from title contention most times.
<br>But the point is that they were both great coaches. And comparing them isn't that far off, but for the underlying Lloyd dissatisfaction, and the cult of hockey.


April 9th, 2011 at 1:47 PM ^

My point is that I don't think Red has "underachieved" given his sport. You might have been using this to defend Carr (which I agree, I think the original comment on this chain wasn't fair to Carr), but I don't think you can call someone in the top five underachieving, especially based on the tournament, which is single elimination in a very random game. 

This second comment you made makes me think that your opinion is much more in line with mine than your first one did, where I thought you were taking Red down a notch to defend Lloyd.


April 9th, 2011 at 4:44 PM ^

And in the grand scheme, I would even rate his accomplishments above Lloyd (for sure if they win tonight). I was just pointing out that those who say they are nothing alike miss the similarities of really dominant years followed by really good years, but not consistency to those same heights. I think their success is fairly close, and certainly both have achieved enough to name their own exit. Because much like football, after Red leaves, there's no guarantees we keep rolling.

There's just a contingent that seems to think we choked away every lesser team we ever played against, and comparing the hockey team can't happen because it always plays up to it's ability. Which isn't true, because many a heavy favorite in M hockey has been bested by a hot goalie or lesser team. Much like we did to ND Thursday; and like we've done against OSU or PSU or Florida in football in the past. It doesn't make Red a bad or failing coach; it makes him a coach in sports involving near teenagers. As I said, shit happens.

I've seen them look forward to more current offense on the bus after the Rose Bowl when Bo was retiring; Mo on a hot seat for 2 4-loss seasons; Fisher (before scandal) ripped as a coach after 3 Title games; Lloyd torn apart on a weekly radio basis, and so on. If anyone cared about hockey, Red would have gone through the "he's lost it" talk at times like anyone else. Because fans are stupid. But because I can ask students on campus last night about Saturday night and they don't even know there's a game, he doesn't have to put up with such nonsense. Hockey is a loyal and knowledgable crowd, but their numbers aren't great, and the bandwagon compared to football or basketball is a lot less.


April 10th, 2011 at 11:10 AM ^

We just lost to a less talented team after completely getting outplayed, looking sluggish, and taking dumb penalties. And yet there's not a single word out there criticizing Red for "not having his team ready". If it had been Lloyd, or Rich for that matter, they would have been roasted for 48 hours minimum (and Beilein will deal with it too if he gets a team that has more talent than the other guy...heck, got it midseason this year, and after OSU last year). And actually, how it's gone down NOW is how it should go. Red didn't get dumb from Thursday to Saturday. Sports aren't all chartable. Stuff happens. But between the lack of overall interest, and (related) greater knowledge of hockey fans, the coach gets a free pass others don't. The refs, on the other hand....


April 10th, 2011 at 11:37 AM ^

The refs didn't lose the game. M lost the game, plain and simple; that wasn't Miami last year.

I don't blame Red for last night. Every dumb penalty contributed to the loss. I saw one good penalty (the holding call when M-D got around our last defenseman) and the rest of the time they were more interested in taking penalties than scoring.

The reason I say I don't blame Red is that, by virtue of simply having a brain, he had to tell the team about 29834 times not to take those penalties, and they did. I'm not sure what he's supposed to do about that mid-game. You're right that LC would have had it handed to him after last night, from knowledgable hardcore fans, but it's much easier in football to see the coaches bad decisions than it is in hockey.


April 10th, 2011 at 12:04 PM ^

I'm just saying that there's still a lot of bitching about THEM, at least, from the fans (if not the coach). And just to make clear (though I'm pretty sure you understand...but for anyone else)...Red should NOT be blamed for last night. I'm just saying that continuing to take dumb penalties after being told not too almost 30000 times (I liked your number), and Rich, Lloyd or anyone else would have been killed. And you're right, it is a bit of a different game, not only in perception of how the coaches make bad decisions, but in the flow of a game there's a lot less coaching decisions made than say in a football game (or even a college basketball game). It's more getting them ready during the week (or in this case, 48 hours) where the real coaching comes in. That's why pre-ND was such a masterful job.


April 9th, 2011 at 1:52 PM ^

The measure of a great coach, in large part, is whether a program is significantly better than it was when he started.  Bo did that.  Red certainly did it.  Lloyd did not.  The Michigan football program at the end of Lloyd's tenure was not better than it was when the job fell in his lap.


April 9th, 2011 at 2:34 PM ^

Are you kidding me? Lloyd brought the only thing left to build on Bo and Mo. Don't penalize him because he was five years removed from following the best M coach in the modern era. Red built his own program, Carr didn't have to and that's absolutely not his fault.

You're talking about a guy who personally has more Big Ten championships than some schools do.


April 9th, 2011 at 4:57 PM ^

What's your point? Red has won 11 and 9, over 26 years. So 20, in twice the time, 10, divided by the ability to win two a year, so...5 every 13 years...hmmm...sound familiar...  If you want to throw in Bowl games wins as post season wins....

Math, numbers, picks, details...not your strength, huh?

And let's be honest...it's been awhile since there's been more than one, or maybe 2 in a good year, really decent competition. There's a reason all that hype went to the other conferences in the Tournament. The League's been so down it's being abandoned for the Big Ten.


April 12th, 2011 at 12:04 AM ^

Growing up Lloyd was the only coach I've ever know. After he was poetically carried off the field in Orlando, the RichRod era had begun. Sure, Lloyd was frustrating and made some questionable decisions, but he understood tradition and what it meant to be a wolverine. He is a true Michigan Man who brought us a national championship. I will always love Coach Carr. Long live Lloyd.