A few comments this hockey season from the regular posters have asked about or lamented the fact that our present hockey team is sagging back to the 'Pre-Red' days of despair. Having been a small part of that era I thought maybe some of you might be interested in some of the background of those times and teams. Remember I am doing this one from memory of 35-37 years ago (yes, I am very old), and candidly I hope that some of the guys on those teams might be lurkers and/or bloggers here and would be kind enough to supplement or correct what I'm posting. Think of this as the JV version of what one of my favorite posters, RYG, does on a regular basis.
Leading up to my freshman year the team had been coached by Dan Farrell for a number of years, with all but one of those years being a winning record. He was a very good recruiter and my freshman year I think our team had more talent (myself excluded) that would end up playing pro hockey than any college hockey team I'd ever heard of. That said, Farrell resigned before the 1980 season, and it wasn't until decades later that I found out he apparently went back to Houghton to be an engineer. Wilf Martin became head coach. I think he was a Michigan alum that had played minor league pro. He was a nice guy but was in a bit over his head and, to quote Teddy Spears one of the guys on the team who ended up being captain, it was quickly found out that 'He couldn't handle the pressure'. Enter John Giordano, the erstwhile assistant thrust into the lead role.
Giordano fancied himself as the next Herb Brooks, the tough guy coach of the incredible 1980 Miracle on Ice U.S. Olympic team. You may remember that Brooks' players hated him at the beginning, but by the end of their time with him would've walked through fire for him. Indeed, that team of Brooks' is part of the greatest sporting achievement and event I've ever witnessed. Anyway, the problem with Giordano was that he didn't have anywhere near the gravitas (I am trying to be very diplomatic here) required to pull that off. The net result was that the players did not respect Giordano, they didn't like him, he was not a good recruiter, and though he was okay with the X's and Os of hockey, he was losing altitude in the win/loss column.
The shame of it is that Giordano inherited some pretty serious talent on that roster. Guys that had at least a cup of coffee in the pros, with some doing much better, would include Dave Richter, aka, "Magic", who was a 6' 4 or 5", 235 lb defenseman before those things existed in hockey. Magic was smart and tough and in a pair of skates looked to be about 8' tall. Other guys who made some pro rosters, some minor league pros, include Steve Richmond, aka 'Chi', Dennis May, aka 'Los', Teddy Spears, aka 'Spearsy', Brad Tippet, aka 'Tipper', and goaltender Paul Fricker, aka, 'Spaceman'.
By the '83-84 season Giordano had lost the team, so to speak. The guys all signed a letter addressed to AD Don Canham asking in effect that the school get rid of Giordano and that is in fact what happened.
Red has had a great run but as many have mentioned it looks like that run should come to an end. I hope he leaves gracefully and it would be very cool if the team sparked these last weeks of the season to achieve to the level of it's recruited talent.
Anyway, I hope the Michigan hockey fans amongst the mgoblog glitterati will enjoy this post. Have a great weekend regardless.