January 17th, 2019 at 11:00 AM ^

So he should have fired the man responsible for making Michigan hockey what it is? None of us would care about hockey if Red weren't there. Ultimately, Red had to make the decision to step down. And the extra year he came back partly by request, Warde was still getting settled in and wisely chose not to launch blindly into a coaching search when he didn't have the data. 

Mel has been doing fine. The team made the Frozen Four last year. They're not scoring enough this year and there are a few too many defensive breakdowns. It's not the end of the world (look at what's happened to BC!) and it can't reasonably be assessed to Warde's performance.

Honker Burger

January 17th, 2019 at 10:49 AM ^

Making the NCAA hockey tournament every single year is incredibly difficult to do. What Red Berenson accomplished during the streak was remarkable, but aided by the fact that fewer players left early in the 90s and 2000s.

Some of the college hockey powerhouses (and years) that have missed the tournament recently: North Dakota (2018), Minnesota (2016, 2018), BU (2013, 2014, on pace to miss this year), BC (2017, 2018, on pace to miss this year), Denver (2012), Wisconsin (haven't made since 2014).

It is far more common for NHL prospects to leave after 1 or 2 seasons now and that makes it very difficult to maintain annual success, especially when many of the smaller schools have players that are starting their eligibility at age 21 (compared to B1G schools which have a higher percentage of 18 and 19 year old freshman). This is partly the reason we have seen many schools recently win their 1st championship (Duluth, Yale, Union, Providence), which overall I think is actually good for college hockey.

The hockey program is in great shape, and still has a chance to make the tournament this season. Expecting 90s era results though is unrealistic in today's environment.


January 17th, 2019 at 11:26 AM ^

Are you serious? The tournament is 16-teams. To expect to make it every year is crazy, especially in year two under a new coach. 

The B1G Ten Hockey conference changed the landscape of College Hockey to where we now play in one of, if not, THE best hockey conference now. Did we expect better this year? Of course. But this team is fairly young, and lost a good chunk of their scoring production to graduation/The NHL last season. Losing Norris is HUGE as well. 


January 17th, 2019 at 11:52 AM ^

In no way is the Big Ten the best hockey conference. The last time a team in the Big Ten won a title was MSU in 2007, back when the conference didn't exist. Right now, the NCHC is clearly the best conference, as they've won the last 3 titles (UND, Denver, Duluth), and currently occupy 3 of the top 4 spots in the Pairwise. Meanwhile, OSU is currently the only team in the Big Ten who is in a solid tournament spot at 5th. Notre Dame and Penn State occupy the 15th and 16th spots, and everyone else is in a jumbled mess between 21st and 29th.


January 17th, 2019 at 1:24 PM ^

I'll agree that single-elimination hockey is very random (and thus a very stupid way to decide a champion), but that's also 11 years of data, so it does account for some of said randomness. If we go just by regular season performance, the Big Ten has had 5 #1 seeds since the conference formed in 2014, two of which occurred in that first year. In that time, the NCHC has had 7 (for other comparisons, Hockey East has had 3, ECAC has had 4, and the WCHA has had 1).

In terms of total tournament berths, Big Ten has had 14 teams make it in (I'm counting the Notre Dame berths while they were a member of Hockey East for the Big Ten, since that's where they currently reside), compared to 20 for the NCHC (and 18 for Hockey East [again, not counting the 3 for Notre Dame prior to them joining the Big Ten], 15 for ECAC, 8 for WCHA, and 5 for Atlantic Hockey).

And conference size isn't a factor here, since the Big Ten has 7 teams versus the 8 in the NCHC. The Big Ten averages 40% (14/35) of their teams in the tournament every year, the NCHC averages 50% (20/40).


January 17th, 2019 at 1:38 PM ^


2018 the Frozen Four was 3/4 B1G Teams. I did say "one of, if not, THE best hockey conference now."

Minnesota/ND/Osu/Wisconsin/Penn State/Michigan are all high-end teams that happen to play each other. If I'm not mistaken, isn't the NCHC top heavy? St. Cloud St., DU, UMD, and Denver? UND is right around where Michigan is (within 10 spots or so) and they're border-line top-20 right now. 

All I'm saying is the B1G Ten Hockey conference changed college hockey when it broke up the CCHA and created the NCHC. Michigan fared far better against all teams not named Miami (NTM) when it came to the CCHA, in terms of playoff/tournament. 


January 17th, 2019 at 4:22 PM ^

Not a fan of B1G Hockey.  College hockey is one of the few sports where the small schools get to compete with the bigger ones.   Those winter CCHA weekends when Lake State or Western would come to town with playoff positions on the line would make for some of the most spirited games you could imagine.  I would rather see us play in interstate rival like Northern, than Penn State.  


January 17th, 2019 at 4:26 PM ^

The hockey team is in good shape moving forward. This is a rebuilding year. 

Really good hockey programs are built a couple of ways:

1. You get four year players that are finishing up their junior careers (nothing like a 21 year old freshman going up against 18 year old counterparts)

2. You get some late round NHL talent and some guys who just miss the cut. These guys typically stick around all four years and their real upside is evident once they reach their junior and senior seasons. (see: Hyman, Copp, Dancs, Hensick) 

3. You get one-and-done types who are high draft picks, come into college and kick ass for a year or two before bolting to the NHL (see: Werenski, Larkin, Hughes, Conner) 

Now your “bluebloods” like Michigan are built by #2 and #3 for the most part. The issue we are seeing with the team right NOW, is the lack of #2. It became increasingly difficult for Berenson to get these types of players to come into the program in his last few seasons with the uncertainty surrounding his retirement.

Right now we’re lacking some of that needed secondary scoring from veterans that hold those second and third line roles. Mel’s guys, who will be filling some of those roles, are in their freshman seasons. It’s pretty unrealistic to expect them to fill those roles at this stage. 

So there’s ultimately a gap in the lineup right now and the team is in a rebuilding stage. This season especially and potentially next season as well, have been looked at as a rebuild. But the future is extremely bright as Mel gets his guys in and they get acclimated.  


Real Tackles Wear 77

January 17th, 2019 at 10:29 AM ^

At some point we're just going to have to bar players from that tournament right? It strikes me as kind of ridiculous that we miss our best players for a stretch of the season, and then stuff like that...


January 17th, 2019 at 10:39 AM ^

That will never happen.  No elite talent would come to Michigan if they were barred from participating in the World Juniors.  Shaky enough to get elite talent to play college hockey.  If they could not participate in this major showcase which can help their draft stock and NHL prospects players would scratch us of their list immediately.  


January 17th, 2019 at 10:41 AM ^

That's a great way to ensure that good young players never come to your school. Then it won't matter if you let them go or not, because nobody good enough is ever on the roster.

World Juniors is a great tournament and a great experience for the players that go. There are occasional hiccups (Mike Cammalleri caught mono at World Juniors in the 01-02 season and missed a key stretch run, but came back for the postseason and helped lead the team to the Frozen Four) but you also see players emerge and hit the stretch run hot, like Zach Werenski in 16. 



January 17th, 2019 at 4:43 PM ^

If by “stretch of the season,” you mean the GLI (and a random outdoor game this year) then yeah. The WJC is intentionally scheduled during winter break when schools are out. 

If Michigan didn’t participate in a holiday tournament and ND didn’t schedule an outdoor game, they would miss zero games and your entire disapproval would go out the window. 

The Maize Halo

January 17th, 2019 at 10:46 AM ^

DId we really lose that much "good hockey" between last year and this year? Last year was supposed to be bad hockey but turned into good hockey. This year was supposed to be good hockey but turned into .500 hockey. Let's do that *better hockey.

Save Us Mel

January 17th, 2019 at 10:59 AM ^

It's a combination of things.  This year's team has an amazing ability to lose or tie close games.  They're in every game, often controlling play, but will miss on a couple good scoring chances or have a breakdown on defense that costs them the game.  Plus, the goalie play took a step back from last year's level.  Lavigne seems to be playing better lately so we'll see what happens down the stretch.  Nobody in the Big Ten is so good that we couldn't beat them and win the B10 tourney to make the big show.


January 17th, 2019 at 11:03 AM ^

Our top scoring line performed better than I think anyone expected they would going into the season, which helped the team's performance a great deal. Those guys are gone, and with Jack Hughes unable to get far enough ahead to enroll this year, Michigan was left with few good front-line options; the best option is the subject of this thread. 

Mel is pursuing a two-pronged recruiting strategy, both going after some top prospects like the Hughes brothers and also securing commitments from guys who will enroll later and hopefully develop into solid college players for longer periods of time. This gives Mel room to go for a couple of reach guys (Cam York, one of our commits, is lighting it up for the NTDP right now) while also having guys he has scouted and recruited ready to join the team when some of those guys go to the OHL or straight to the pros. 


January 17th, 2019 at 11:19 AM ^

I agree with this view. 

Besides missing on Hughes, we also had Bode Wilde decommit to play for Saginaw in the OHL, where he is lighting it up. And didn't we also have a shot at Oliver Wahlstrom? He is not having a good season at BC, so maybe he would not have been a difference maker here. But he could have been. 

Mel is going to be fine. I am going to chalk this year up as a hiccup. And maybe it's not over yet, there is no one in the Big 10 we absolutely can't beat. Go on a little run and win the conference tournament and we will go to the dance again. 


January 17th, 2019 at 11:51 AM ^

We were in on Wahlstrom and it looked good to land him; there were varying reports of why he didn't come (couldn't get admitted was one issue promulgated, but there might be a different reason that was the real one) but we were close.

He may be having a bad season at BC but that's unsurprising given that BC is going through an extreme version of what we went through in Red's last season. Everything is bad there.