So where does Hockey go from here?

Submitted by gwkrlghl on February 21st, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Well then.

I think tonight is the resounding confirmation of what we have all feared for the last few years. With a loss to Penn State at home and our 2nd loss to them this year, it's apparent that this program is stagnating. WIth the exception of the coming of Tiny Jesus, we've been gradually floundering more and more each year since the awesome Porter-Kolarik-Patch season. Waves of NHL draft picks fail to develop here in such high quantites that you can't just point to 'busts' anymore.

So here we are, very similar to where the football program found itself in 2007: A storied coach at one of the nation's most decorated programs has finally gotten to the point where everythings going downhill. So do you gut everything and go Richrod and hope it goes better? Keep yelling MICHIGAN MAN and just hire back Mel and hope he's magically better than the guy who tutored him for 20 years? Do the new thing and throw a lot of zeros at a big name coach? (Note: I am still very much assuming Red will never be fired. He will retire or 'retire')



February 21st, 2014 at 9:30 PM ^

I don't think Red during the 20 years he was tutoring Mel was the issue.  And you'll note the utter cratering corresponded with Mel's departure.  That said, while Tech is a little better than they used to be, it doesn't seem like he's setting the world on fire there.

I do think it's apparent that it's about time for Red to retire.  He can't get these kids to actually give a shit about Michigan (except Compher so far) anymore and they've been an utterly stupid hockey team for a couple years now.

Wolverine Devotee

February 21st, 2014 at 9:31 PM ^

I immediately thought this after the game.

Red said it himself.

He will step aside when it becomes apparent to him that he's getting in the way (paraphrasing).

Which seems to be now. But you can't ever be sure. I don't know what the deal is. I don't what the problem is. I don't where we will go from here.

Let me say this: I am in no way, shape or form saying Red should be fired or forced out. The guy is a legend and deserves his name on the next hockey building when it comes in about 20/25 years.

And honestly, I don't which hurts me more. Football being in this "Building It Up To Burn It Back Down" cycle or hockey having the troubles they are having.

Michigan Hockey means so much to me and it was always there for me to make me positive and happy and cheerful when football and basketball did not in the past.

Honestly, I would take the 2011 NCAA Championship over the ensuing football season of 2011. That is how much I love this program. There is just something about college hockey that football can't touch. Don't know what it is, but it's there. For you lucky bastards who got to experience the 1990s, once again, I envy you.

James Burrill Angell

February 21st, 2014 at 9:43 PM ^

What about that rumor that Red's contract and Mike Babcock's contract both end in two years. Perhaps that's what everyone's waiting for.

If that's not the case, who DO you take In if Red walks away at the end of the year?

Wolverine Devotee

February 21st, 2014 at 9:58 PM ^

What does Babcock know about recruiting? What does he know about college hockey?

  • Danton Cole?
  • Jeff Blashill?

I'm going to punch someone if they suggest that a "Michigan Man has to coach a Michigan team".

Luckily (hopefully?) hockey doesn't have psychotic past players who don't accept an outsider due to an accent or "him not knowing about XYZ tradition" and etc.

James Burrill Angell

February 21st, 2014 at 10:33 PM ^

"oh and by the way Johnny Q Recruit, this is my Stanley Cup Ring, here's my scrapbook from coaching the Canadian Olympic team into two Gold Medal games and here's where I won the World Championship. OH and by the way did you know I was the first and only member of the IIHF coaching Triple Gold Club? That means I'm the only coach EVER to coach teams that won the Olympics, World Cup and Stanley Cup........but you know what would be DOPE....going for the Grand Slam! How about adding an NCAA Championship and I'd like you to be a part of that. What do you say to that EH?"

I think I'd be sending my son with that guy.

Bando Calrissian

February 21st, 2014 at 10:58 PM ^

And that title was, what, 25 years ago, in a rinky-dink Canadian college hockey environment that was even more backwater than American college hockey was at the same time? Both then and now, top-flight Canadian college-aged guys either play in Juniors or the United States. They're not playing in the Canadian leagues. It's not even comparable, or even relevant when it comes to recruiting experience.

Really, this Babcock-to-Michigan meme is nothing more than a nice little diversion from the reality that Mel Pearson was sent on a head coaching vacation to Houghton until Red hung 'em up. Babcock showing up at Yost is nothing more than the fact that the guy has a daughter at Michigan, likes to watch hockey, likes Red, and lives literally 15-20 minutes down the road from Yost. Michigan can't match Wings money, nor should they. Nor do I think this is a guy who would take a demotion to make college hockey money, recruit, and acclimate himself to an entirely different hockey universe at this stage in his career. This isn't the same as Red leaving for Michigan in the 80s.


February 21st, 2014 at 11:03 PM ^

Maybe he was a key cog to the monster that was Michigan Hockey in the 90's but he's done nothing in Houghton to make him a credible candidate other than "was at Michigan". Isn't that what we determined has basically submarined the football program?

When Red retires, we need to pull hockey out of that circle of incest before they follow the path of the football program.

Wolverine Devotee

February 21st, 2014 at 11:13 PM ^

Who are your candidates?

Danton Cole is a local guy at the US NTDP (who beat Michigan in December. Again. Because Michigan basically threw the game putting Luke Dwyer in). He took Alabama-Huntsville to the NCAA Tournament (!).

He was a candidate or was thought of as one for the state job but he didn't take it despite the fact that he played there. So I don't think the school ties thing would be an issue.

Jeff Blashill is another one. He turned WMU around in ONE season from a laughing stock in the conference.


February 21st, 2014 at 11:21 PM ^

I know little of the ins and outs of hockey coaching and am much more of a fan. There seems to be a good bit less variability in college hockey vs football and basketball as far as coaching goes. Guys like Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens or Chip Kelly and Guz Malzahn seem to have huge effects on programs just by their coaching alone; in hockey, you don't see much variability where a coach can take a program from nothing and make them elite. So it's hard for me (as a fairly casual observer) to see if there is a 'hot' name that I think we should pursue.

However, Gadowsky sure seems to be doing a hell of a job at Penn State so far....(sigh)

Bando Calrissian

February 21st, 2014 at 11:14 PM ^

What's he working with at Tech? A program that hasn't won a conference championship in over three decades, hasn't won a national title in almost four decades, located in the middle of freaking nowhere, that until this year was buried in a power conference where you're essentially already playing for fifth place when the season starts...

By all accounts he's a hell of a coach, who spent a long time biding his time as the heir apparent to Master Yoda until he couldn't wait any longer to build up the resume. We can cut it with the whole "Michigan Man" meme, this is a much different situation.

Bando Calrissian

February 21st, 2014 at 11:41 PM ^

Because he meets DB's criteria, he's Red's guy, and you've got an entire choir of alumni who played for Mel (a lot of whom are now making millions in the NHL), who are still a big part of the atmosphere and fabric of the program at Yost ,who will openly back Mel. Michigan Hockey isn't Michigan Football. There's a pretty unified scene around that program that Red has cultivated during his tenure, and Mel was a huge part of making that happen. It's a positive.

Shaking things up for the sake of shaking things up, because people are skittish about the "Michigan Man" hangup from football, risks imploding what has made Michigan Hockey a pretty well-insulated phenomenon from the sheer shitshow the other revenue programs became at the same time. 

The worst nightmare is Red's retirement presser not being a combined "here's the new guy" event. If Dave Brandon goes up there and utters the phrase "national search," go ahead and turn out the lights. It's over.


February 22nd, 2014 at 11:04 AM ^

Babcock is the best hockey coach in the world right now (even though he has criminally never won a Jack Adams). He's 50 and been with the Wings nearly 10 years. They seem to be going down rather than up right now, and it's plausible that in a couple years they might "want to go in a different direction." If Babcock decides he has nothing left to prove in the NHL (a Stanley Cup, two other trips to the finals, plus whatever he does between now and then), maybe he'll want to go to the relatively low-key college job, where you have 30 games a year instead of 82 plus playoffs. 

I don't think the pro to college jump is as big a deal as people are making it. Hockey is hockey, the only new issue is recruiting, and keeping guys from going to the OHL. I think he can handle it.

I know the whole Babcock-to-Michigan thing is kind of a pipe dream, but there is enough smoke around it that I want to believe. If it happens it would be awesome, but I'm not really counting on it.


February 21st, 2014 at 9:43 PM ^

You can see from Michigan football what happens when you try to change too fast. You can see from MSU hockey what happens when you don't change fast enough.

I'm of the opinion that Red should probably be retiring after this year or the next - whichever he wants. Bring someone similar but new, spend some cash and get someone great.


February 21st, 2014 at 11:11 PM ^

Ferris alum here. 

Daniels is roughly 55 now. I don't think he's leaving Big Rapids for anything other than retirement. He's a lifer at Ferris. 

Danton Cole is also likely a non-starter as well. I still don't know why he's not the head coach at Michigan State at this moment. 

Jeff Blashill is waiting for an NHL gig. I doubt he's headed back to the college ranks in the near future. 

I'm not sure anyone can win big at Tech anymore. My calendar says 2014, not 1977. They haven't been in the NCAA title hunt since John MacInnes died in 1983 or so. Your best bet is likely to grab Pearson and lure him back to Ann Arbor. 


February 21st, 2014 at 11:25 PM ^

Actually, it doesn't tell me much about Cole. It tells me just how bad the AD fucked up at Michigan State when he made that hire. 

Again, Blashill's not going backwards at this point, Pearson is in a place where no one's won anything in 30+ years, and even though Cole got fucked over by his alma mater, I don't see him coaching behind the home bench at Yost.

Bob Daniels is in a place where, frankly, Ferris can contend year in and year out, assuming that league stays together for a decade (dangerous proposition there). And if that league falls apart, it's likely to take 5 years to do so, give or take. At that point, he's pushing 60 and looking at retirement anyway. 


February 21st, 2014 at 9:44 PM ^

So can we finally stick a fork in the whole damn 2014 meme now please?  If there's any hidden blessing to be had in the loss last Sunday against Wisconsin and now the hockey team playing like the football team against Penn State it will be if that stupid thing goes the way of all the other memes we like to beat to fucking death.


February 21st, 2014 at 9:50 PM ^

Pay as much as is required. I've never figured out why we don't pay 4-7 million for a basketball/football coach. Beilein's great and maybe Hoke will be too, but we seem to never want to pay anything at all compared to Ohio.


February 21st, 2014 at 9:56 PM ^

What a crap-ass performance tonight.  Very frustrating team to watch, and I'm a big hockey fan.  I really don't know what the answer is, but it's time for some form of change. 

Glen Masons Hot Wife

February 21st, 2014 at 10:00 PM ^

I love Red, and I always will.

In talking with a couple recent former players, the sentiment (at least from these two) is that he's kind of losing it. Hurt to hear that.

The idea that he would hang on two more years just so Babcock can step in is kind of fucking ridiculous. They need to find the best young mind in the game when Red decides to step down.

He's too old to scream at these kids. And in fact, that's a big part of his coaching style. And that's not a criticism. He turned around team after team.

He's had a great run, and he is one of the best ever.... i think its time for him to prepare the program for its next phase... sadly


February 21st, 2014 at 10:29 PM ^

This program will probably never have a more legendary coach (Heyliger is up for discussion as well) so I hate to feel like we need to discuss him leaving. He literally took Michigan hockey from nothing to a top 5-10 program every single year for 20+ years. It's incredible what he's done here and I'll forever appreciate it...but  he's slipping. I hope he sees it and retires so we don't have to discuss this much more.

I hope we can get him another high point or two. Maybe a Big Ten tournament title or another frozen four berth because I'd hate to send him out with a whimper. Doesn't seem right for a coach as legendary as he is

Bando Calrissian

February 21st, 2014 at 10:45 PM ^

But haven't we been holding out hope on that "maybe he'll just string together a miracle next year!" routine for about a decade? And what always happens? 

It's sad, but they come and they go. Coaches get old, and coaches retire. It's not like it's news that Red is up there in years. It's this attitude of being reluctant to talk about Red leaving that has set Michigan Hockey back, IMO.