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Chuck Murray
02-13-2016, 09:57 AM
My, how quickly time flies when you're having *fun* ... and as we reach the stretch run of another season of UNH Hockey the optimism that oozed from the program after a promising finish to last season has evaporated into "more of the same" disappointment, disgust and (perhaps worst of all) apathy that's been developing around the program during its gradual slide in receding from the prominence of the "glory years" of the seasons on either side of the turn of the century. Some on here had presciently sounded the warnings of a possible "false dawn" of the program, while others (myself very much included) naively fell hook, line and sinker for the combination of a young team seemingly stocked with promising talent, which had finished last season with an uncharacteristically strong February and early March run, noticed what looked to be a soft schedule tailor made to accommodate the next step forward, and jumped to some exciting conclusions.

But once the season got underway ... instead of the typically promising bright early start to the season to pick up where things had been left off at the Garden last March ... it was back to the monotonous Chinese water torture of yet another drip-drip-drip, gradual slide back from the level the program had stagnated at these last few seasons, when they'd been a .500 team waiting to go in one direction or the other. And that direction sadly continues the downward trend of the program, where now UNH stands as a sub-.500 team with sub-.500 talent, and (truth be told) sub-.500 coaching headed up by a head coach who's apparently *earned* the right in his own mind to operate at 70% capacity by virtually checking out of any significant involvement in determining and monitoring the supply of new talent coming into *his* program.

Long gone by over a dozen years now are the 4-out-of-6 season trips to the Frozen Four, and the twice in 5 seasons trips to the D-1 Finals. More recently departed are the near-annual trips to Boston for the HE Tourney, and the virtually annual trips to the D-1 Tourney ... so a lot of the competitive joy and *fun* of participating in these events are fond memories and nothing else but pie-in-the-sky hopes (not goals or expectations) for an underperforming program. In place of the old *fun* though ... if you look hard enough, there are any number of *interesting* situations which may be coming to a head in the coming weeks/months/years. The old Chinese adage (or more accurately, curse) goes to the effect of "May you live in interesting times", and if nothing else, I think UNH fans are indeed entering such an era, and the aftermath is something that will turn on the outcome of various on-ice and off-ice issues that have become very *interesting*, to wit:

* The Incredible Shrinking Lifetime Contract - already a fait accompli, last summer our far too complacent, what me worry, nothing but blue skies, "I've been doing this for more than 35 years" AD finally moved to frame an end game to our previous head coach in perpetuity approach. This came a year after ditching the "Cronyism 'R Us" approach to the assistant coaching appointments, and with the arrival of a second straight appointment of a young alum to fill a vacancy. Suddenly, the term "succession plan" was being publicly discussed ... and even when it turned out the young successors were both arguably protégés of the suddenly finite, former HC-in-perpetuity, the message was clear: BS35+y had finally run out of patience waiting for the turnaround. The outer limit of the Umile Era was now clearly defined ... and now with that done, the *interesting* question might be Will Coach Umile actually see out - or more fittingly perhaps, will he be allowed to see out - the end of his final UNH contract?

* Remind Me Why I Took This Job? - with the above events playing out around the future of Coach Umile, and with some light shed on what the post-Umile era might look like, some *interesting* loose ends have come into view, starting with the circumstances behind the departure of Coach Borek to Providence. Long believed to have had "no interest" in succeeding Coach Umile, yet as a former D-1 HC himself who had patiently worked as Coach Umile's long-time assistant, while apparently running the program's recruiting efforts with a virtual blank checkbook, it emerged from some sources that Coach Borek had indeed harbored aspirations to take over the UNH program, and when he asked to "get it in writing" from our uber-experienced AD, he set in motion the events that would lead to his exit from the program, and the arrival of Coach Souza, who was quickly designated as "The Next One". In the meantime, Coach Stewart - another UNH alum with roughly twice Coach Souza's D-1 coaching experience, who came to UNH only as a lateral move (and why does one accept a lateral career change, if not for better hopes of future advancement?) - must question his future in the program. Is Coach Stewart happy with being a lieutenant at UNH, or might he be the next coach to leave the program?

* Who's in Charge of This Jammed Pipeline? - with the advent of the changes to the current (and future) coaching staff as outlined above, the program's main supplier for the last decade or so is now plying his wares down in Providence, which may or may not be a good thing (TBD). The short-term future of the program - Umile's Last Stand - is pretty much cast in stone (or perhaps something slightly softer?), and mixed in among a few projected standouts are what appears to be more of the same mid-range prospects that had come to define the most recently arrived UNH recruiting classes. And as we've seen some de-commits and departures from the program in the wake of the Borek situation, and Coach Umile's failure to establish anything remotely approaching a bond with these suddenly stranded players, unexpected openings in the recruiting pipeline have opened up. But the rate of incomings over the last 9 months has been shockingly slow, and we're probably all going to learn the true meaning of "one man's trash becoming another man's treasure" as UNH picks through the leftovers to fill some of these near-term openings. Who is now actually in charge of recruiting, will UNH dump some of the more marginal incoming Borek leftovers, and does Umile or Souza make that call?

* Leaks and Gluts in the Pipeline, Sir! - Foegele leaves, Ryczek never comes, and there is much speculation about whether or not Poturalski will be back for his last two years of eligibility. Like Coach Umile's incredible shrinking lifetime contract, the much-ballyhooed recruiting classes of the last few seasons that were to make the resurrection of the UNH program likewise seem to be shrinking away. But one area of the pipeline that has been suspiciously untouched and now looks overcommitted is at goalie, where it now appears there will be three (3) legitimate D-1 goalies fighting for time for the next two seasons. Clark - the senior member of the threesome - started his UNH career as the #1 guy for a semester but may well spend the last two years of his career as the #3 guy. The guy who sent Clark to #2 - Tirone - now stands to face stiff competition from NHL draft pick Robinson, who comes in next season. For a program that has long transitioned smoothly at the goalie position, with only slight hitches from time to time, this is uncharted territory. At least one of the 3 goalies is going to be very unhappy - two have already experienced being a D-1 #1 goalie for extended periods, and the other will expect to be a D-1 #1 goalie sooner than later. Who is the odd man (men?) out of this bizarre situation?

* Give That Man a (Participation) Medal - after last season's botched captaincy appointment, in which the program selected a great kid (by all accounts) who'd struggled to stay in the line-up for his first 3 seasons due to a combination of limited talent and bad luck with injuries to act as their Captain ... which then (surprise, surprise) resulted in said Captain missing most of the season due to another injury, and playing to limited effectiveness before said injury - next season's selections would appear pretty straight-forward and idiot-proof. It's a small class, and folks like Kelleher and Cleland on the surface would seem to be prominent on-ice leaders of the team as it stands right now (some of us had thought TK should have been in THIS season's designated leadership team). Maller and Hill (the latter only if he returns for a 5th year senior season) are the only others in that class, and Maller's injury history (and Hill's in-the-stands history) bring back some sore spots from last season's decision-making process. Will the team make the right selections this year? And if they don't, and make another well-intentioned yet bizarre selection like they did last April ... will Coach Umile be bothered enough to step in and save the boys from their impressionable but misguided selves?

So yeah, there are a few *interesting* things to be watching - other than the disappointing on-ice results - to gauge the future direction of the program. I'm still hoping against hope that something can be salvaged from this forgettable season but for some of the various reasons discussed above, this *may* be one of those transitional years we look back at down the road, and say this is where things began to change, and to fall into place for the next great era of UNH Hockey. Dare to dream the big dreams ... because this increasingly creeping mediocrity is really curbing my enthusiasm, and I can't help but think it's been having a similar impact on increasingly more UNH fans as time goes by ... :(

NCAA watcher
02-13-2016, 10:10 AM
Just one additonal point in the timeline that I was not aware of before. Re the lifetime contract, and the succession plan from "7-8 years ago" alluded to by Bomber.


Dick Umile, a six-time Hockey East Coach of the Year, enters his 25th season as the head coach of the UNH Wildcats. He passed both Jerry York and Jack Parker in becoming the first coach in league history to six coach of the year honors. After signing a long-term contract in 2008, Umile will conclude his coaching career at his alma mater.

http://www.unhwildcats.com/coaches.aspx?path=mhockey&rc=18


Originally Posted by bomberhockey
I wish the original plan for him to be the HC had happened 7-8 years ago. Then if he were no longer here it would all be on him.

http://board.uscho.com/showthread.php?113443-UNH-Wildcats-2015-2016-(Part-One)-Return-of-the-quot-Champions-of-December-quot/page2&p=6234882#post6234882

Felger
02-13-2016, 11:38 AM
the optimism that oozed from the program after a promising finish to last season

Seriously, Chuck, I never got where this mindset was coming from. I consider you one of the more analytical/critical observers on this board and am still surprised to see you mention this. As I have mention several times, this team was picked to finish 6th and 8th in the preseason polls, and that is where it will likely end up.

Snively65
02-13-2016, 12:28 PM
Hey, our work is not done on our last thread yet. :-)

Chuck Murray
02-13-2016, 12:55 PM
Hey, our work is not done on our last thread yet. :-)

Hey, just because the HC is going through the motions these days, doesn't mean I have to follow suit, lower my standards, and do the bare minimum. Heck, the volume of the content on the OP alone on this one is enough to choke a horse. :D

I could have made sarcastic references to delegating this thread to my so-called "minions", but that bit flew over a fellow poster's head not too long ago, causing some bad feelings, so I'm not going down the subtle path this time.

Chuck Murray
02-13-2016, 01:23 PM
Seriously, Chuck, I never got where this mindset was coming from. I consider you one of the more analytical/critical observers on this board and am still surprised to see you mention this. As I have mention several times, this team was picked to finish 6th and 8th in the preseason polls, and that is where it will likely end up.

I don't set my expectations based on polls. I think the overall mindset of many (perhaps a majority?) following the program was that the team finished strong last season, had found a goalie solution, and had a lot of talented frosh who were poised to make the next step, and some promising incoming frosh to fill in some gaps. Plus the aforementioned cream-filled Twinkie early season NC schedule. And the fabled Jumbotron had finally materialized. I think a winning season was not really that much of a reach, with more to follow next year.

We did know that the D would be limited, but probably assumed some degree of progression, which frankly hasn't happened (at least in part due to the late miss on Ryczek). And we didn't know Coach Umile would push his "senior checking line" to first line status - heck, the stubborn old goat still lists them as his first line, notwithstanding their decreasing ice time. He turned out to be a slave to his old process, and yeah, maybe that should have been foreseeable? But even a middle of the pack HE team should have a winning record, no? I don't think anyone expected the bottom half of HE to turn into the competitive wasteland that has surprisingly emerged this season.

I've not been one to criticize Coach Umile on a knee-jerk basis (I save that treatment for his boss :D ), but most of what's happened to this year's team can be laid squarely on his doorstep. He's had a good (if not great) run, and accomplished more in the job than did his legendary mentor, which is no small feat. But somewhere along the way, he got comfy just taking care of the game/practice pieces of his job, and left other folks to sweat the other details. Maybe that was happening all along? Either way, that's now catching up to him, and those chickens are coming home to roost.

In the end, Felgie ... yeah, I was admittedly naïve to think UNH would post a winning record this season, and at least threaten to qualify for the NCAA's. But there were reasons to believe a corner had been turned at the end of last season ... of course the problem being, the turn was not so much a change of direction, but rather a resumption of the slow progressive slide that's been going on for a decade or so now. Business as usual has unfortunately been restored.

Darius
02-13-2016, 01:53 PM
I don't set my expectations based on polls. I think the overall mindset of many (perhaps a majority?) following the program was that the team finished strong last season, had found a goalie solution, and had a lot of talented frosh who were poised to make the next step, and some promising incoming frosh to fill in some gaps. Plus the aforementioned cream-filled Twinkie early season NC schedule. And the fabled Jumbotron had finally materialized. I think a winning season was not really that much of a reach, with more to follow next year.

We did know that the D would be limited, but probably assumed some degree of progression, which frankly hasn't happened (at least in part due to the late miss on Ryczek). And we didn't know Coach Umile would push his "senior checking line" to first line status - heck, the stubborn old goat still lists them as his first line, notwithstanding their decreasing ice time. He turned out to be a slave to his old process, and yeah, maybe that should have been foreseeable? But even a middle of the pack HE team should have a winning record, no? I don't think anyone expected the bottom half of HE to turn into the competitive wasteland that has surprisingly emerged this season.

I've not been one to criticize Coach Umile on a knee-jerk basis (I save that treatment for his boss :D ), but most of what's happened to this year's team can be laid squarely on his doorstep. He's had a good (if not great) run, and accomplished more in the job than did his legendary mentor, which is no small feat. But somewhere along the way, he got comfy just taking care of the game/practice pieces of his job, and left other folks to sweat the other details. Maybe that was happening all along? Either way, that's now catching up to him, and those chickens are coming home to roost.

In the end, Felgie ... yeah, I was admittedly naïve to think UNH would post a winning record this season, and at least threaten to qualify for the NCAA's. But there were reasons to believe a corner had been turned at the end of last season ... of course the problem being, the turn was not so much a change of direction, but rather a resumption of the slow progressive slide that's been going on for a decade or so now. Business as usual has unfortunately been restored.I am with you for sure. As for the "first" line thing, at this point it is just a formality, rewarding seniors, perhaps Coach is being true to his word and even more perhaps-ly(?) has to do with two way play?

Snively65
02-13-2016, 02:05 PM
Hey, just because the HC is going through the motions these days, doesn't mean I have to follow suit, lower my standards, and do the bare minimum. Heck, the volume of the content on the OP alone on this one is enough to choke a horse. :D

I could have made sarcastic references to delegating this thread to my so-called "minions", but that bit flew over a fellow poster's head not too long ago, causing some bad feelings, so I'm not going down the subtle path this time.

Ok, got it, you are delegating closing out our last thread to your "minions." Yes, we lieutenants can manage that. :-)

Dan
02-13-2016, 03:50 PM
And we didn't know Coach Umile would push his "senior checking line" to first line status - heck, the stubborn old goat still lists them as his first line, notwithstanding their decreasing ice time.

Like Felger, I never had much in the way of expectations for this year's team and I agree with Darius that the senior playing time is what it is at this point. Still, this is one of the biggest issues of this season. Their playing time has not really decreased. They still play as Umile's second scoring line and his favorite defensive line. When I was back in NH to watch them play NU and ND, they were playing just as many shifts as the Poturalski line (often taking the longest shifts of any line) playing first PK and playing half of the PP time. This in spite of the fact that, aside from Correale, the senior forwards (Hill included) have combined to score less points (19-19-38) than either Poturalski (46) or Kelleher (42) have scored individually. If Umile is playing them for their two-way acumen, its hard to see his reasoning in their combined -40 plus/minus. How would this team's current record compare to the record of a team who's forwards had been deployed on merit and not seniority?

What would their record be if they had run this line-up out all year (with appropriate corresponding ice time)? Any different? The same?

Correale - Poturalski - Kelleher
Eiserman - Vela - Foegel
Nazarian - McNicholas - Gaudreault
Salvaggio/Miller - Smith - MacDonald/Hill

1st PP - Poturalski, Kelleher, Correale
2nd PP - Eiserman, Vela, Foegel, McNicholas

1st PK - Correale, Vela
2nd PK - Hill/Gaudreault, Nazarian

----

Additionally, Clark's injury has been a huge detriment to this team's success. He isn't an All-HE caliber goaltender, but he would be a lot more steady than Tirone has been. If he had played as the #1 since his first start at Union would this team's record be any different? Would his presence have at least given Tirone the time off to get back to back to an acceptable level as the starter?

There is reason to believe this team could/should be 14-10-4 instead of 10-14-4 - not that 14-10-4 is anything to get excited about. As much as we want to respect the players and their efforts, some of them are just not cut out for the roles they've been given. Meanwhile, younger players with more talent have been stifled. The defense is easy to blame - they're bad. Coaching decisions have been equally as bad and have cost them just as much as the defense (if not more - Foegel)...

I always knew this team was a long shot for the TD Garden and the NCAA Tournament - but they should/could be better than they have been with a healthy Clark and proper forward deployment...

wildcatdc
02-13-2016, 04:39 PM
Hey, just because the HC is going through the motions these days, doesn't mean I have to follow suit, lower my standards, and do the bare minimum. Heck, the volume of the content on the OP alone on this one is enough to choke a horse. :D

I could have made sarcastic references to delegating this thread to my so-called "minions", but that bit flew over a fellow poster's head not too long ago, causing some bad feelings, so I'm not going down the subtle path this time.

Keep it up, Chuck. You started this thread in advance of the last one closing (just like you did the last thread, actually!!) because last year you had a hissy fit over the fact that someone else started the end-of-the-season thread and you couldn't handle it. Seriously, pathetic.

You hang curveballs like nobody I know.

Snively65
02-13-2016, 04:40 PM
Like Felger, I never had much in the way of expectations for this year's team and I agree with Darius that the senior playing time is what it is at this point. Still, this is one of the biggest issues of this season. Their playing time has not really decreased. They still play as Umile's second scoring line and his favorite defensive line. When I was back in NH to watch them play NU and ND, they were playing just as many shifts as the Poturalski line (often taking the longest shifts of any line) playing first PK and playing half of the PP time. This in spite of the fact that, aside from Correale, the senior forwards (Hill included) have combined to score less points (19-19-38) than either Poturalski (46) or Kelleher (42) have scored individually. If Umile is playing them for their two-way acumen, its hard to see his reasoning in their combined -40 plus/minus. How would this team's current record compare to the record of a team who's forwards had been deployed on merit and not seniority?

What would their record be if they had run this line-up out all year (with appropriate corresponding ice time)? Any different? The same?

Correale - Poturalski - Kelleher
Eiserman - Vela - Foegel
Nazarian - McNicholas - Gaudreault
Salvaggio/Miller - Smith - MacDonald/Hill

1st PP - Poturalski, Kelleher, Correale
2nd PP - Eiserman, Vela, Foegel, McNicholas

1st PK - Correale, Vela
2nd PK - Hill/Gaudreault, Nazarian

----

Additionally, Clark's injury has been a huge detriment to this team's success. He isn't an All-HE caliber goaltender, but he would be a lot more steady than Tirone has been. If he had played as the #1 since his first start at Union would this team's record be any different? Would his presence have at least given Tirone the time off to get back to back to an acceptable level as the starter?

There is reason to believe this team could/should be 14-10-4 instead of 10-14-4 - not that 14-10-4 is anything to get excited about. As much as we want to respect the players and their efforts, some of them are just not cut out for the roles they've been given. Meanwhile, younger players with more talent have been stifled. The defense is easy to blame - they're bad. Coaching decisions have been equally as bad and have cost them just as much as the defense (if not more - Foegel)...

I always knew this team was a long shot for the TD Garden and the NCAA Tournament - but they should/could be better than they have been with a healthy Clark and proper forward deployment...

Excellent summary!

Dan
02-13-2016, 06:32 PM
Thought UNH played well enough for the win tonight, but a couple of pillows from Tirone and they settle for a 2-2 tie and just one point on the weekend...

Chuck Murray
02-13-2016, 07:07 PM
Keep it up, Chuck. You started this thread in advance of the last one closing (just like you did the last thread, actually!!) because last year you had a hissy fit over the fact that someone else started the end-of-the-season thread and you couldn't handle it. Seriously, pathetic.

You hang curveballs like nobody I know.

Y'know, this isn't the only UNH-related topic thread nearing 1,000 that got refreshed late this week ...

... but hey ho, there you go, 'dc, you've got it all figured out I guess. :rolleyes:

Tell you what - go ahead and start Part 4 tonight if it's important to you, and I'll delete this, OK?

We went years without me starting a thread ... and I'm the one having a "hissy fit"????

Seriously, you're starting to creep me out ...

C-H-C
02-13-2016, 09:59 PM
"Vermont and UNH Skate to a 2-2 Tie" (http://unhhockeyblog.blogspot.com/2016/02/vermont-and-unh-skate-to-2-2-tie.html)

by Parker Wheeler

Darius
02-13-2016, 10:09 PM
Much better, more physical tonight. Good for Eiserman. Has me wondering...

Eiserman - Poturalski - TK
Correale - Gaudreault/Smith - Vela
Smith/Gaudreault - McN - Hill
Salvaggio/Cefalu - Naz - Miller

HockeyRef
02-14-2016, 08:06 AM
Too bad we couldn't get more than a pt. out of the weekend..at least Shane E got on track (and kicked out but his heroics at the end were 'justified' and the 'Cats managed to survive it). I think Dan had many legit 'what if's' for this season which really was supposed to go much better than anticipated although a few of us around the 'Whitt expected a similar season to last year. Of course it ain't over yet so with the 4 regular season games left (how did that happen??) we'll need some major help next week at BU (we could take a point or two, hey it could happen) and MAYBE...should?? get a sweep of UConn. Who we'd be playing first round of the 'you all get to play' HE tournament if it started right now if I have my info correct (personally I'm totally fine with this. More hockey. Delays the Pots announcement too for those of us steeling ourselves for this one :( ) Bring it on I say!

Nice standing O the 'Whitt gave Coach U last night on his 1000th game although I missed it as I was helping an elderly gent with a medical crisis in the stands who had somehow cut himself while trying to get to his seat. sigh. At least...we didn't lose.

Snively65
02-14-2016, 08:23 AM
Much better, more physical tonight. Good for Eiserman. Has me wondering...

Eiserman - Poturalski - TK
Correale - Gaudreault/Smith - Vela
Smith/Gaudreault - McN - Hill
Salvaggio/Cefalu - Naz - Miller

Or,
Eiserman-Poturalski-Kelleher
Salvaggio-Nazarian-Vela
Cefalu-McNicolas-Miller
Correale-Smith-Gaudreault/Hill

Correale has wiffed on a bunch of easy set ups for open net goals lately.

Snively65
02-14-2016, 09:14 AM
In reply to Chuck's thoughts about our postseason prospects, on the now closed second season thread, I think that if we pick up 4 points from our last four games, as he predicts, we should get home ice in the first round. The four bottom dwellers have some tough opponents, and only UMO and Mac play against one another.

Chuck Murray
02-14-2016, 09:21 AM
I'm tempted to ask 'Watcher to check in to provide us with the latest projections for the "March to 600" campaign, but with 10 wins so far (and I'll project a final tally of 12 wins when all is said and done) this season, it seems like the march (crawl?) is probably behind schedule and runs the risk of coming up short two years from now.

Chuck Murray
02-14-2016, 09:36 AM
In reply to Chuck's thoughts about our postseason prospects, on the now closed second season thread, I think that if we pick up 4 points from our last four games, as he predicts, we should get home ice in the first round. The four bottom dwellers have some tough opponents, and only UMO and Mac play against one another.

Good take, Snively65. I hadn't looked too closely at what our fellow also-rans did this weekend. Northeastern and UVM were the clear winners, Merrimack did well to get a point, UNH did poorly to do the same, and UConn :p , UMaine and UMass-Amherst all capitulated against stronger opposition. But that "poor" UNH point could be a big one, given that it did allow them to "gain" on some teams who could catch them for 8th and the final home seed for the MBPBEGAM round of the playoffs. So I'm on board with your assessment, Snively65.