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John_Fuller
11-27-2010, 06:16 PM
I figured this was worth a separate discussion so I don't hijack the in-season thread. This has been a tough decision for me on whether or not to post but I feel as a UML fan for a long time, it needs to be discussed.

We have gone from a 2009 HE championship appearance to 2-10-2 in less than 18 months. After watching the last four games, I now have serious questions about the long term future with Coach and his staff. Don't get me wrong; to those on the board that know me here and to the ones that personally know me, I have and will support this coach and team to the very end. However, it's getting to the point where I can't really objectively defend him or the team that is on the ice. There are some good parallels with this team to Ron Anderson's tenure at Merrimack 12-15 years ago.

So I put this question now to Lowell fans, is it time for change? I've already seem some signatures on this board looking for this action and even walking around the arena today, I get the sense of restlessness from the home fans of late.

PS: Serious discussion and comments only...if this turns into a flame fest, I will pull this post w/o hesitation.

mikeinlowell
11-27-2010, 07:52 PM
I think in perspective, the showing this season looks worse than it is when compounded by the tremendous disappointment of last year. That said, we have gone from a 5-7th place team in HE to 10th out of 10. I have been feeling that we were in the same position we were in when the coach first arrived, now I think we are even worse. There was clearly no thought put in past 2009. All our pucks apparently were in that net, and now we are supposed to wait three years until this years freshmen class are seniors? It is difficult to justify the expense put into the arena, and sad to have to sell season tickets based on the quality of our opponents, instead of the team. Is it the coaching? Quality of the recruits or recruiters? I don't know. There are people above my pay scale who are supposed to know that, and are not getting it done. Is Massie coming back next sememster? Does it matter? And, who will we lose over the break? Time will tell....

Patman
11-27-2010, 08:15 PM
There have been a couple of running themes. The first one is the failure of class progression. The second is the new promise. This has been generated mostly as a matter of our lopsided class sizes. After the 01-02 season we saw two class rotations dictated by the numbers glut in the 2006 and 2010 class. The 2006 class seemed to fall apart after Ben Walter left... to me that seems to be a bit of a mistake as teams routinely lose their top player either through NHL or graduation progression... this is why I didn't think 01-02 was going to be bad after Hainsey... of course I came to it with my high schooler football/basketball view... losing Hainsey was no worse than losing a senior... and well, except for the loss of rhythm during the Olympics they were pretty good. Nevertheless, a team that was supposed to progressed went from 5th to 8th... bad luck, puck luck... whatnot... whatever. We then saw the 2010 class... right away we knew they had better talent and they were faster. Granted, all of college hockey has gotten better... I stand by my comment that the 04-05 UConn team would have been smoked by the 08-09 UConn team when I left school and they were 2nd to last in the nation both years... all that aside. We saw a team that took a big run in 08-09... they came together and made solid sound plays. You know when a team is good? Its when your team is making the smart tactical ways in a manner that you know better than the other team and there isn't anything they can do about it... that's what I saw in the 08-09 run... and then to come out flat in 09-10... I figured losing in that manner on that stage would mean that each player would work like crazy in the off-season, ala Rocky. To me, I saw a team that forgot how to play with that sound tactical edge and sound play that neutralized a sharp Vermont team, beat Northeastern, and went to the limit against a deserving national champion in BU. Do players forget such things? I want to believe "no"... but there we were. There was no urgency... the words were all the same "adherence to the system" and "we can beat anybody on any given night"... and you know what... for all that is wrong with that, they believed it, I'm sure of it. After awhile though, when you hear the players verbalize the same thing every time, aside from the differences of their dream date, you seem to get a picture that while they may believe, something is amiss.

So, what do I take from what I've seen so far. Unfortunately, I'll never be a hockey analyst, and on any given night I usually don't give a **** about the other teams and their progression. That being said, its difficult to understand when you return core groups of players and they step backwards. Granted, the players all mention (both 2006 run and 2010 run) how much better they are... except when it comes time to apply it on the ice.

I'm really starting to come to the opinion, as ignorant as it may be, that Blaise's regimen, the way he runs philosophy and other matters aren't working. Worse, I think it runs counter to the traditional UMass-Lowell blue collar culture. Now, granted, this is not a sin if you are winning... but there just seems to be something off about the whole deal. I can't help but wonder if I 2014 that I don't hear Mr. Arnold amongst others talk about how much they've progressed, buy into the system, and yet they're floundering in 6th... of course its a marathon and not a sprint, and we can play with anybody in the country. Maybe I'm old school... when I play sports I want to win and if I can win I want to win by a dozen. When I listen to the players and the coach I don't hear what I hear when I do listen to other teams and programs on occasion (if I'm really board, the late-UAA/UAF games can be interesting). Of course we aren't the only program to flounder in general.

What I do think though, is that fair or not, people form opinions on coaches and programs. We just put a lot of investment into a building and while I'm certainly not in hockey circles I have to wonder if our issues with progression will start to take a toll on recruiting. Monty, please correct me if I'm wrong, but we are routinely last in the game of advance year and current year recruits. While our recruiting budget tends to be lowest in the league, I'm wondering what else this is saying... is that we have lots of excitement around except in the eyes of 17 year old hockey players. I know UMass-Lowell is rarely a target destination, but I remember being a freshman at UML in 2000... we've come a long long way as a school and as a hockey program... unfortunately this has in some way come about due to peril, and lord knows that either instance, 2001 or 2008? affected recruiting. Nevertheless, Blaise has been at Lowell 10 years. Its certainly time enough to get a brand and while I trust him to raise quality humans and I think he's excelled at that, I'm not sure if I trust him to develop hockey players to produce on the ice at a level that gets us into the NCAA tournament once every 5 years.

This is all my opinion... going forward... I want to start hearing a hockey coach and not a cliche using life-mentor. Of course, the real reason the concern is starting to brew is that this long one year may look like another long 4. Another long 4 is not excusable and it should certainly be terminable. I would say this much. Nobody should accept a resignation to failure. We're a blue-collar school... we're not here to resign ourselves to failure and we didn't go to school to do the same.

CatMan UNH
11-27-2010, 09:29 PM
UML seems to be in a predictable cycle year in and year out. Year 1- Bring in huge freshman class (due to huge number of Seniors graduating last year]. Young team takes its lumps and finishes near bottom of pack.

Year 2-Sophmore driven class show some improvement, moves up a few places in standings but remains a relative non-factor.
Year 3-Team shows promise, flirts with 5-6 place finish and has the UML faithful excited about the end of season improvement and great hopes for next season.
Year 4- Team full of seniors is highly ranked with , sometimes picked near or at the top of the league. Team underachieves finishes closer to the middle of the pack.

Start cycle over again. Unbalanced classes prevents UML from putting a good run together.

leswp1
11-27-2010, 09:52 PM
Can't give an opinion on whether things should change or not. Some thoughts I have:

Wondering if having them almost kill the program a few yrs back set us back to square one as far as any plans that were in the works. Alot of these things are planned in an incremental way. I know we lost a lot of what we were planning on. I would also imagine that we lost momentum as far as recruiting went for the ones we would have been starting to 'court'.

No one seems to be noticing is the number of guys we have injured. The leaders of the team are out of the lineup. We are pretty beat up. If the guys who are the spark plugs are either out or playing on half their cylinders this can not help things. I don't think we have been at the full compliment for weeks now.

Not making excuses. I cannot remember I time I have felt this negative toward the possibilities for the team. At least tonight they had some intensity in spurts but the last few games have been snoozers with horrible hockey being played- not skill but decision making with the puck.

And as far as planning to have the top player leave- they usually don't do it a few weeks before the season starts and I am pretty sure that it was not the decision that was expected when they were talking.

Patman
11-27-2010, 10:14 PM
And as far as planning to have the top player leave- they usually don't do it a few weeks before the season starts and I am pretty sure that it was not the decision that was expected when they were talking.

No, but its hockey, you can never get a freshman to replace that kind of a player unless your freshman's name is "Parise" but the impact of that loss shouldn't be as large as it "was".

UMLFan
11-27-2010, 10:20 PM
I'm going to post more on this tomorrow, but have heard a name that would work very well for me.

John_Fuller
11-27-2010, 10:33 PM
I have been feeling that we were in the same position we were in when the coach first arrived, now I think we are even worse.

Mike,

Part of this post is to see if I'm in left field here or something and this proves to me that I'm not. I hate to admit it, but I have the same feeling.

ChiefWahoo
11-27-2010, 10:50 PM
It's November. You should wait until March and see how your team ends up before breaking out the torches and pitchforks.

John_Fuller
11-27-2010, 10:52 PM
Wondering if having them almost kill the program a few yrs back set us back to square one as far as any plans that were in the works. Alot of these things are planned in an incremental way. I know we lost a lot of what we were planning on. I would also imagine that we lost momentum as far as recruiting went for the ones we would have been starting to 'court'.

There is no question that our recruiting took a hit a few years back because of this issue and this set us back immensely.



No one seems to be noticing is the number of guys we have injured. The leaders of the team are out of the lineup. We are pretty beat up. If the guys who are the spark plugs are either out or playing on half their cylinders this can not help things. I don't think we have been at the full compliment for weeks now.

Most Lowell fans know the injuries problems of late. However, it seems (again to the casual observer), that every year we seem to miss significant player time which is unusually disproportionate to other teams in the league. This year it has been Campbell and Cey, last year we saw Goers and Dehner (among several), the year before that it was Robo. While all teams have injuries, it seem to be most of a pattern than a rule.


Not making excuses. I cannot remember I time I have felt this negative toward the possibilities for the team. At least tonight they had some intensity in spurts but the last few games have been snoozers with horrible hockey being played- not skill but decision making with the puck.

This is the pain of this...my whole point in this post is that I'm not sure of what to do either. The problem that I see is that "it ain't working" and the bigger issue "is it fixable?" Patrick has some great points in his post and even a UNH fan sees the "wash, rinse, spin, repeat" cycle that has been happening in some cases since 1996.

Unfortunately, in my heart, I can't decide or have a complete answer to that question "Is it fixable?"

irishfan85
11-27-2010, 11:27 PM
As a Merrimack fan, I've always liked to see Lowell do well against teams other than Merrimack. I'm not asking this as a challenge or to suggest Blaise should stay, but who would UML fans like to see as the head coach? I'm always curious in situations like this. Is there a former assistant who has gone on to be successful somewhere else or a former player that has had success in coaching at juniors or another level? One name that I presume would be hard to get, but would be pretty cool is a former UML player and Edmonton Oilers head coach.

goUMLgoBC
11-28-2010, 12:13 AM
I've only been following the team closely since last season, so I have a couple of unknowns that I should figure out before I form an opinion on this one.

- On paper, the class-stacking idea doesn't seem like a bad idea for a smaller team (smaller school, smaller budget) to slowly get better. Bring in a big class, struggle for a year or two, then for their junior and senior years, play with some promise. This play gets better recruits, then the program can progress. The question is, has this worked? Is the current class of recruits better as a whole than the recruits from four years ago? It's a little tough to tell now because they're most likely playing more because of upperclass injuries.

- How much time is left on Blaise's contract? Even if they do want to get rid of him, I don't think the school's administration will be happy buying out the rest of a long contract.

- Who are we looking at to replace him?

- Now that the school owns the arena, they get money from advertising and concessions, but they also have to pay for running the concessions and the building's operating costs. I'm no insider so I'm not too sure how much more money they're generating by owning the building, if any, and how much of that goes to the hockey program. Is there an active booster club? I know there's the Center Ice Club run by the athletic department, but is that the only other way the team raises funds? How can these revenues be improved upon to provide scholarship aid and help make the team and school more attractive to recruits and their families?

- How is the attitude on campus? The school has started moving towards a campus with a higher amounts of students residing on campus and has a larger overall student body than in the past. The AHL team is gone. This seems like it is the formula for success and boosted attendance, which should help the program.

Sorry for the long-winded comments. There's no doubt in my mind that the team is still feeling the far reaching recruiting effects of possibly being shut down. Hopefully with the purchase of the arena and the renovations, the team can use that as a way to attract better players. It is a smaller school, both in enrollment and athletic department power (DII school) but there's something to be said for playing in an awesome rink in Hockey East.

leswp1
11-28-2010, 06:38 AM
Student participation has been improving but it is tough to keep bums in the seats when it is so painful to watch. Until the last few yrs the admin support was anemic if present. Now that Marty is Chancellor this has changed and things were moving in the right direction. Tough to tell because this weekend the students were home and the team was not a big team. The student section has certainly been more present but not organized yet.

acs64
11-28-2010, 06:54 AM
I thought the unbalanced classes that he inherited was one of Blaise's biggest beefs when he took over from Whitehead. He's been there, what, almost 10 years now and he hasnt been able to correct this perceived problem? I'd say thats all on his shoulders now.

walrus
11-28-2010, 07:31 AM
You can have Tim back

leswp1
11-28-2010, 07:40 AM
Aren' you a man of humor...

mookie1995
11-28-2010, 07:56 AM
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leswp1
11-28-2010, 08:04 AM
Thank you fro the earworm.

UVM Cat in Texas
11-28-2010, 08:57 AM
At least you guys still own UVM..... Not trying to start anything, just directing your attention to a bright spot. ;)

UMLFan
11-28-2010, 09:18 AM
I thought the unbalanced classes that he inherited was one of Blaise's biggest beefs when he took over from Whitehead. He's been there, what, almost 10 years now and he hasnt been able to correct this perceived problem? I'd say thats all on his shoulders now.
Yeah, that's been extremely frustrating. But I'll give him a little bit of a break on that, as he lost a couple of recruits when they almost shut down the program, which obviously affected that classes numbers.

In regards to overall recruiting, yes I'd say that the level of players (scholarship) in this class is higher than I've seen from a group in a while. Remember, even though we're listing 13 freshmen (or whatever it is), I'm pretty sure at least three of those are walk-ons (Badger, McCoy, Gaudet). So while I wish all three of them the best, the odds are that at least 2 will not be playing here next season, which means you do have a couple more spots in next year's recruiting class if you want. I'm obviously assuming scholarship money is available at that point.

In regards to a name, I heard this bandied around a bit over the last couple of nights, ex-Lowell player, an assistant at a pretty successful D1 hockey program and now with a couple of year's of actual coaching experience ...
Norm Bazin (http://www.hamilton.edu/athletics/mens-ice-hockey/coaches)?

And finally, in regards to Coach MacDonald's contract, the last bit I can find is that according to INCH (http://www.insidecollegehockey.com/5Polls/0708/polls_0621.htm) in Feb of 2008, he signed a 4 year extension, so I'd assume that means he's got one year left after this season is over. The Lowell Sun link in the above (from INCH) is dead.

BTW, Coach is being paid well (http://www.boston.com/sports/colleges/articles/2010/03/09/plenty_of_incentive_for_coaches_to_do_well_at_umas s_amherst/) but not surprisingly, a good amount (15% or so) less on his base pay than the other UMass coach, who also isn't doing all that well.