Saturday, May 06, 2006

Assistant Coaches Resign: Drama Ensues

Stability. It's a state of being that is a necessity for a D-1 program to succeed. Players need it. Fans want it. But instead of that stability, today the UAA program has drama. Assistant Coaches Jack Kowal and Keith Morris were told this week their contracts were not going to be renewed. They did what anyone of us would have done and immediately handed in their resignations. According to their interview with Doyle Woody in todays ADN both Morris and Kowal are completely nonplussed with the way things got handled. Coach Shyiak had nothing to say. As both assistants noted it's reasonable for a Head Coach to have his own staff in place. What Morris and Kowal are bothered by is the delay since the end of the season in informing them of this eventuality. I don't blame them. 52 days after the end of the season? Shitty.

First we hear about John Hill leaving through the Gopher-rumormill. Now Morris and Kowal find about their status via phone calls from other league assistants? What the fuck is that? I'll tell you what the fuck it is. It's the 2nd big PR fuck-up of Dave Shyiak's UAA career. This sort of DRAMA is unacceptable. It seems to me from reading the ADN story that Dr. Cobb admits the fuck up. He said "This situation probably could have been handled better, and I take responsibility for that" and then went on to add "I think they got a little bit of late notice and we did something to offset that". Dr. Cobb didn't say exactly what that "offset" was but it'd be only proper that offset be some sort of decent financial renumeration. This is unfortunately the only positive in this whole public drama.

Jack Kowal and Keith Morris were both excellent 4 year players at UAA. Morris joined the Canadian National team for a season but returned to UAA for his senior year after that hiatus. These guys are both the very definition (no ... the very essence) of what it means to be a Seawolf. They both banged in more than their share of goals for UAA (Morris had 24 one season and Kowal potted 38 during his career). They both took more than their share of licks on the ice. It sucks to see this. They have a right to feel disrespected.

I fully believe that in order to be successful a head coach has to have complete control of all facets of the hockey team. He has to be able to hire his own assistants. It's crucial. Morris and Kowal had a year to show that they were the sort of assistants that Shyiak wants for his program. But in the end it seems they weren't. I'm all good with that. It's Shyiak's ship, he has to steer it. I just wish he'd seen a nearby port to drop off his ex-mates rather than making them walk this public plank.


Anonymous said...

Disrespect. Yup. Down right D-I-R-T-Y.
He does this to his assistants, makes you wonder what happens in the locker room. There was a sense of this coaches character last year in the public forum, that was disrespect as well, for his team...hmmmm, do we see a pattern here, just sayin'

I agree, he has a right to have his own assistants, but his methods really suck, no wonder he can't make any comments! Hope it's not a sign of things to come. Win or lose, I have NO respect for this head coach. He just burned his benefit of the doubt as far as I'm concerned.

To Keith and both will always be winners in my eyes! It's UAA's loss and you will be missed dearly. Good luck to you and your families.


Donald said...

I'm pretty much a "show me" person now. Last year's Seawolves were grossly inconsistent and that sort of thing is easily laid at the coaching staff's doorstep.

So now Shyiak will put his guys in. If we see the same sort of gross inconsistencies in UAA's play next season then are we to say to ourselves that we have to give Shyiak and "his guys" a year to gel? Or was last season the one we're supposed to write off to "coaching change"? I for one wouldn't be happy with the status quo. 6 wins this coming season won't engender any flowering reviews from this keyboard. So "show me" is what I am.

Jack and Keith deserve respect and thanks both as alumni and assistant coaches from all UAA fans. I hope in the end they feel that.

Anonymous said...

Hi DTP! *wave*

Drama, ain't it grand! LOL!

Ummm, I think the clock is running for Shyiak now. You know me, alawys have been and always will be behind the "team", let's just hope they survive the tactics. We need the W's, no doubt about it, the programs survival depends on it. Whatever his motivation is, I guess we're along for the ride.

"Show me" is right!


Goon said...

Yeah that is shitty and unprofessional. Looks like the drama is starting already for this year coming up.

Donald said...

I just hope its the ONLY drama for UAA.

Suze said...

I think Kowal and Morris were lucky to have the one extra year they got. Both knew they were on the bubble, and I doubt if this came as a big surprise to either of them.

I didn't see anyone getting all bent out of shape when Bakula had to move his family back to Europe because Hill let him go. He had a LOT more at stake.

Donald said...

While I support and understand Shyiak's authority (a very necessary authority) to have the sort of assistant that he wants; I also support the notion that respect for these guys should have been paramount.

Let's say you're Shyiak. You know you don't want these guys for your assistants (for whatever reason) but you've also got to worry whether news of their firing/resignation will affect your signings (I have NO doubt that Selby and Clark are Morris recruits since he is from Manitoba); so the fact that you're about to let these guys go is definitely something you don't want be known publicly UNTIL you get the LOIs. Fine. You've got two choices. Tell the assistants at the end of the season that they won't be renewed or wait until all your LOI's to come in to tell them. If you tell them at the end of the season you risk it becoming public and your recruits MIGHT change their mind (unlikely in my mind). Or you wait til the LOIs are all signed and then tell them.

We ended up with the latter and a couple of ex-assistants that are obviously bitter if they talked to a journalist about the whole thing.

The problem here is a total failure to manage the situation properly: A PR problem I suppose you'd call it. It seems to me that Cobb acknowledged that PR failure. If it had been managed better then we wouldn't have two former assistants talking to the newspaper about how it had been handled because they'd feel differently.

I wouldn't say Shyiak is classless or any other negative characterization of that sort; however I would say that he made a mistake. It's not a little one. It's not a huge one. But choosing to do it the way he did was a direct contributor to Morris and Kowal feeling the need to give ADN the interview. If they didn't feel that way then there'd have been a nice smooth transition and no drama.

Some small minded people will blame Morris and Kowal for giving the interview and saying what they did. But the fact of the matter is that they didn't create the situation that resulted in this problem and the resultant feelings they have. Shyiak and Cobb did by not ensuring there was a process in place to avoid this sorts of PUBLIC drama. Likewise people blame Doyle Woody for even writing the story. He didn't create the situation. I noticed you'd said on the board that ADN management didn't care. Of course not ... they're not in the care business. They're in the selling newspapers business as you pointed out. Doyle Woody is no more a part of the story than you and I discussing it here.

And oh yeah ... that's all not directed specifically to you or what you've said. Just me havin my say.

Suze said...

Doyle Woody is NOT a Seawolf supporter. I am not convinced that Morris and Kowal "went running" to him with the story. UAA is open to the press on a weekly basis, and I'm sure it just came out.

Morris gets NO sympathy for me, he told me bold faced lies more than once when I knew otherwise. He is, in my opinion, very arrogant. I know some parents of talented Alaskan hockey players, and they do not like Morris. Kowal has garnered my respect, but you know what, neither of these guys have recruited the type of players that have paid off for UAA.

It seems the world of college hockey is becoming more and more cut throat, like what Hill pulled late in the year. Shyiak wasn't going to let the assistants go unless he had someone to replace them with ... and who's to say that as soon as he had those "someones", he let Kowal and Morris know immediately after? Nobody knows but Shyiak.

People are making a mountain out of a mole hill, this stuff happens all the time in hockey.

I personally am glad to see these guys replaced. I would like to see UAA alumni on the bench, but it they can't "get it done", hire someone who can.

Anonymous said...

hello keith morris is an idiot, who should not coach a purse, he's been fired from every coaching position he's had. how about him selling ice time thats been paid for from a team that "coach morris", is coaching, and morris cancel practices, to hold skills clinics with himself, at the cost of the cancelled teams ice, to benefit keith, as a result keith was fired.

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