Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday Potpourri: Care, Don't Care and Care Less

Tough weekend for the guys.  Friday was a nightmare of a game.  Coach called it weird.  No argument from me there.  Let me apologize here for being careless and forgetting to put up the chatroom on Saturday night.  I know there are more than a few regulars that enjoy it.  It was nothing more than forgetfulness on my part.

I thought the team played well enough on Saturday night.  But once again, they simply seemed unable to score.  I don't know if there is a lot anyone can do about that.  On more than a few occassions I could sense that one player or another wanted more than anything to score a goal.  It seemed that the majority of those scoring chances went high or wide though.  Man, that was tough to watch.  I'm sure it was tougher on the guy who shot it wide.

But overall, they skated well.  They mostly outplayed SCSU in my view.  SCSU's goalie came up with a couple of big saves.  I thought Bryce and Jonny O played about equally as well on each night.  So, unfortunately for those hoping that one or the other would take the reins that doesn't appear to be likely anytime soon.

There's not a lot to analyze about Saturday night apart from the inability to get the puck into the back of the net.  The refereeing was an issue but ultimately the team is going to have to learn to accept that and deal with it.  Shyiak too.  It's useful I suppose to point out that it seems like the WCHA is turning into the Women's Checkless Hockey Association (as our friend Richard has so accurately named it).  But that sort of comment isn't going to make an impact this year.

Maybe it will make someone in charge consider how things are being called in future seasons.  But for now, the zebras have their marching orders and are going to continue to do exactly the same sort of job we've seen them do.  The three penalties UAA got tagged with in the last 8 minutes Saturday were a big problem.  If you ask me, the refs suddenly started calling shit they'd let go for the preceeding 2 1/2 periods.  I liked that even though we were shorthanded for most of that last 8 minutes that we substantially outchanced SCSU.  That was a promising sign.

With the long break now upon us, you can anticipate a couple of things from me in the next week or so.  I'll give a mid-season report card of sorts on each player.  And after that I'll provide a full blown update on all the prospects playing in juniors.  Other than those two things I don't have anything extensive planned.  Of course, if something occurs to me then I'll probably write.  At this point I don't anticipate even doing any of these Sunday Potpourri entries.

It's only halfway through the season.  And while things don't look promising for some of the levels of success we hoped to see, such things aren't necessarily ruled out yet.  Nothing in the WCHA is won before March.  So if they guys can get things hitting on all cylinders then perhaps they can delight us all.

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I care a great deal about the current Seawolves record.  I don't care what the program, staff and/or players have to do to fix it.  I couldn't care less if people that only seem to want to shit on the Seawolves get any opportunity to express themselves here.  So I turned on comment moderation.  Most everyone that comments frequently here are known to me on some level.  I care deeply that those of you who do comment regularly continue to do so.  I don't care if that means fans from other teams never get a chance to do so.  And I couldn't possibly care less what they think about that.  When it comes right down to it, this is MY blog.

I started it because I cared that the local media was doing a shit job of covering the program I follow.  I cared that prospects have some source other than ADN to gauge what sort of program they were considering.  I cared that distantly located families of existing players have an idea of what was going on with their sons/brothers/nephews other than said players saying "It's all good" during their Sunday call home.

I don't care if some other local alleged know-it-all gets a chance to express themselves here.  They can start up a blog, put 4 years of effort into it and build their own readership.  And I couldn't care less if such people think I'm an asshole for having that view.  And believe this, I don't care if I have to stop blogging if that's what it takes to not have to deal with some of the jerk offs that seem to feel they have some sort of right to comment here.  I"m shitty like that.  Don't underestimate the gratification that spite can give someone like me.

I could care less if they think this blog is the United States of America, because it isn't.  It exists as at my whim.  If that means I seem like an arrogant fuck to you, I couldn't care less.  I don't claim and have never claimed to be the end-all, be-all, know-it-all of all things UAA Seawolves Hockey.  But you will get MY honest views about what went on during a game.  You will get MY take.  And yes, MY views/takes will always lean toward the most positive and/or optimistic side of things.  And if you don't appreciate them or agree with them ... well um ... change the channel.

I'm not going to shit on the one program of the one sport that I follow of which I consider myself a fan.  I'm not a fan of the Dallas Cowboys anymore.  I'm not a fan of the NJ Devils anymore.  I'm not a fan of the Houston Astros anymore.  I'm not a fan of Notre Dame or Creighton basketball anymore.  I don't follow or cheer for the Cornhuskers or Texas Tech Red Raiders anymore.  I'm not an MLS fan.  I don't cheer for anyone in the EPL.

I couldn't tell  you who won the Super Bowl last year.  Seriously.  I don't know.  I'm not a sports fan anymore ... I used to be.  But I'm not anymore, because I could care less what a bunch of spoiled overpaid athletes are doing on teams owned by greedy millionaires.  My UAA Seawolves fandom is precious to me.  I care about it deeply because it is the last sport I follow.

So ... comment here.  You're free to express a different viewpoint.  But if it smells to me like your motivated by nothing other than a desire to shit on the program, I'm pretty unlikely to publish it.  Thanks for your attention.  Maybe you couldn't care less.  That's fine too.  Because I don't care that much about whether you care; I'm pretty much an uncompromising prick.

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The propensity for stupidity is exponentially increasing in this country day by day.  The other day I heard an idiot on some radio program (I think it was NPR) explaining how in his early 20's he almost died because his health care didn't cover him properly.  It all went on for quite some time with all these namby pamby liberals patting themselves on the back for their erudite observations.  At the end of the program the host asked about the details of this persons near death experience with health care.  He explained that he had a bad dose of periodontal disease which would have lead to heart attacks and cancer if he hadn't been able to get his insurance to pay for fixing it.  Sigh.

Everywhere I turn it seems that people use their fear as the basis for many of their important decisions. Quit being so fucking scared of everything people.  You're just getting used by others as a result of it.  For example, the fucking Taliban isn't Al-Queda.  They're a bunch of stupid nutbags that want to enforce ridiculous laws within their country.  They made the mistake of letting Al-Queda campout in Afghanistan and paid the price of getting most of their leadership killed because of it.  But if the U.S. left Afghanistan tomorrow we wouldn't be in any more danger from terrorism than we already are.

The attacks of Septermber 11th, 2001 were planned in Germany ... not Afghanistan. Ok? Quit deciding shit based on fear.  It's a crying shame that the alleged purveyor of change didn't have to balls of a real leader and instead just pandered to the fear merchants.  Get the regular Army and Marines out of that shithole and let them be with their families.  Send in the super-secret badass killer assassin ninjas to kill Bin Laden.  That's all you need to do.  A bunch of redneck Alabama boys with shotty's could probably get the job done ya know? Yeah ... that's an oversimplification but ...

The Large Hadron Collider isn't going to create a black hole and suck the Earth into it.  They've been colliding protons into other protons for decades.  Now they're just going to do it at higher speeds.  Ok?  Not a biggee.  Global climate change may cause a crapload of changes over the next 100 years but it isn't going to render life extinct.  We humans are here because we are masters of adaptation.  We'll figure it out.  Sure, quit drinking bottled water, buy an electic car and put some solar panels up.  All good stuff.  But quit fucking running around screaming like a little girl and waving your arms about frenetically.  Start exercising your common sense eh?

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And now for the entertainment portion of our show ...


39 comments:

jjack said...

No secret here, but it's pretty amazing how the figureskatingization of college hockey can hamstring a team built around big stout guys.

kelly. said...

Its time for someone to criticize Shyiak and ask how much more time does he need to turn this program around? There is alot of talent on this team but its Shyiak's job to prepare and motivate those kids to play on Friday and Saturday night. Friday's game was awful, UAA was outskated and outplayed by a team that I thought had an inferior talent level. On Saturday, UAA played well enough to win but just couldn't get the right bounces. The fans deserve a better effort that was put on the ice on Friday night, I don't blame the 6000 people that stayed home that night.

I am also tired of Shyiak pissing and moaning about the officiating and how the WCHA is turning into a women's hockey league. Maybe he has a point, but it doesn't matter. If those are the rules the WCHA is going to enforce and the penalties you know they are going to call, you have to coach up your kids to skate to those rules and play within those boundaries. You know they are going to enforce hits from behind, you know they are going to enforce hits to the head, you know they are going to call penalties on injuries. So you shouldn't be surprised when you end up spending all night in the penalty box because you're not paying attention to how the officials call the games.

I am a very frustrated fan.

Anonymous said...

The majortiy of the penalties we had in the saturday game were tripping and hooking.
These are lazy penalties caused by players not skating.
Discipline is important, we have to develop a strong power play unit, we continue to experiment with rookies on the powerplay and it is killing us.
Clark, lunden, grant, parkinson have played here 3 to four years, why are we experimenting after 18 games with freshman.
These are proven players, let the freshman develop as thes players did.
Please comment if you see something different.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering after 18 games why we still have freshman on the power play units.
We still let up in the third period for some reason.
Any answers from fans out there.

Donald Dunlop said...

Kelly,
There are two clear schools of thought with regard to motivation of players at this level. One believes that they should be self-motivated and on believes that it's part of the coaches job.

I'd have to say I'm in the Rah Rah camp only because I'm a sort of Rah Rah guy. I certainly couldn't argue that young men of college age ought to be able to find a great deal of internal motivation and enthusiasm.

I think the most important factor in the player/coach relationship is that the players have to believe in and buy into what the coach is telling them. A coach must be confident and he must be able to translate that confidence to his players.

From our viewpoint in the stands, I think it's very difficult to assess that factor. I will say that I tend to agree that Dave isn't likely to be some Fire and Brimstone Herb Brooks/Bobby Knight type. But many coaches aren't so and still have success.

I also have to believe that Dave's commentary about the officials is more about long term "propaganda" purposes than it is about getting any near term change. I think if you look around the league you'll find every coach "working" the refs during the games and making somewhat "measured" comments following games.

But, again I do tend to agree that this sort of thing can't become a distraction. If all the players buy into his viewpoint though then it's a good thing. They'll have the mindset that they have to play harder to overcome the bad calls.

I think the key to managing our frustration level is to manage our expectations as fans. I know I've been and expressed a high level of expectation this season. In part, because such a level was essentially "sold" to me via the program. When you hear "most talented" and such then you expect more than previous seasons.

This league is the toughest league. We've seen the team play at or near their best about half of their games. But we've seen them play like shit for the other half. Optimism tells me to say that we're only halfway through the season.

That we can't fully judge the success until the time that matters. Last season I managed to satisfy myself about our 2 playoff losses by telling myself and everyone else that we played toe to toe for 120 minutes with one of the best teams in D1 and could have come away with victories either night. I don't know that I'll be able to rationalize playoff losses that way this season. And I don't think any of us should be satisfied with anything less than getting to the final five.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anons:
1st - I disagree that we let up in the 3rd period. I think we were "all over them" ... "buzzing" etc. But we missed too many shots. I can't overly criticize imperfect execution. But you have to get more of those opportunities on the net. A puck shot wide ain't ever gonna go in.

I agree in general that there is too much Bruijsten and Naslund and Spencer and Gellert on the PP and not enough Portwood, Parkinson, Haddad and Selby. Those last four along with Lunden, Clark, Grant, Tuton, Lafranchise, Hunt, Vidmar, Wiles have been here.

They have all paid their dues and deserve their chance to help make this team more successful. I'll have more to say on that in January, I promise.

Anonymous said...

I watch roe and ryan lasch play every 2nd shift and every powerplay unit. Our juniors and seniors not good enough or is shyiak just ticked off with them.
Last year the juniors were the driving force behind this time.
Yes we lost crowder and robinson,
excellent players.
Our talent base of clark, lunden, grant, hunt and backstom and tuton
were key players last year.
Portwood and haddy and wilie are playing excellent hockey.
These players deserve better, when the first group arrived four years ago, they had to work there butts off to get ice time.
The freshman just showed up and played 1st and 2nd line and powerplay.
The team choose the captain and assistant captains to lead.
These may seem minor issures but your freshman will not take you to the final five.
All the best in the second half.

AKfan said...

I agree with Kelly and am starting to wonder if Shyiak is doing his job of scouting out and preparing for his opponent.

Why does the team always play better on Saturday night, because the coaching staff has seen their opponent on Friday? If so, they are not earning their paychecks.

Justin Bourne wrote an article about the best coach he ever had, Davis Payne, who had his teams SO prepared for each of their opponent, and how the game plan changed depending on who they played.

Shyiak says his game plan never changes. Well, maybe that is part of the problem.

I have no problem signing my name to this post. If Shyiak is going to make me watch the kind of product I have been subjected to on Friday nights (some of the worst hockey in UAA history), then he needs to be called out for it and take some responsibility.

I agree, play the upperclassmen. The freshmen should get playing time, but not to the degree they are getting, and not on the top lines.

Donald Dunlop said...

Any person in any sort of performance based job such as coaching would be well-advised to to look in the mirror during a long break. I think that applies to any and every coach of a team that isn't living up to expectations.

With that being the case, then lets all hope that Dave can find a way to do that during this break and bring this team to it's fullest potential.

Let's also remember that coaching is more Art than Science. And that the dynamics of making good Art aren't as straightforward as those required to make good Science.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I had to look up Bournes article about coaching. It can be found here:

http://www.jtbourne.com/coach/

He had some very interesting things to say, this is what I loved:

"We were prepared with Davis. X’s and O’s-wise, I mean. “Old school coaches” beat up the same tired mantra. It’s about hard work.

Gotta be ready from the drop of the puck! Finish checks! Out-work ‘em down low! Gogogo! …Oh we lost? We got outworked. See you at practice tomorrow.

Davis would still preach hard work, but he prepares his teams too. Before each game, the whiteboard was JAMMED with information. Those crib notes included our opponents most used breakouts, their powerplay breakouts, powerplay setups, who to “key on” (who’s the most frequent PP shooter, stay in his lane), what their penalty kill setup is, goalie’s weakness etc. Then, the list of all of our info… same stuff, other side.

He had it up as soon as we walked in the room, so guys could grab a coffee and study up before he came in and went over it all.

Between periods, he made adjustments. “They switched from a box plus-one on the powerplay to an umbrella, here’s our counter-adjustment…”

And we had the confidence of absolutely knowing we were more prepared than our opponent.

And so you work hard, but you don’t waste energy. You’re in the right spots". In the eight playoff games they chucked me in, I think I had 3 and 2 for 5, but was semi-retarded the first few times I attempted his “layering” d-zone theory. I was used to my college “cover their D” job as a winger, better known as “don’t let Alex Goligoski get the puck”, or the ”don’t ever let Matt Carle shoot” theory.


All I can say is WOW.

Donald Dunlop said...

Here's a link to the Bourne article so nobody has to copy/paste.

Anonymous said...

As a student who receives free tickets, I will most likely no longer be doing so. I am tired of watching the same show year after year. After Saturdays game, when the team did their stick salute to the crowd, it was an absolute embarrassment. Number 6 raised his stick so limply and with an i don't give a damn attitude, why should I as a fan care either? If you hang your head, so will your fans.

I have never been a bandwagon/closet UAA hockey fan. I have been a fan since 1985. However, my relationship with UAA is souring at a rapid rate. Shyiak needs to do something different. He is turning out to be another Talafous-messing with the young KIDS heads, yes, kids. Most of these players will either hang up their skates after UAA or go on and play in the lower divisions of minor league hockey. They need nurturing, molding, and, if they aren't getting the job done, the coach needs to step in and do what he is paid to do-find a way to win. Mind games that are being played will only continue to hinder the teams performance. The defense is lack luster, the penalty kill is abysmal-the box breaks down faster than a 4 year old tears apart a gift on Christmas. They have little discipline, etc etc etc.

Coach Shyiak, man up and start shouldering a lot more of the blame-it is you who ultimately leads this group of young boys as they turn into men. How about stopping with all the fancy shmancy plays and go back to what works-a tough, hard nosed grind it out type hockey. THIS style is what has propelled this team to victories against top ranked teams this season, not fancy setup plays. Goals win games, not pretty passes.

Steve Cobb, it is time to reevaluate the condition of the hockey program. Why is UAA not able to compete on a day in day out basis? Why is there a continued pattern year after year of piss poor hockey? What can/is going to be done to rectify this situation? If your answer to any of these questions is it can't be done, I will call you out on that. UAF is a much smaller school, in a remote part of Alaska, yet, they are perennial top 15 contenders for a while now. Who in their RIGHT (or wrong) mind would chose to play in a place that is routinely -40 plus below zero? How did they go from a similar type situation as UAA and become such a hockey hotbed? I can go on and on, but i will stop at this juncture.

jjack said...

The thing about Shyiak is that he's a relatively inexperienced head coach. I might be totally talking out of my ass on this one, so feel free to tear my little hypothesis apart if it doesn't hold up. Here it is:

Shyiak has not been any better or any worse than the string of mediocre head coaches we've had in recent years. The difference is that he's a relatively young dog. Maybe he can still learn some new tricks. Is there such a thing as "upside" in coaching? Maybe.

The alternative is to can Shyiak. Well, we're not going to hire anyone legendary. Probably more of the same. However, if we hire someone who's been lousy for 15 years he's probably going to be lousy for the rest of his stint here until we run him off and hire another lousy coach. At least with Shyiak we can hope he's still developing as a coach.

Also, I can't really argue this point for bad penalties. The hooking and tripping are dumb penalties no matter who you are. But I still think it's a big disadvantage that Shyiak spent the past 4 years building a squad of big burly Alberta lumberjacks and then all of a sudden the league changes the style of play to favor the figure skaters. OK, so he has to adjust. The only problem is that with the recruiting cycle it'll take years to reshape the team to fit the new style of WCHA play.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon Student:
You exaggerate UAF's success greatly. For most of the last few years KRACH would tell you that 8th or 9th place in the WCHA is roughly equivalent to 4th or 5th place in the CCHA.

Also with regard to UAF ... when is the last time they beat UAA?

I've said it here many many times but if a fan only measures his teams success by their placement in the WCHA table then they're making a foolish mistake.

I'm not going to go look it up and all but UAA has finished in the upper 50% of D1 in virtually any year that I ever looked. Stats and Standings don't tell the whole story. One MUST look beyond those things to gauge success. That is difficult to do. We assume stats and standing to be objective measurements. But with the high insularity of the WCHA oppressive 28 game schedule the only objectivity is within the league.

Yes. We finished low in the WCHA for too many seasons. No doubt about it. But taking last year as an example (because it is a really really good example) the Seawolves were only 6 points (that's 3 games won) out of a home ice playoff game. The margin between success and failure in the WCHA is razor fucking thin.

This must be a consideration in this discussion. Absolutely MUST be.

I gave up on this program during Talafous' last season. I didn't go to the games. I was wrong to do so. Here's why:

The athletes that comprise our favorite team are amateurs that are trading the on-ice abilities for a portion of their education expenses. The NCAA allows 18 schollies and as should be obvious there are many more players on the squad than 18. That means some of these guys aren't getting much financial support at all.

There is an ethos at the highest level of amateur competition (the Olympics ... and yes ... in many aspects the Olympics isn't amateur anymore) which states that the competition at that level is more important than the winning. I believe that.

We are privileged to watch the league with the highest caliber amateur hockey players in the world. Yes. The world. No league surpasses the WCHA for it's overall talent. Anywhere. Many former players and other WCHA advocates claim the level of play is on par with the AHL. I don't know if I could justify such a comparison but it is regularly asserted to be so by people that know the game better than I.

So with that being the case, I think it is incumbent upon UAA fans to have somewhat of a dual view with regard to our team and it's potential for success. Yes.... we absolutely want them to win. But the other side of that coin is to be proud of them for competing well at this level. And we should show that pride with our attendance and support.

None of that means discussion of what's "wrong" isn't fair. It absolutely is. That's a part of being a fan. Let's just not get too caught up in comparisons without fully knowing what those comparisons truly represent.

Donald Dunlop said...

jjack:
I believe you've hit a nail on the head. Down the line if we are faced with a choice about coaching ... do we stick with the one we've got and find ways to allow him to evolve (as should have been done with Brush) or do we act in a reactionary way and hope that we find someone who has a golden touch.

I think one can look at the volleyball team for an example. 2nd year coach Chris Green appears to be a STUD amongst coaches. He had some decent success his 1st year and continued that this season. And it can be argued that he did so with exactly the same caliber of player that previous coaches had at their disposal.

He a natural. An artist if you will. And since as I asserted earlier that coaching is more Art than Science then I think it isn't unreasonable to think that allowing Shyiak time to "develop" might indeed be a better option than finding a "stud". Because, I can guarantee that Chris Green isn't going to be UAA's Volleyball coach 5 years from now. Without a doubt he'll move onto bigger and better things. Everyone in the WCHA seems to slather on about Dean Blais and what he did at UND. But he left for greener pastures didn't he? Donnie Lucia did some nice work at UAF then moved to CC and revived them almost miraculously but where did he go? There is a price to pay IF you can find a stud coach. Because every stud is going to be ambitious.

All:
I absolutely believe that it is time for Dave Shyiak to start proving himself in some way. Measuring that is a difficult process ... unless one is a reactionary type fan. For those folks it's a simple matter of calling for his head and trying to find a stud. I think such calls for a head to roll aren't carefully considered.

Let's all remember that Talafous got the boot primarily because virtually the whole team went to Cobb in revolt. Dave doesn't appear to be making similar mistakes. I wouldn't call him a "my way or the highway" kind of guy. We can speculate that he might not be flexible enough in his approach. I've got no beef with that suggestion. Maybe he should be more Rah Rah. Maybe he should take a page out of Davis Payne's preparation book. I don't know. But hopefully, Dave is self-reflective enough to look at these things and make adjustments.

I've tried to be consistent in saying that we can't fairly judge him until after next season. I certainly feel a tug to evaulate him after this season. But I'm not going to. And of course, I hope others in the fanbase will give him until the end of the 2012 season before calling for his head. And even then if we haven't had any more success than we've seen throughout his tenure, I'm not sure I'll be aligned with them.

akhockeyfanatic said...

Bottom line - UAA is our college hockey team. A TRUE FAN will support a team through good times or bad. Yes, it's frustrating to see them lose and yes its tiring to see them near the bottom of the rankings. But winning or losing, it's still great hockey. Clark, Parkinson, Haddad,Grant, Wiles, Tuton, Hunt...the list goes on. What talent these guys have! I am proud to support this team whether they win or lose. Those of you who have given up on the team or the coaching - just go away. Your presence is not needed here or at the Sully.

The team will regroup and start winning after the holiday break. 2010 will be a turning point.

Anonymous said...

I consider myself a true fan of 20 years, but how much longer do we give Shyiak? I don't think it's working. There are moments of hope and positive nuggets here and there, but lately there is too many, way too many embarrassing performances that drive away even more people. I think change is needed. Unless we have an absolutely stellar record after the break, I for one say Goodbye Dave.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon@1249:
And then what? Who do you hire? The problem is that there isn't exactly a plethora of qualified candidates out there. And what qualified candidates there are won't exactly be lining up for one of the most difficult coaching jobs in college hockey.

There are more challenges in recruiting and competing from Alaska than pretty much any school you could name. And how long does the next coach get? Think the fact that there's been a high turnover since Brush was forced out would keep a good candidate who might be looking for some stability from appying?

And what happens when you find a "stud" coach and he goes to some big name program after a 4 year turnaround here? Who do you get then? Think "stud" coaches are easy to find?

UAA is a state school who's hockey program USED to fund a lot of the other sports at the school. Think that's still happening with 2500 people showing up? It's not like they have 200K to throw at some established coach to lure him away from whatever D1 program he is coaching. And since that is the case, the only candidates you're going to find ALL come with risk that they won't do any better than any of the 4 coaches we've had during our time in the WCHA.

Shyiak's record is no worse than Hill, Talafous or Brush ... it is essentially the same.

I write this long freaking justification for giving the guy until after his 6th year (a common landmark for coaches in college sports) and the very next comment just basically says get rid of him unless he rocks the world in the 2nd half.

I guess you didn't read the parts where I talked about what college sports is and why I think fans should support their team?

I almost didn't allow your comment. But I did so in hopes that you will respond to what I've said here with something substantive. Answer the questions I've asked. You're asserting that he should be gone. Tell us what you think would happen after he's gone?

Anonymous said...

"Shyiak's record is no worse than Hill, Talafous or Brush ... it is essentially the same."

So essentially we are now supposed to accept these kind of results? And the fans are supposed to continue to come and watch?

I say we find some assistant of a program that is highly successful. Most of these assistants do the recruiting so they know the territory.

Shyiaks record is unacceptable. With us basically being hardly competitive on Friday nights and not showing any consistency it's hard to justify keeping this guy.

Most folks in Anchorage want to see the Seawolves win, but few are willing to shell out the $$$ to continue to go to a game to see the same results year after year. Can you blame them?

Anonymous said...

There is lots of talent on this time, let the players heal up there injuries over the holiday season. The second and most important part of the season starts in January/2010.
Clark had a tremendous second half last year, all the seniors and juniors will have something to prove in the second half.
Win 50 % of your games and a playoff spot and no one will remember the 1 st half.
To all the fans merry xmas and a happy new year.
fan

Suze said...

Donald, I love this program and the players, and will support it win or lose, as I have for 20 years. But the attendance issue is killing me.

UAA needs to be more aggressive in going after local talent, too many Anchorage kids are choosing Fairbanks.

You said "Shyiak's record is no worse than Hill, Talafous or Brush ... it is essentially the same".

I disagree. Brush had a 6th place team, his overall record was over 500 with a .603. Tally had a 6th & 7th place team. Hill 6th and 7th and a final five appearance. The best Shyiak has done in 5 years is 9th.

I disagree that Shyiak is an inexperienced coach. He had 10 years of being an asst. coach, three of those as an assistant head coach. He has had 15 years of experience in coaching at the DI level! Either he has what it takes or he doesn't, IMO. Having said that, I do think this program is too fragile right now to institute another coaching change.

As far as squarebanks goes, they have yet to play a ranked team for league points. UAA has played three highly ranked teams and has split with all of them. Most of UA_'s games have been at home, with not nearly as much success on the road. Western beat and tied them this past weekend, and they are the last placed team in the CCHA, coming into the series with ONE win under their belt. The polls are meaningless.

My beef is with UAA, they do not appear to be promoting this team in a tangible way. You have to spend money to make money, and at one point UAA hockey paid for every other sport at the University! Let's see an ad or two in the paper, a commercial about the weekend promotions on TV. Are you going to wait until there are 500 fans in the stands before you DO something?

To say I am very frustrated is a huge understatement.

-30- said...

Yes, this team needs to find a way to win. Look at last weekend. They held St CLoud to three shots in periods 2 and 3 of game one. Game two they were the better team, but still they found a way to lose. The third was theirs, they had the momentum when Parky's line hemmed St Cloud in with a great shift, but the Wolves couldn't bury it on the powerplay, and then the refs took over. Yeah, you have to play though that shit, but the stipes spoiled a good period of hockey. (That's one way to keep the fans away.) Watching those last couple dives and no call for embellishing was difficult to say the least. Merry Xmas. Don't fire anyone quite yet.

Anonymous said...

The last 5 minutes of the game, 3 hooking penalties, gellert, wiles, and spencer.
I have watched this team for the last 4 years.
Who would you put out in the last 5 minutes of the game to tie it up.
2 Freshman or your seniors and juniors.
I have seen this all year.
Does shyiak really want to win.

Never quite sure what he does in the third period.
All freshman get penalties under pressure.

Donald Dunlop said...

Suze:
There is no "disagreeing" with the FACT that Shyiak, Talafous, Hill and Brush have essentially the same records at UAA. What "place" one coach or another finished in isn't relevant when you compare overall records.

And exactly what Anchorage kid that plays for UAF do you covet? There are none that could be considered "losses" in my book. The Molle's? Cody Butcher? Thompson? That's it ... that's the only 4.

Sure, I'd like to get the cream of the Anchorage talent. But so would DU and CC and ... The program has also ALWAYS lost a great deal of those types of players to those types of schools. There is a long history of that before Shyiak got here.

Lastly, the difference between being a head coach and an assistant or "associate head" coach is big. In neither of those causes is one responsible for everything. So Shyiak is (as I said) relatively new to head coaching.

I don't have a problem with anyone's opinion that they don't want Shyiak. But I"m sorry to say, the reasons you are stating here don't hold water.

As to "marketing" ... that has nothing to do with Shyiak. Does it need to be addressed? Sure. But I'm not going to get into that long conversation in this comment string since it's been all "dump Shyiak" focused. I have no idea anyway how it should be solved. I don't know if placing/buying ads in newspaper and TV would put more people in the seats.

You recently suggested the idea that they don't allow anyone in the balcony until the lower section is full. That deserves some exploration.

And any level of fragility in the program has nothing to do with why I say that now isn't the time to explore coaching options. 6 years is THE recognized STANDARD for evaluating NCAA coaches. Doing so anytime before that period is over is just unfair to the person doing the job.

Note here ... that I strongly believe that calling the program "fragile" in any way is incorrect and more than anything else, I think it's an unwise characterization. The only thing that is fragile are UAA fans sensibilities with regard to the program.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon@240:
Don't be disingenuous. I didn't say that we should settle for those results. Don't put words into my mouth to attempt to advance your argument. That's called a "strawman".

I made a clear case that the 3 previous coaches had no more success than the current one. It wasn't a defense of Shyiak's record but a caution about replacing him.

And now there are enough undifferentiated "anon" comments for me to be unsure if I'm addressing the same anon or a different anon. If you want to continue to discuss this with me then you'll need to differentiate yourself somehow because I'm through answering anyone in this string that doesn't give themselves some identifying mark. Call yourself "X" or "Y" ... I don't care. Just give me some sort of indication so I know if I'm addressing the same person or a different one. Otherwise, publishing of anons will face more scrupulous moderation.

Suze said...

Donald, I just heard that UAA failed to recruit a local player from the national development program, in favor of UAF. Any player that is talented enough to be at that level is a player we want.

I am not advocating a coaching change yet, but the program needs to be looked at long and hard, and the coaching staff better use this break to rethink the first half.

Donald Dunlop said...

Suze,
USNDT affiliation is not the end-all be-all of measurements of future performance. Most Alaska kids only get a shot to play for it because no Minnesota kids EVER play for it. And plenty of other good kids from other places don't get into it either.

Sure, it's a nice accomplishment. But it doesn't mean anything. Billy Smith played for the USNDT.

Suze said...

To the poster who said: "As a student who receives free tickets, I will most likely no longer be doing so".

Please, commit yourself to going to the games the second half of the season. Derek Donald is working hard on some promotions just to get the butts in the seats, and what they are planning for the UA_ game sounds like fun.

#6 is a freshman, I'm sure he was bummed at being swept, and also a little disillusioned by the number of fans in the stands. He'll learn.

This team deserves our support, they are not getting paid like the pros, they are student athletes - lets give them our support. Bring friends to the games with you, the student section is a joke! I guarantee if the atmosphere improved the team would as well, it's a two way street.

This break comes at a good time. I hope the players get some quality time with family and friends, and come back raring to go like they did last year.

Anonymous said...

"Dejected Student Fan"

Suze, Why does this team deserve my support? 25+years of support isn't enough? Even given free tix, having to suffer through the terrible post period carnival events, and now, players who don't really give a damn, can you give me a single pertinent reason to come and watch a team that is inconsistent on a GOOD night? Yes they have beat several top 5 ranked opponents, but that is far from par for the course.

Yes, they are student athletes, yes most are getting paid-think scholarships, in accepting a scholarship, aren't they offering their services in exchange for an education? In doing so, aren't they signing up to do their best night in, night out? I realize the UAA hockey team is a bunch of kids, no problem there, but when the kids throw in the towel, much like their coach, why shouldn't I? When something isn't fun anymore and you spend most of the game talking about what once was, what should be done and why can't they just turn the corner once and for all vs. being happy and content, how is this benefiting the team or me?

Anonymous said...

Why can't we get a stud coach if Shyiak isn't doing the job? Blais was willing to come here...Cobb nixed the idea. D-1 College football and basketball coaches move all the time. Find a great coach near the end of his current contract (or even not), offer him a salary that kicks ass, and let him decide. Not all coaching compensation has to be UA approved. I'm not talking "under the table", just a matter of going to the big sponsors and finding ways...can Cobb do that? Endorsements, camps and other marketing stuff.
And speaking of Cobb, whatever happened to out new hockey arena? You know, the one over on university land with the "village" feel with shops and such. We've seen all the mock-ups. Oh yeah, Sarah vetoed some planning money. OK, I guess we'll just give up. Our D-2 basketball means so much more than our D 1 flagship sport.
Did you enjoy that 6 team Shootout this year?
EVERY other WCHA school has better facilities for practice, lockerrooms, game-day, even Mich Tech. Yeah, I wonder why Anc kids want to go elsewhere. Hell, the atmosphere at the Carlson Center kicks ass on the Sully.
Wow, I;m on a roll. Lots of frustration coming out.

Donald Dunlop said...

Dejected:
Click here for reasons why and read the whole diatribe. Don't scan over it.

Or go up to the little search box on the top left side of this blog and type in "fandom" and read several of the things I think "being a fan" is all about.

Or read some of what I've put in this comment string.

And if none of that does it for you. Then start following the Yankees.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon@1058:
Why can't we get a stud coach if Shyiak isn't doing the job? Blais was willing to come here...Cobb nixed the idea.
Wrong. When Shyiak was hired Dean Blais was coaching in the NHL. Personally, I wouldn't want the guy anyway for a variety of reasons that don't matter in the context of refuting your assertion. Cobb didn't nix anything like that. And who's judgement do we use as to who this next "stud" actually is? Do you think that's an easy call to make? I'm sure the folks at Notre Dame figured Charlie Weis was a "stud" when they hired him. I remember this guy that UAA hired who said it was his "dream job" to coach hockey at UAA then he threw the program under the bus as he lied his way back to be some "stud's" shoeshine boy.

And speaking of Cobb, whatever happened to out new hockey arena? You know, the one over on university land with the "village" feel with shops and such. We've seen all the mock-ups. Oh yeah, Sarah vetoed some planning money. OK, I guess we'll just give up. Our D-2 basketball means so much more than our D 1 flagship sport.
More bogus assertions. Cobb fought for the Arena. He (and others) got the measure introduced in the legislature and it (as you correctly point out) it was vetoed by idiot bitch. Is that supposed to be the program's fault or something? Get real. Cobb attends virtually every single UAA hockey game. Do you think he gets to every basketball game? I doubt it. And if you weren't talking out of the side of your ass you'd realize exactly why there were only 6 teams in this year's shootout. Again, it had nothing to do with UAA but instead it was a victim of it's own success when the NCAA expanded the rules regarding such pre-season tournaments and suddenly there were tournaments just like the shootout everywhere. Don't be ignorant.

EVERY other WCHA school has better facilities for practice, lockerrooms, game-day, even Mich Tech. Yeah, I wonder why Anc kids want to go elsewhere. Hell, the atmosphere at the Carlson Center kicks ass on the Sully.
The addition of the future sports complex across the street will greatly enhance UAA's practice facilities since hockey will essentially have the entire Wells Fargo center to itself. Is it the program's fault that tight fisted assholes won't bust a chunk off of the 36 BILLION dollar surplus that this state has at it's disposal? No. It's your fault. Why aren't you on your legislators ASS demanding that he/she start supporting higher education in this state? Well? The Carlson kicks ass? Joke of the day? That place has a sound killing acoustic signature. It wouldn't be loud in there is Blue Oyster Cult was playing. Why do lots of people go watch UAF? Because there isn't another fucking thing to do in that town. Is that the UAA program's fault too?

All:
This sort of unthinking, emotionally based comment won't make it into this comment string after this. It is exactly the sort of reactionary emotional unreasoned thing I've mentioned above. I'm really not sure why I bother writing anything if people aren't going to actually read what I've said.

This is a conversation people. And from now on it won't be just you scanning over what I've said waiting for your chance to speak. Read what I've written. Consider it using your brains and respond with reasoned comments. Otherwise, don't bother.

akmillers said...

Donald, I have to be honest and say your rants occasionally piss me off bit but i do enjoy your blog and appreciate your dedication to this hockey program. Since moving here in 94, I've gradually added green to the maroon and gold flowing through my veins. (Why do I feel I'm walking on egg shells posting to your blog... hope this comment doesn't get me banned :)

I buy into your 6 yr strategy for Shyak. My only question is, after six years.. how are we going to measure success: Home playoff series, final five appearance, 4500 fans in the stands, avg more fans than the Aces? Over the next two years, it's hard to believe the Win/Loss column is going to change significantly from previous coaches, when do we say thanks Dave you've done us well but we're going to take a chance on someone else?

I've heard some say we need to compete in a different league in order to provide the wins that ultimately mean $ for the program. We all know money talks. I'd sure hate to see this program compete in anything other than the WCHA. The level of competition is amazing and I hope Anchorage realizes what we have is special. However, sometimes I sense that Hill may have been on to something when he said that the school isn't committed to competing in the WCHA.

Anyways...keep up the good work. Thanks for putting up the friday/saturday promos on your site. I'm posting them at work and at my kids school. I challenge all of the readers of this blog to get off your butt and start promoting Seawolves hockey in the community! If the school won't do it, let's do it for them.

Cheers,

Donald Dunlop said...

Millers:
How exactly to measure his performance at the end of the six years is a very good question. I guess it's just a matter of defining the "metrics".

For example ... As I've asserted time and time again here ... if you just say to yourself, "Oh they finished 9th last year ..." then you're doing a great disservice to their accomplishments. So the "metrics" will need to be carefully and fairly defined. I haven't given it extended thought but I promise I will. I'll solicit input from readers as well when the time comes.

John Hill's words on his way out of here should be virtually disregarded. I can refute basically everything he said on a sentence by sentence basis and have done so in the past.

But you do mention his biggest lie. He used that along with the assertion that his assistants were underpaid. So I have to ask ...

Then why didn't he negotiate a deal for them when he was getting his 2nd contract? Was he not concerned about the "program's commitment" to hockey just 9 months before he bailed? He could have addressed that with Cobb at that time. Cobb was so supportive of Hill that he gave him a new contract 2 years before his first one was due to expire. And Hill bailed at the first chance to go back and shine tDon's shoes.

I'd say that Cobb was badly mistaken to pay the assistant coaches the way he was. But he rectified that immediately. He has personally told me that it was a structure that had been in place for a long time and was similar to other schools when it was adopted. It was an oversight that UAA didn't adjust the pay structure when other schools had moved away from the model.

Don't be intimidated by me. I use language forcefully because I'm an advocate for language in general and I believe it is important to choose my words for clarity and effect. I try to never say anything that I can't back up without making it clear that it's a guess. I just take the art of written communication seriously.

Suze said...

Sure this team could show some more heart, so could Shyiak. But they are paying for the past 18 years of having a losing record ... the fans didn't all leave over night. And that's not fair to this seasons team!

You get in free? We pony up $1000 in booster donations every year, and I am not ready to throw in the towel, because I believe in this team and what they are capable of accomplishing. If you don't, I feel sorry for you.

As the other poster mentioned, get out there and put up the flyers around town in your area. I have them on bulletin boards and store fronts in Eagle River, but I never thought of the schools! Great idea. Spread the word, get friends to the arena, we ALL need to do our part!

As to the kids getting "paid" via scholarships, very few of them are on a full ride, there aren't enough schollys to go around. Most are paying some, some are paying all.

Mr. Suze (Bob) said...

Okay Donald,

Let's use our "brains" and see if we can come up with a scenario that this team, as it is, will eventually pull out of it's 18 year death spiral.

Weather you would like to admit it or not, and weather you can see it or not, a lot of us can. The program is dying, much to our chagrin.

Just pointing at the attendance over the last weekend, I don't think there were enough people there to cover the rent of the Sullivan Arena. And the numbers are not going up, they have steadily gone down.

Will a new sports facility even be built? The state isn't going to pony up any money if the Regents themselves don't support this venture. It's not our legislature, they are going by what the Regents tell them the U's needs are.

Again, I agree with the previous poster. If I were a hockey player, based on what I am seeing from the program and the history, I would want to play in a nice area full of fans. UAA simply cannot compete for the best players in the league right now.

I'm sorry Donald, but I agree with the previous posters, and I am sorry you can't see this. If UAA doesn't come up with ways to get fans into the arena, they might as well turn the lights out.

I have supported this team for 20 years, and was negative with the Tally years. I was negative when Hill deserted his alma mater. I am trying very hard not to be negative now, but I am trying to be realistic.

I am not proposing a coaching change, because any coach who comes in here right now will have his hands tied, and he will be starting out behind the 8 ball.

I never post on here and I might never do so again, but there it is. And I said it without any cuss words.

Donald Dunlop said...

Bob,
I think you begin with a false premise. There is no "death spiral". Certainly, there were some low attendance figures the last couple of games. And I'll grant over the last several years that attendance has declined.

I don't think it's a good thing. There's no arguing that the if the numbers were higher that things on "the bottom line" would look better. But consider this ... every time I've looked at attendance totals across the Division 1 landscape, I see that UAA has higher attendance than easily 60% of the other 58 teams playing.

If attendance were an indicator of death spirals then I'd have to assume that 60% of D1 teams are struggling? Most of those schools have basically the exact same overhead (other than travel) as UAA. But they aren't in a death spiral. Why?

Because this isn't professional sports. Their schools are committed to athletics for their students and fund the programs because they see athletics as an important adjunct to higher education. More than a few of them have to rent practice ice.

The advantage that UAA has over most of those other schools is two fold. The big one is that it shares WCHA revenues. All 10 schools in the WCHA get an equal share of the Final Five pie and the playoff games. Last year's cut from just the Final Five was greater than 100,000 bucks. Combine that with the share of all 5 playoff series and you've got a chunk of change that easily supports the program. Whatever attendance regular season games gets is essentially gravy on top. So just being a part of the WCHA absolutely assures financial viability.

The 2nd smaller advantage that UAA has over some schools (a smaller percentage) is that it's a state funded school. CC and DU have a much greater vulnerability to attendance issues than does UAA. But even if nobody showed up at their rinks they'd continue to be viable because of the WCHA revenue sharing.

So ... I have to take exception to the "death spiral" claim. The program is not "dying". Support for it may be dying. But that in no way shape or form equates to the program dying. Nobody shows up to watch Cross Country running. Few show up to watch Gymnastics. Think anyone shows up to watch UAF Riflery?

Collegiate athletics isn't about making money. Where and when athletic programs can make money they certainly take advantage of it. But that isn't the usual primary goal ... (excepting BCS schools and all the schools trying to get in on the D1 basketball playoff frenzy). In collegiate hockey there are at most 20 programs that turn a profit on their regular seasons.

You may think they might as well turn out the lights but I guarantee you one thing. UAA Hockey will be here (regardless of attendance) long after the Aces have moved on or folded. Now I'm not saying that is the Aces future. But since they are beholden to a bottom line that UAA isn't they're much more susceptible to those profit/loss factors than UAA.

Do not conflate D1 sports with professional sports. The more important reason to get butts in the seats is for the players. Not for the bottom line.

Now with all that ... is losing acceptable in any sense? Fuck no it isn't. We should be in this to win this. But nothing is won in October, November, December, January or February. What you do in March is what matters.

Continued below ... LOL ... Bob .. Answering you is the first time I've exceeded the 4,096 character limit of the comments section! ;-)

Donald Dunlop said...

...continued to Bob,
A parent of a player called me yesterday. Aside from the gracious thank you's that he gave me for the blog, he wanted to emphasize to folks how lucky they were to be seeing WCHA hockey every weekend. He was exceptionally proud that his son was competing in this league. Why?

Because as I've said here before ... the WCHA is the pinnacle of amateur hockey in the world. You cannot go anywhere and see unpaid hockey players of the caliber we see every weekend. While this current UAA player's former friends are now Sandwich Artists at Subway, he is playing hockey every weekend against 1st and 2nd round NHL draft picks and competing well at it. His pride was evident and he expressed how proud his son is to be playing at UAA.

Should we be doing better? Yes. Can we do better? I think so. Is the program going to fail if we don't do better? No. Does the administration want to do better? Of course they do. They aren't "in it to lose".

Lastly, if you'd allow me to be a bit presumptuous here. I think you're frustrated because you love the program so much and really want it to succeed. I think that's a good thing and people in the program when they sense frustration from the fans ought to take that as a sign of how much people care. And in that, they can and should find some motivation for doing better.

jennipher said...

Well now, I'm just going to leave a nice short comment. Good blog, very interesting! And the video was a nice touch. Talk about an ice wedgie.
Have A Merry Christmas Everyone and Go Seawolves!

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