Monday, July 13, 2009

Joining the Twitter World

I decided that I would use a Twitter page to more easily get the word out on things related to Gopher hockey (or on other topics such as HS hockey). I figure I will use this blog for the occasional in depth commentary but use Twitter for the (obviously) more brief updates of note.

As you can see, I haven't updated the blog much over the past six months (not that a ton has gone on in Gopher hockey in that time) and a lot of it is job demands. Not that I am complaining... I am happy to have a good job given the economic wreckage we have dealt with in the last year. But it (and other life stuff) doesn't leave a lot of energy to spend time on a part time "job" of blogging. Since I hear quite a few things that I don't post on here (or elsewhere), I figure Twitter is a good avenue for that stuff. As I said... anything in need of greater depth will still be posted on here. But using Twitter makes life easier for me. Hopefully you will like it. You can find the link at the right.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Pops" is back

U of M press release:

Potulny Returns to Gophers as Volunteer Assistant‏

Having captained two Minnesota teams to national championships, Grant Potulny will return to the Gopher men’s hockey team this fall as a volunteer assistant coach.

Potulny has been playing professionally since his career with the Gophers that spanned from 2000-04. He was an assistant captain as a sophomore for Minnesota’s 2002 national championship team and then captained the team the following two years, including the Gophers’ 2003 national title squad.

“Grant was one of the best captains I’ve ever had,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia, who recently completed his 22nd year as a collegiate head coach. “Grant is going to be a great addition to our staff. He’s going to be in a position to be with us at every practice and his insights will be very positive for our program.”

Potulny recently retired from pro hockey after battling injuries throughout his career. He was injured most of this past season, which he spent with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate in Norfolk (Va.).

“This is an unbelievable opportunity and I’m so grateful to be back with the Gopher hockey program,” Potulny said. “It’s an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up and it’s a great chance to learn from three of the best coaches in college hockey.”

Potulny will join Gophers’ full-time assistants John Hill and Mike Hastings on Lucia’s staff. Potulny plans to pursue a career in coaching and believes the experience at Minnesota will be a perfect first step.

“A goal of mine is to be in coaching and what a better way to learn,” Potulny said. “A lot of this position is going to be bouncing things off players and working that through the coaching staff. You’re a coach, but you’re also someone who’s been in their shoes. I’m also excited because I’ve already built relationships with several of the current players through working out with them during the summers, so it should be a smooth transition.”

Potulny played in 146 games for the Gophers, totaling 68 goals and 48 assists for 116 points. He is best-known for scoring the overtime game-winning goal in Minnesota’s 4-3 win over Maine in the 2002 national championship game at the Xcel Energy Center.

Potulny competed three full seasons with the Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate in Binghamton (N.Y.) from 2004-07 before spending one season each with the Washington Capitals’ affiliate in Hershey (Pa.) and the Edmonton Oilers’ affiliate in Springfield (Mass.).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Unnamed former Gopher creates a stir

If you go to this WCCO news report, you'll find that there is some political talk about creating a law that prevents state money from being used by Minnesota schools to provide athletic scholarships to non-American student athletes. Apparently this stemmed from a former Gopher player speaking up to his local representatives on the topic.

Of course, the immediate reaction from fans of other teams falls back on the weak Gopher conspiracy stuff. Obviously if this became a law, it would damage schools like UMD and SCSU as they have recruited a decent percentage of foreign players over the years. The reality is one former player does not represent the opinion of the program or its fan following. Let's remember, one of the greatest Gophers of recent memory was an Austrian... do we really want to pass up on the occasional star from another country just because a small percentage of people are overly provincial?

My guess is this ex-player is one of those old school types that doesn't like seeing Minnesota kids not get most/all of the opportunities to play in their home state. He doesn't like seeing kids have to leave home because some Canuck comes into town to "steal" opportunities. These are the same types of guys that whine any time the Gophers bring in an out of state kid.

On one hand, I do think some schools could do a better job of bringing in Minnesota kids and not going north of the border as often as they do. At the same time, the time to be provincial like this is long gone. We don't need a law like this. Minnesota kids don't have to rely on in-state schools to "bail" them out any more because nobody else will give them a chance. These aren't the days of John Mariucci where Minnesotans (or Americans in general) were constantly getting the shaft as certain college programs favored older Canadians all the time. Minnesota kids are all over the hockey landscape these days and, at last look, filled up more roster spots across college hockey than just about any state/province. The opportunities for MN kids are plentiful.

These old school types need to "get over it" and recognize the world has changed. I also think that fans of the other in-state programs need to grasp the reality that the Gopher program and most of the fans don't agree with the attitude of these old school attitudes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

2009 MN Mr. Hockey

Congrats to future Gopher Nick Leddy on being awarded the 2009 Minnesota Mr. Hockey award. Well deserved and a nice way to wrap up a great season.

Of course, as there is any year (especially whenever a Gopher recruit wins the award), there is a certain amount of whining that goes on from some fans of a few other candidates.

For instance there is always the whining about Gopher bias to the award. Of course, this talk neglects a few facts. First, the Gophers have no more votes in the process than any of the other D1 programs in Minnesota. Second, out of the last nine winners, five of the winners were committed to a school OTHER THAN the Gophers (Ryan McDonagh, Brian Lee, Tom Gorowsky, Nate Dey, and Marty Sertich). I guess during those years, the conspiracy memo didn't make it around to the voters.

The other thing I would mention is I saw some commentary by one individual that discussed who was doing the voting. To paraphrase, the remark was essentially that "high school and media should vote. Not college coaches or pro scouts." The problem with this logic is that the award would be voted on in a less educated manner if this was how it was done.

How often do you think most HS coaches outside of the St. Cloud part of the state see Little Falls HS games? How about HS coaches from NW MN seeing Eden Prairie games? How about a coach from Rochester seeing Duluth East games? They would see these candidates VERY seldom.

HS coaches are going to (mostly) be limited to what they see in their own conference/area since they are hardly going to be traveling around the state to watch other teams/players during the season. They don't have the time or opportunity to scout a ton of players unless it is a team they will be playing in the near future. There is no way that HS coaches are going to have a fair idea of the other candidates that do not reside in their own area.

If anything, the HS coaching vote would probably be more biased toward metro area candidates since most metro coaches see a wider variety of HS teams than your typical outstate coach because the density of teams is much better in the Twin Cities.

Same thing goes for media. How many media people from Duluth do you think make it down to specifically watch a Twin Cities player like Nick Leddy? Or how about a Minneapolis area media person going to Little Falls to watch Ben Hanowski? Once again, VERY seldom. Much as it is with HS coaches, the media tend to be limited to their local vicinity when it comes to getting out and watching potential candidates. Not to mention, the media are the least educated about the game when it comes down to it. If anybody ought to be taken out of the equation for Mr. Hockey, I would pick the media.

At least with how it is currently voted on, the majority of the votes are cast by people that do get out and see the various candidates on more than one occasion. D1 coaches and pro scouts see these kids numerous times throughout the year because it is their job to scout these players (or other players in the same game). If anything, these are exactly the people that should vote on such an award because they can actually cast a vote with the knowledge that they have seen the candidates often enough to have a valid opinion.

The ironic thing about this year is that if it wasn't for a football injury, there very likely wouldn't even be a debate to be had as Zach Budish would have walked away with this award.

In any case, congrats Nick. It will be great to see you at the U of M next fall.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Haula reportedly commits to the Gophers

Word through the grapevine has it that Shattuck St. Mary's junior forward Erik Haula has committed to the Gophers. Haula hails from Finland and has a scoring line of 22 goals, 49 assists, for 71 points thus far with Shattuck this year. In the midterm NHL rankings, Haula was rated at #55 overall in North America and he has often been discussed as a potential first round pick in the next draft.