Face Off: Week 5

Welcome to U.S. College Hockey Online’s roundtable discussion. We’ll be debating a college hockey topic each week in this space, where various members of our staff meet to argue. Sometimes serious, sometimes silly — but either way, watch the feathers fly: no punches will be pulled, and no quarter given, when these people face off.

Which USCHO Staffer Would Make the Best College Hockey Coach, And Why?

Lee Urton, Media Relations: What are the attributes that would serve a college coach well? Knowledge of the game, recruiting ability, leadership, hockey ability.

Volunteer Assistant Coach: Tim Brule Tim seems interested in sinking endless hours of work in for little to no compensation — the perfect guy for a volunteer. Besides, you wouldn’t want to pay him for haranguing the players, and giving them near-useless advice: “If a guy has the ball — I mean puck — in the crease, don’t let him score!”

Assistant Coach: Mike Machnik
Mike’s got all the knowledge of the game anyone could hope for, stored in encyclopedic fashion. He can go on (and on and on) about this or that aspect of the game. His ability to stay up at nights researching would make him a valuable recruiter. But I’ve seen him play hockey, folks (at BU’s Walter Brown Arena, no less), and Wayne Gretzky he’s not.

Head Coach: Dave Hendrickson
Dave has a son Ryan who plays youth hockey, so he has experience in working on this-skill-and-that, as well as the always difficult task of stroking the player’s ego while still letting him know who’s boss. He can take extensive notes on each player (as we’ve seen), and after listening to all those quotes, he ought to know the right thing to say in any given circumstance.

Tim Brule, USCHO Coordinator: I nominate Lee Urton, Media Relations. The reasons are simple: he has spent time in Massachusetts and Minnesota, so can recruit well in two of the hotbeds of college hockey. Furthermore, he possesses an extremely accurate shot.

He demonstrated that now-legendary shooting prowess in front of 9,000 Gopher fans at Mariucci Arena, during one of those between-period shootout contests. He took three shots from the blue line that would make any mother proud — well, sort of proud. OK … he missed the net by five feet each time…

Mike Machnik, Special Projects: Dave Hendrickson. First of all, Dave is one of the people whose opinions I respect and listen to when it comes to analyzing various aspects of the game of hockey. He knows the game well after years of playing and coaching, and he won’t hesitate to talk hockey with you. You’ll always learn something from him.

Dave is already a coach himself, working with his son Ryan’s team. It’s not college, but anyone who works with young kids and helps them to learn about the sport and appreciate it, as well as helping them develop and mature, is someone who gets a nod in my book.

Probably what sways it for me is that knowing Dave and Ryan, I can tell that Ryan is a kid with a good head on his shoulders and with a bright future, whether it is in hockey or not. While I’m sure Dave would beam at seeing Ryan play college hockey someday, I also know that Dave’s primary goal is helping his children grow up to be responsible adults and good people.

In my mind, that is the most important function that a college hockey coach — indeed, anyone who works with kids — can have. Dave wants to see his kids do well, but unlike some parents, he doesn’t live vicariously through them, and that is something to admire. I hope I’m able to do as good of a job with my kids, and I wouldn’t hesitate to have them play for Coach Dave someday.

Scott Brown, Features Editor: I nominate our Fearless Leader, Tim “What do you mean, there’s seven guys on the ice?” Brule. I can see him standing behind the bench now, issuing garbled, unintelligible commands: “Stick! Stick! Don’t fall down there! Hey, ref, is this a checking league? Woops!”

I envision Tim’s head exploding as he lectures his charges on the finer points of lacing up their skates … staying up all night getting the lowdown on the opposing team’s cheerleaders and mascot, and passing out at practice the next morning … rambling through a press conference and referring to his third-line center as “that punk.”

Yes, I’m sure Tim’s three weeks at the helm would be the most momentous in any college’s history.

Jayson Moy, ECAC Correspondent: I’m not going to pick anyone — just eliminate a few people.

Mike Machnik is out of the question. His long, eloquent diagrams of plays and explanations of technique would just stiffen up the athletes who warmed up during practice. They might also fall asleep.

Adam Wodon is also out of the question. Goatee, need I say more?

And finally, I am out of the question. I’m a native of New York City, I’m much too rude, and besides, I can’t skate.

Paula Weston, CCHA Correspondent: Everyone at USCHO should be coaching somewhere. Each staffer has a trait that makes him (in my case, her) a likely candidate to coach.

Lee Urton: Has a way with the media. Such slickness could come in handy when the NCAA investigation arises.

Tim Brule: One hard-working man. Would be especially good at forcing players to do two-a-days, which would seem like a breeze to him because his life is so busy…

Scott Brown: Deals with WRITERS all the time. Obviously, this guy can handle the occasional head-case goaltender.

Deron Treadwell: A thorough communicator–not necessarily accurate, but thorough. That’s enough in some places to get him a coaching position.

Jim Rich: Well, obviously, this guy knows all the answers. Enough said.

Frank Mazzocco: A genuine celebrity. Important trait for a school whose fan base is missing.

Adam Wodon: Devoted to hockey. Sometimes Adam seems to be in his own little hockey world, like many coaches. He’d probably update a few post-game cliches, as well.

Mike Machnik: Obsessed with hockey. Eats it. Sleeps it. Drinks it. The drinking part is especially helpful when you coach.

Dave Hendrickson: Hockey god. Does anyone know more about Hockey East than Dave? Is there any other conference? Dave’s heard the rumor that they play hockey in Ohio, but he certainly doesn’t believe it. Such single-mindedness will carry him far in a school that dares to field other sports.

Jayson Moy: Computer skills, usually lost on hockey types, so think of the edge Jayson would bring to his hockey organization.

Jim Thies: Has a head for numbers. The sheer elaborateness of his playbook alone would make him a worthy candidate.

Paula Weston: Makes a pretty good peanut butter cookie, which has nothing to do with hockey. Had 165 penalty minutes in five games in 1994. A real bruiser. Has the sort of “don’t-mess-with-me, man” attitude that either carries coaches to greatness, or gets them tossed during a game.