Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ohio State Hockey: A Post Mortem

The following numbers are sports scores that have a common result.


These scores mark the last five times the Ohio State Hockey team played in the NCAA tournament. They were on the losing end each time. The team has not seen victory in the tournament since their frozen four run, ten years ago.

I was surprised that they got into the tourney this year, they did beat three of the number one seeds during the season and got creamed yesterday by the only team they did not play - Boston University.

Next season is an important one for the OSU Hockey program. They're only losing three seniors. Only one of these seniors, Corey Elkins, was productive offensively. The other two, Zak Pellitier and Nick Biondo, provided veteran leadership and little else in their four years. They're really not losing much. It's also the final year of the head coach's contract.

A large number of underclassmen will be returning. Will Zac Dalpe, who is a high draft choice of the Hurricanes? Heck, will goaltender Dustin Carlson? Ok, he will be back.

In other words, there should be no excuses next season for the Buckeyes being a "young team."

Honestly, I heard that so many times this season I thought my head would fly off each time I read it.

Under John Markell, this program has always had excuses for consistent mediocrity, at best. The team was young, so and so got hurt, so and so (Hugo Boisvert) left the program early and my favorite - "the reason we've lost so many games is that we have played a lot of games."

One thing that has been consistent in the program's lack of consistency is John Markell. He came on and, admittedly, did bring the program into the eye of the athletic department and brought the program to its only NCAA frozen four appearance. However over his fourteen year tenure as coach it's been a couple of years of above average performance followed by a few more years of below average play, under achieving and excuses.

It's said that in in order to be considered a good college hockey team, winning twenty games in a season is a benchmark. In his time has coach, Markell's teams have won twenty or more games seven times. Half of his time here.

Ohio State, I suspect, wants to be considered one of the elite programs in the country for college hockey. After all, they invested millions of dollars into building the Schottenstein Center, untold sums of money in state of the art training facilities and the recruiting of top athletes to play for the Buckeyes. Here are the numbers for some of the elite college hockey programs.

Miami University's coach Enrico Blasi has won twenty games seven times in his decade as head of the Redhawks, the same as Markell.

Boston University's Jack Parker has hit the twenty win mark sixteen times in the last twenty years.

Jerry York has won twenty games 11 of his sixteen years as coach of Boston College.

The University of North Dakota has had three coaches in the last twenty years and has won twenty games fourteen of those years.

Now. Here's the staggering one.

Red Berenson's Michigan teams have won twenty or more games twenty two years in a row.

Markell has a long way to go to approach the elite status. I'm not sure he's the guy who is going to take your team to the next level. He's shown that his team can win, a little bit, during the regular season with an inability to win in the post season. One CCHA Championship in his time as coach is not enough. The University is not getting the proper return on its investment in the facilities and the program.

John Markell should not have his contract extended next season.

I like John Markell and want him to do well. I want the program to succeed and do well. In an ideal world Markell would be welcomed with open arms at Bowling Green, his alma mater, and return that program to its past successes.

Who comes here? Who knows? Rumors of former North Dakota coach Dean Blais have been around for a couple of seasons, but would Blais want to return to a city where he did not do well as a Blue Jackets assistant coach?

Attendance is horrible. An arena that seats 17,000 is barely a third full, at best for games. Part of this is the marketing of the program. Part of this is the coach providing a good hockey tradition. It's time for the Ohio State University Athletic Department to look at the talent that is coming into the hockey program, see how they are being coached and act appropriately.

No comments: