couple weeks ago, I promised in this space to run through
a list of people I thought would be mortal locks for the
inaugural class of the college hockey hall of fame ... if
such a thing existed. But then I got to looking at my e-mail
inbox and thought, damn, there's a lot of crap in there.
And by crap, I mean mail from you folks.
It's not that it's junk e-mail – well,
some of it is junk and, honestly, those are the best ones
to answer. It's just that it piles up and piles up and piles
up some more. So like you're run-of-the-mill supermodel,
I'm going to do a post-holiday purge and get rid of some
of the excess baggage.
Why is Tyler Hirsch, who plays
for a much better team, a Hobey candidate [yet] you ignore
T.J. Hensick who [plays] for a sophomore-filled younger
team? Why don't you guys ever credit T.J. with anything?
Prejudice? Why? – Ed Smith; Ann Arbor, Mich.
Wait a second, Ed. In this very column last
month, didn’t I give T.J. credit for looking like
Stifler from “American Pie?” Besides, we mentioned
Hirsch in the Bull Market section of last week’s Hobey
Tracker feature, which highlights a player our staff feels
has played well for an extended period of time and could
crack our Big Board (e.g. Miami’s Nathan Davis and
Notre Dame’s David Brown.) Now, I’m now going
to systematically dismantle your argument like an Acura
in a chop shop.
T.J. Hensick gets no love from INCH – allegedly.
First, Hirsch, not Hensick, plays for the
younger team. Of the players who’ve appeared in at
least half of Michigan’s games so far this season,
three are freshmen, nine are sophomores, two are juniors,
and six are seniors. A similar breakdown of Minnesota’s
roster – based on players who’ve seen action
in at least half of the team’s contests – yields
eight freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors, and three
seniors. I’d argue Michigan has the more experienced
Taking the thread one step further, Hensick
(5-19—24 in 13 games) plays between junior Kevin Porter
and senior David Rohlfs on the Wolverines’ top line.
Hirsch (3-14—17 in 10 games), meanwhile, is on a line
with sophomore Ryan Stoa and freshman Kyle Okposo, and he
should be credited for helping them develop into two of
the team’s leading goal-scorers.
Second, you state that Hirsch “plays
for a much better team.” Did it ever occur to you
that the Gophers are better because of Hirsch’s efforts?
And could it be that Hensick, despite his offensive prowess,
is dragging the Wolverines down in other areas? I’d
argue that Hensick isn’t even the best player on his
line – Porter is a Swiss Army-knife player who can
make an impact on the top scoring unit or shadowing the
opponent’s best player.
There’s also the matter of Hirsch missing
all of last season to get his house in order. Whether that
should factor into the minds of Hobey voters is up for debate,
but that he can miss a year of hockey and return to play
at such a high level is admirable.
Not sure I understand your rankings.
I will give you an example – Sacred Heart could not
beat Northeastern on their best day. Place more emphasis
on the goal [differential] and strength of schedule. Wins
and loss realy [sic] seem to have too much emphasis in you
[sic] poll. – Michael “Rico” Rossi-Capecci;
New Milford, Conn.
I really hate comparing the relative strength
of teams by wins and losses, but the other guys here at
INCH seem to like it. And in NASCAR races, it chaps me when
the finishers are determined by time of completion. I’d
rather see drivers ranked by which car has the coolest paint
job. Maybe Ty Webb had it right in “Caddyshack”
when he said the way he measured himself against other golfers
was by height.
And while you may not think Sacred Heart couldn’t
beat Northeastern on its best day – wait, is he saying
Sacred Heart couldn’t beat Northeastern on the Pioneers’
best day, or is he saying Sacred Heart couldn’t beat
Northeastern on the Huskies’ best day? – the
Mike Check Law of Commutable Score Comparison proves otherwise.
You see, Sacred Heart beat Rensselaer, 4-3,
last week. Rensselaer beat Merrimack, 4-1. Merrimack, meanwhile,
scored its only win of the year in a 3-2 decision against
Providence, a team which beat Boston College by a 5-3 count.
And the Eagles opened the season with a 5-2 win against
Northeastern. Based on those calculations, Sacred Heart
would beat Northeastern 10-0 or 4-negative 6.
As a native of Michigan's Upper
Peninsula, I can empathize with the comments of North Dakotan
Scott from Bismarck. But … one wonders what [the University
of North Dakota’s] educational priorities are when
they spend $100 million to build a hockey arena.
What if Ralph had invested that
amount of money in academic scholarships, research funding,
and professorial chairs? Perhaps North Dakota would have
a few less blue chip hockey stars, but greater economic
progress. – Bill Denning, Houston, Texas
This is the best e-mail I’ve received
since we launched INCH in 2002. What if that money went
to fund ethanol research, or to set up a small business
incubator? How many North Dakotans would stay in the state
if the university had $100 million to offer in the form
of scholarships or no- or low-interest loans – provided
the recipients stay in the state to work for five years
Check Fan Poll
first Mike Check fan poll as selected by 15 fans from
around the world (ballots submitted prior to Tuesday's
Yeah, I realize the North Dakota hockey team
has put the state on the map, so to speak, and everyone
who’s visited the new barn says it’s unbelievable.
And I know the arena generates an economic impact when out-of-town
visitors eat and drink at Grand Forks restaurants and bars
or stay at the city’s hotels. Besides, it’s
Ralph’s money – he can do with it what he damn
well pleases. I’m sure people will e-mail echoing
similar sentiments. Wonder how North Dakota students would’ve
chosen to allot a $100 million gift. Somehow, I don’t
think an arena would’ve been their top priority.
Not to raise anyone’s hackles or anything,
but I was trying to track down a comprehensive list of donations
Engelstad made to the university during his lifetime, so
I Googled his name. One of the first links is a biography
from a web site run by an organization called National
Vanguard. I know nothing about the group, but the bio
includes what appears to be some disturbing editorializing
regarding specific events of Englelstad’s life.
In [the Nov. 13]
Napkin, you say that Eddie
Belfour will retire as the second-winningest goalie in NHL
history. Last time I looked Martin Brodeur was about
five games behind him on that list. You don't really think
Eddie will hold that lead throughout this whole season,
do you? I like Eddie, but let's be realistic. – Terry
Rood; Midland, Mich.
You’re probably right,
Terry, but stranger things have happened. Maybe Eddie will
offer Marty $1 billion to not pass him on the wins list.
I've been following
ECAC hockey all season and the amount of penalties in each
game so far has been absolutely ridiculous. But I accepted
the new standard of play because I thought that it had been
instituted for ALL conferences. Yet, I recently looked at
a list of most penalized teams and found a very interesting
trend. Eight of the 12 ECAC teams are in the top 20 most-penalized
teams. What's more surprising is that there are only two
Hockey East teams in the top 20 and NOT A SINGLE WCHA TEAM!
I grew up in Minnesota
and attended my fair share of [Minnesota Duluth] games and
by comparison there is a lot more clutch and grab in the
WCHA than in the ECAC. Apparently each conference has completely
different standards of officiating. Do you have any insight
into why this may be? – Jeremy; Hanover, N.H.
Jeremy, I wish I could help
you. I really do. Like you, I formed most of my opinions
regarding college hockey based on the WCHA. Now, I’m
not saying the league is the end-all, be-all of the college
game, but I think there is a bit more of a “let players
make the plays” mentality in the Dub.
Now that I live in middle of
CCHA country, I feel the games are called extremely tight.
I have no empirical data to support this, just my observations.
But the conspiracy theorist in me believes that since CCHA
commissioner Tom Anastos was the driving force behind the
recent changes in the way games are officiated (i.e. cracking
down on obstruction, automatic major penalties for checking
from behind), that CCHA refs who don’t call games
by the book end up getting a lot of assignments in Marquette
in the dead of winter.
How can Alaska
Fairbanks [sic] be ranked 17th? They played Air Force, Ferris
State, Northern Michigan, and Nebraska-Omaha. None of those
teams are ranked. They failed to win either game against
Alaska Anchorage. Anchorage, on the other hand, has beaten
[then fifth-rated] Wisconsin, Nebraska-Omaha and just swept
[third-ranked] North Dakota. And they don't get ranked?
I don't know what you are smoking over there. – Sue;
Eagle River, Alaska
we look at losses, too, and Anchorage has four of 'em, while
Alaska only has two. The Nanooks' losses were to the Seawolves
in OT (the other game between the two teams in October was
a tie, which hardly makes UAA stand head and shoulders above
Alaska) and a one-goal loss at Northern Michigan. Alaska
Anchorage, meanwhile, lost twice at Michigan Tech (one was
a 9-0 pasting), lost to a below-average Minnesota State
team in Mankato, and dropped a one-goal decision to Wisconsin
at Sullivan Arena.
As has been stated earlier
in this space, polls are nothing more than a collection
of opinions, and INCH was not the only poll that came to
the conclusion that Alaska is better than Alaska Anchorage.
As far as what we're smoking, I can't speak for the other
guys, but I ate smoked pheasant once. It was really good.
I'd love to get my hands on some more.
Your podcast was
really rough on the Badgers. I am so glad you get a big
laugh out of the Badgers’ misfortune this year. I
hope the Gophers stub their toes just like last year. Having
all the best recruits year after year and still not winning
more titles than they have tells you a lot about the school,
their rude fans, and their conceit. Don’t count Bucky
out. Maybe not this year but we will be back to the top
level soon. – Jeff; Verona, Wis.
I’m not sure what “having
all the best recruits year after year and still not winning
more titles than they have” tells me about the Gophers’
rude fans and their conceit, but I guess I can look into
it. Sounds like the Frozen Four afterglow in Badgerland
has faded. I don’t know that we laughed at the Badgers’
misfortune. I think we laughed at the fact that last season
we wondered whether Wisconsin had enough offense to win,
and this year’s group makes that team look like the
’81-82 Oilers. I wouldn’t consider the Badgers
unfortunate, however. After all, they do go to school in
Madison, one of the top two cities on INCH’s list
GOTTA GO SOMEWHERE...
I might change the name of this section to