Sauer – the fifth-winningest coach in college history
– writes a bi-weekly column for Inside College Hockey.com.
"The Dean" was the head coach for 31 years at Colorado
College and Wisconsin, where he won two national titles. Sauer
retired at the end of the 2001-02 season.
first edition of The
Dean's List. For your listening pleasure, find The
Bud Song on Wisconsin's official site.
of the fun in doing this column is the opportunity to interact
with you, the hockey fan. Please send your questions or comments
is the best college player you have coached and who is the
best player you coached against?
– Denise Boychuk Gorman of Madison, Wis.
fortunate to coach a lot of great ones like Chris Chelios,
Curtis Joseph, Mike Richter Steve Reinprecht and Dany Heatley.
But I've always said I think the best was a guy I had in my
first year and for only one year – Pat Flatley. I think
it was because of his work ethic and maybe it was because
I was enamored that for the first time I was around a player
of that caliber. You knew he was going to be a tremendous
pro player just because of how hard he worked and the things
that he did in the corners, in front of the net and the way
he worked defensively.
an opponent that too is a little tough. I think I'd break
into different eras, since over 31 years of coaching, plus
and playing against guys, I've seen an awful lots of great
I played at Colorado College, Huffer Christensen at Duluth
was a phenom. Lou Nanne at Minnesota was a dominant college
player and Red Berenson at Michigan could take over a game.
As a coach,
it's kind of hard, as they found out last year when the WCHA
tried to pick its best players over 50 years. Among the modern
guys Jordan Leopold at Minnesota was awfully good, as was
'70s there were so many good players. Mark Johnson at Wisconsin,
Mike Zuke at Michigan Tech and Neal Broten at Minnesota. In
fact that whole line with Aaron Broten and Butsy Erickson
was memorable. In the '80s you had Brett Hull at Duluth. Now
he might not have been the best players at a time when they
had (Bill) Watson and (Tom) Kurvers and that crowd, but Brett
was impressive with that big shot.
Gino (Gasparini) had Tony Hrkac and his great teams and Murray
Armstrong had some great teams at Denver.
just too tough to name one guy. I've been fortunate to see
so many great ones.
Dean's List by Jeff Sauer
I made my debut
as a college hockey fan last weekend. I got to watch six games –
four in the IceBreaker Invitational and two women's games –
Wisconsin vs. Northeastern.
I found out
it's a different world sitting above in the stands. You get a different
perspective when you can sit back, reflect, even second guess, rather
than have to make split-second decisions on the bench – which
isn't a very good vantage point.
change to the game this year is the new face-off rule, which says
the referee has to drop the puck 15 seconds after a stoppage. It's
modeled after a similar rule which was favorably received at the
Olympics last year in Salt Lake City.
bar owners around college hockey are going to love this rule because
games are going to be over much faster. Last week's games in Madison
lasted about two hours, 10 minutes.
Now, no one
likes a post-game pizza and beer more than me, so I'm in favor of
a brisk pace at a game. But I think the rule still needs some tweaking.
visiting coach gets five seconds to make a change, the home team
gets five seconds to make a change and then there is five seconds
to drop the puck. I would like to see the game go to a 5-8-5 sequence
so that the home coach gets a little extra time to make a change.
As the rule
currently stands, I think the home coach is affected more by the
rule change. It definitely puts coaches on alert with what line
should be up next. It is much tougher for the home coach to match
lines, an advantage the home team has always had.
Now the home
coach has to identify which line the visitor is sending out and
make his match in five seconds. That's hard. I'd like to see him
get an additional three seconds. I don't think it would add a lot
of time to the game. It would keep the pace fast, which is what
the spirit of the rule is about, but still give the home team an
I noticed that
everyone is still adjusting to the rules. The officials did as they
were told and sometimes dropped the puck before centers were in
the faceoff circle. But they executed their jobs well. Players and
coaches are still getting used to the rule.
But the majority
of people I talked to, both at the games and on the phone this week,
like the rule. Coaches think it is good change for college hockey
and are supportive of it. I think coaches realize they have to be
on their toes and that, at present, the advantage of having the
last change is nullified a bit.
talks to players, I think coaches will alert players that they will
be more aware on the bench, too. If players see a certain number
jumping over the boards, they will be expected to help out, knowing
"it's my line's turn." So this rule puts coaches on alert
and it means player have to be more into the game mentally.
I don't think
the other rule changes will have as big of an impact on the fan.
crease is larger (just like the National Hockey League crease),
which should help officials determine if there is a man in the crease
on disputed goals. And again, obstruction is a point of emphasis
is interference. By emphasizing this aspect, coaches and players
are being asked to open up the game to allow more skill. Passing
and skating is part of the allure of college hockey.