July 10, 2003; UPDATED July 12, 2003
Union Jack(son)? Nope

Former LSSU coach not among candidates for Skating Dutchmen job

By Nate Ewell and Mike Eidelbes

Inside College Hockey has learned that, contrary to published reports, former Lake Superior State head coach Jeff Jackson is not a candidate for the vacant coaching position at Union.
Offseason Notebooks

July 1: Murky Waters
May 14: Feeling a Draft

Jackson, in fact, never spoke to anyone from Union or even considered applying for the position. What's more, Inside College Hockey has learned that Jackson will be introduced as an assistant coach with an NHL team shortly.

Jackson, who won two national championships with Lake State, served as the first head coach of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and later coached the Guelph Storm in the OHL. He had applied for the Vermont vacancy that was filled by former Union head coach Kevin Sneddon.

Union's search, instead, will likely focus on several assistant coaches, including former Skating Dutchmen assistants Kevin Patrick (currently an assistant at Bowling Green) and John Micheletto (currently at Notre Dame). Those two and Dartmouth assistant Dave Peters are confirmed candidates; Massachusetts assistant Bill Gilligan has pulled himself out of the running.

Current Union assistants Greg Klym and Andrew Will are candidates for the position as well. Former Clarkson head coach Mark Morris has applied. David Quinn, the U.S. Under-17 coach with the National Team Development Program, was mentioned as a possible candidate early on, but is not pursuing the position.

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Don’t be surprised if Nebraska-Omaha coach Mike Kemp repeatedly asks future recruits – especially defensemen – if they planning on spending a full four years in a Mavericks uniform.

Due to a variety of reasons, namely defections to the professional ranks and major junior teams, UNO returns just three blueliners with game experience in 2003-04. Of the three returnees, only senior-to-be Mike Gabinet boasts more than one year of experience. Joel Andresen appeared in 37 games as a freshman, while Chris Claffey, who will be a junior this season, was limited to nine games in 2002-03.

The first to go was freshman Craig Zubursky, who bolted after two games to join the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice. He’ll be joined in the WHL next season by former teammate Cody Blanshan, who last week announced he was leaving the program for the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Aaron Smith, who would have been a senior this season, was a forward who was moved to defense last year. Having finished course work at UNO, he’s chosen to pursue a professional career. It’s the same path classmate Jason Jaworski took after the Mavericks’ 2002-03 campaign ended. He latched on with the United Hockey League’s Muskegon Fury for seven games. Throw in the graduation of two-time All-American Greg Zanon, and the Mavs are wafer-thin on defense.

Kemp is bringing in three defensemen in Phil Angell (Topeka, USHL), Matt Eickman (Lincoln, USHL) and Bobby Henderson (Chilliwack, BCHL) this fall. Still, don’t expect senior netminder Dan Ellis – arguably the college game’s most overworked goaltender – to get a respite this season.


Conventional wisdom holds that a major labor impasse looms for the National Hockey League in the fall of 2004, when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires.

With that could come changes in the salary structure for entry-level players. The current CBA calls for a base salary cap of $1.24 million per year for entry-level players drafted in 2003 – a number that could certainly come down for the future in the next CBA, since NHL owners seem determined to hold down costs wherever they can.

Given that, some college hockey fans have speculated, wouldn’t it make sense for a player like Minnesota’s Thomas Vanek – taken fifth overall by Buffalo in this year’s draft – to make the jump now? He’d get his million-plus per year paycheck, and not risk a collapse of the salary cap in the new CBA.

But that logic doesn’t necessarily hold, according to sources familiar with the CBA. The entry-level salary cap is set based upon your draft year, and in the past new CBAs have not changed rules like that retroactively. (Undrafted free agents, however, would be subject to the new cap, or at least an average between the new cap and the last year they were draft-eligible.)

Of course, the cap could conceivably be renegotiated during the next round of talks. But signing now wouldn’t remove all risks for someone like Vanek, precisely because those talks haven’t begun yet. A prolonged lockout in 2004-05 would leave those players without any paycheck – and the only way they could return to college hockey, if they signed this summer, would be to join the rest of us in the stands.


A lot of professional hockey players think “giving back to the community” means leaving a 20 percent tip.

Others know better, and perhaps it’s not surprising that ex-college players are leading the way in that regard. Half of the nominees for the 2003 Professional Hockey Players’ Association Man of the Year Award – including recipient Syl Apps – played college hockey.

Apps, a Princeton alum, plays for the Trenton Titans of the ECHL. He started The Character Project, a non-profit group that provides Trenton adolescents with access to quality academic and athletic programs, and participated in a number of other volunteer projects.

“As professional hockey players, we are very fortunate to be able to do what we do for a living,” said Apps. “It gives us a great opportunity to give back to the community and the fans who support us.”

The PHPA – an organization of minor-league hockey players – established the US Airways Man of the Year award in 1999. Other nominees with college hockey backgrounds included Ray Giroux (Yale), Casey Hankinson (Minnesota), David Hymovitz (Boston College), John Jakopin (Merrimack), Ben Simon (Notre Dame), Clint Way (Michigan Tech) and Erik Westrum (Minnesota).


Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin and assistant coach Dave Smith will take part in the second annual Pittsburgh Penguins Summer Coaching Clinic this Saturday, speaking alongside new Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk to local amateur and high school coaches.

Gotkin will address offensive strategies, while Smith focuses on defense. The clinic will be held at the Island Sports Center, which is scheduled to become home to Robert Morris’s new Division I program in 2005.

No disrespect meant to Olczyk, but he’d do well to take notes while the Laker staff makes their speeches. His job with the Penguins is his first behind the bench at any level, and as Reg Dunlop might say, “we’re not exactly the Boston Bruins.”


College hockey is well represented on the 2003 USA Hockey InLine National Team, which will compete in the World Championship next week in Germany.

Ten of the 16 players have college hockey ties, including Lee Sweatt, a defenseman who will play at Colorado College in the fall.

Miami graduate Ernie Hartlieb will captain the team, while his former teammate from Oxford, Jason Deskins, will be an assistant captain along with former Wisconsin Badger Chris Nelson. Those three, along with former Western Michigan goaltender Jeff Reynaert, all played for Team USA in 2002.

Also named to the team were Justin Morrison (Colorado College), Doug Nolan (UMass Lowell), Geno Parrish (St. Cloud State), Jason Sessa (Lake Superior) and Joe Bonvie (Salem State).

A variety of sources were used in the compilation of this report.

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