May 12, 2004
Postcard: Answering the Call
Gadowsky ready to fight the perception that you can’t win at Princeton

By Nate Ewell

Guy Gadowsky knows that he faces a bit of a learning curve at Princeton. You don’t need him to tell you that – in fact, when you called on his first full day in the Tiger hockey office, you got a pretty good sense that the moving process is ongoing:

A Winning Equation?

Full disclosure: the author of this piece is a Princeton alum.

Biases aside, there is reason to believe Guy Gadowsky's incredulous response when confronted with the thinking that no one can win at Princeton. Here are three:

1) An outsider's energy: In any Ivy League coaching opening, people assume another Ivy Leaguer will have the best shot. But an outsider – like, say, Don Cahoon, can bring an energy and an appreciation to the place that an insider might take for granted. You can definitely feel that excitement in Gadowsky.

2) Getting them in: Admissions is a crucial hurdle at Princeton, or anywhere in the Ivy League. Tiger athletics lost a great ally when Dean of Admissions Fred Hargadon retired last spring, but early impressions of new dean Janet Rapelye are favorable in the athletic department.

3) Expectation management: Nobody expects Princeton to win the ECAC every year. They never won the regular season title under Cahoon – in fact, they never finished higher than fourth. But contending for a top-four finish, the way Brown and Dartmouth have recently, seems reasonable, and would be considered a success at Old Nassau.

– Nate Ewell

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“Your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message center. [Blank pause] is not available.”

In short order, Gadowsky's voicemail was set up, and by midweek several other pieces that make up this jigsaw puzzle of a move – across the continent, and from an obscure, primarily Division II school to the Ivy League – were coming into place. Other pieces, like hiring assistants, await, but the groundwork has been laid, and so far Gadowsky likes what he sees.

He had the chance to gather the returning players last Friday afternoon, a meeting he gushes about. “I loved that,” he said. “Of all the things you do in a move like this, that’s the best.”

That’s not all he was excited about. A Colorado College alumnus, he had never been to Princeton’s campus before. “You always hear how beautiful it is,” he said. “Even that doesn’t prepare you for it. It’s the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen.”

Historic Baker Rink – a place befitting John Updike’s “lyric little bandbox” line used to describe Fenway Park – blew Gadowsky away as well. “I think it could rock. I like it. It’s got seating on all four sides, and it’s got a lot of character. Our guys really like it, and it could be great.”

For all that excitement, he knows there are no quick fixes. Princeton’s recruiting class was picked apart in the last two months, with commitments Nick Dodge and Jean-Francois Boucher turning instead to Clarkson and Yale, respectively. And bringing in reinforcements for this fall isn’t an option at this point for Princeton, Gadowsky concedes, like it might be at another school.

But that’s not enough to dampen his enthusiasm. It may be an obvious question, but you can’t even finish asking Gadowsky what he thinks of the theory that Princeton is a place where you can’t win.

“I wouldn’t be here if I believed that,” he interrupts. “I don’t understand why you can’t win here – it’s Princeton. You’re selling the best. I don’t buy that at all.”

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