If I don't get to avoid all this UConn nonsense, neither do you.
Earlier this week I wrote about how I'm far less against UConn joining Hockey East than most people I know. While that is still the case, holy hell have they gotten annoying about it.
On Friday, UConn had their big welcoming party at the XL Center in Hartford with much pomp and circumstance. There's a lot of excitement building around the program, which is great. I want UConn to succeed, to a certain extent. But the air of entitlement is getting absolutely ridiculous and smacks of, quite frankly, complete and utter ignorance.
A quick summary of yesterday's events in Hartford -- several state and UConn bigshots showed up at, apparently, a pep rally for people in suits, to "welcome" UConn to Hockey East. The UConn pep band showed up, as well as Governor Malloy, a BC alum who had a lot to do with getting UConn in the door. There was lots of "rah rah" and "we're cool kids now! [high five]." For a more in-depth look at what happened, you can just read the article on UConn's website.
I get the celebration. I get that. Have fun, go nuts, you get to sit at the big kids table now. What's left a bad taste in my mouth over is all of this entitlement nonsense being put forth by UConn's administration and fans.
CHN's Scott McLaughlin was at the event and live tweeted a lot of what was being said. Some of it was just completely mind-boggling.
Let's go down the list:
UConn AD Warde Manuel says they aren't doing this to participate in HE; they're doing this to win HE.— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin9) June 29, 2012
Again, no problem with this. Something you would expect someone to say at such an event. I mean, they won't be winning Hockey East any time soon, but a reasonable start to your party nonetheless.
Conn. Governor Dannel Malloy says this is about elevating UConn hockey to where it should be and should've been already.— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin9) June 29, 2012
Whoa, whoa, what? Where it should be? What do you mean "where it should be"? UConn hockey has been providing the rest of D1 college hockey with somewhere to wipe its feet for years. What about a .378 (!) winning percentage since joining the worst conference in the current landscape of D1 hockey suggests that they "should be" in Hockey East? Where does this entitlement come from?
XL Center Senior VP Chuck Steedman said he plans to bid for the HE Championship. Yeah... good luck with that.— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin9) June 29, 2012
What?? "Good luck with that" is right. I'm barely going to touch this. You might as well put it in Toronto.
[Senate Republican Leader John McKinney] also said no pressure on Bruce Marshall, but he expects top CT players like Quick, Pacioretty, Atkinson to go to UConn in near future— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin9) June 29, 2012
"He" referring to Senate Republican Leader John McKinney.
And this is based on... what, exactly? Some fun game you played in your head where UConn was suddenly this really attractive school for hockey recruits? This is one of those things that just smacks of ignorance. You have no idea what in the hell you're talking about, do you, Senate Republican Leader John McKinney? Some secretary just slapped this on your list of crap to do today and you were like, okay sweet. That's exactly what happened, isn't it?
These kids playing hockey in Connecticut aren't dumb. They have been living hockey for the last dozen years. They know college hockey. They know the top schools. You think just because "hey, UConn has a team!" all these top recruits are going to flock to UConn, instead of the top hockey schools in the country?
No. I'll tell you exactly what's going to happen.
1) When UConn starts rolling out scholarships, Johnny Q. Amazing is going to look at UConn, and is going to see a piece of crap hockey team. And then they are going to see scholarship offers from BC, BU, Notre Dame... and UConn. And then he will laugh, and he will choose Not UConn.
2) Then will come along Ricky Z. Decent. Ricky isn't on the NHL radar. He will look at UConn and not see a piece of crap hockey team, but a guaranteed four-years of starting time in a big-time conference. He will also see offers from good schools where he might be a role player and may play 2 and a half full years of hockey. And he may very well choose UConn. Good for him. He doesn't have a future beyond college hockey, why shouldn't he choose the guaranteed four more years of playing time?
3) Joey K. Nahtbad and Timmy Y. Okeigh will do the same thing as Ricky Z. And after several years of this, UConn will field a pretty decent team.
4) UConn will have a full complement of scholarships. They will then be something a little better than Quinnipiac. A middle of the road school in a great conference. And some kids will go to UConn. But the top recruits are going to the NHL factories with title hopes.
Invite them to the big kids table and suddenly we have UConn fans acting like they know all about big-time college hockey, and all over the place we get some nonsense about their "winning tradition" and about how, hey, we're really good and basketball and won a conference title in football, we can do it in hockey too, no big deal!
No, you can't. You know who else in D1 hockey has scholarships? The vast majority of programs. You think you're suddenly going to be better than most of them because you recruited a borderline illiterate and won the national title in basketball? You think because you won the Big East title in football that one time, in a conference that ended the season with a grand total of Zero ranked teams, that all of a sudden conference titles in the premier college hockey conference in North America are in your grasp?
This is like if UConn joined the SEC in football when they went to FBS and not the Big East. People would be laughing at this nonsense just like they are now, except more people would be aware of it.
I will say this one more time. UConn will do just fine if they do indeed have a long-term plan to bring all their home games on campus. They will get their share of decent in-state recruits. They'll earn this spot at the big kids table. But they won't be winning any hardware any time soon.
Let's come back down to earth for a second. All those things you're so excited about -- having a full compliment of scholarships, being in a great conference, (hopefully) having a real hockey arena on campus, etc. -- just remember, there are 11 other college hockey programs in your conference who already have those things. It's not a magic elixir that makes you suddenly win trophies.
So please, honestly, tone it down a bit, Huskies. For all of us.