Joseph Gravellese: Hockey season is less than two months away, and it certainly promises to be an interesting one -- especially after a longer-than-we'd-like offsesaon. (God, we're spoiled.)
Your humble bloggers did plan on a summer full of commentary on college hockey issues. We were in the middle of preparing a discussion of Yale's national championship (yes, that actually happened, what feels like 33 years ago) when the Marathon Monday tragedy happened, at which point I didn't really feel like discussing whether the ECAC's strong 2013 was an outlier or the beginning of a new trend.
As it is, the plan got derailed. Sorry about that. But we're back now, with lots to cover from what's been a very eventful offseason. Let's start with the aforementioned Bulldogs. That has to be one of the most impressive runs in NCAA history that they went on to win the title.
Grant Salzano: Beating Minnesota was enough to make Yale the biggest troll of the tournament, particularly after the YouTube video someone (cough) put out featuring Hitler-as-Minnesota-fan.
That would have been enough to have the college hockey world send them home with a hearty salute. But knocking off North Dakota on the same weekend even put them in the goodwill of the Gopher fans.
Then they followed that up with a game against Lowell -- who many of us expected to take the title.
And I won't even make a joke about Quinnipiac being crappy... because they were, after all, #1 in the country.
...Although, let's be honest, they were kind of crappy.
JG: For sure. The most interesting thing about the craziness that was this Frozen Four was that for months many of us were worried about whether the realignment in college hockey would kill off some of the smaller programs. And then Yale and Quinnipiac go and play for the national title.
With all the weirdness and parity in college hockey right now due to overage players, talent defection to major juniors, etc. -- do you think the Yale win is a sign of things to come, or a mere outlier?
GS: I think the reduction of parity in college hockey is a bit overstated.
If anything, the overage players aspect kind of goes against it. You usually see those guys go to the Lowells and Merrimacks of the world.
Talent defection to major juniors has always been there (at least in the era we've been watching). That isn't really changed.
The only thing that could point to a parity disparity (ooh, I like that, 'parity disparity,' that really rolls off the tongue) is the higher number of out-of-conference games. Yes, Merrimack and their ilk are going to have trouble scheduling interesting matchups, and recruits are less likely to want to come play for them.
...But honestly, if a player chooses to go to Merrimack, chances are they didn't have many other options to begin with.
So from a recruiting standpoint, I don't think it's going to make all that much of a difference.
JG: Fair enough. I think another factor here that's going to keep the parity trend alive is, simply, the growing nationwide talent pool that USA Hockey is producing, including from nontraditional areas where the power pograms don't traditionally recruit from.
So I don't think we're going to be seeing a Penn State New World Order or anything like that.
GS: I was going to mention that -- it's not at nearly the same magnitude as in the women's game (not even close really) -- but the talent pool is definitely growing. That can only help the smaller teams, when teams like BC already have their pick of who to recruit.
One thing I wanted to mention before we switch gears -- I didn't anticipate being so strongly for Yale and against Quinnipiac in the final, but good God did the Bobcat fans get insufferable toward the end there.
At least Yale is the oldest college hockey program in America. Tip of the cap to history, and all that.
JG: Yeah, as a college hockey snob, that's all we really had left to go with. Thanks, Yale.
This will definitely be a topic we'll come back to throughout the season.
Moving on, the bummer of the summer (ha!!!) was losing Mike Cavanaugh to UConn.
GS: Yeah that was tough. But I was more concerned with holding on to Coach Brown. It has become more and more clear that he is the 'heir apparent' when King Jerry of York retires in 30 or 40 years.
But there's no doubt Cav has been a big part of our success.
JG: Yeah. I think this move pretty much solidifies Brown as the likely heir apparent - though Cavanaugh will be getting some critical head coaching experience.
GS: I worry that people are going to take UConn too lightly this year. They hovered right around TUC status last year, and they're still in the process of rolling in their scholarships.
Now, KRACH wasn't particularly impressed with them (KRACH had them only above Northeastern in Hockey East last year) but nonetheless, UConn has become more than a complete and total doormat the last couple years.
JG: One takeaway from this -- and really, I don't mean to be so mean to Northeastern all the time, but they make it too easy -- it looks like UConn is a program already poised to be more competitive than Northeastern in Hockey East within a couple of years.
GS: A couple of years? Joe, I would be SHOCKED if UConn was worse than Northeastern *this year*. I know they won't be in the conference yet, but still.
JG: Well, it'll be hard to tell given the competition UConn will be playing, and the fact that Cavanaugh won't really have a crop full of his own recruits. But come next year...
While I have no inside information, you have to think Cavanaugh would have taken the NU gig when it was available a few years back. I think they'll rue that day.
GS: I'm not so sure about that. Knowing the history of Northeastern and their AD's GDF-esque ability to try to not let their flagship program succeed, UConn seems like the more desirable job at the moment. The school is going to be dumping money into that dump like a black hole.
That's with the hindsight of knowing that UConn's job DID become available, of course.
Stop by tomorrow for Part 2, where we take a look at some offseason quick-hits and talk goaltending.