Part I of III: Because apparently a ton of you had questions for us for some reason. Merry Christmas, tl;dr guy.
Joseph Gravellese: Welcome to this week's special super-sized edition of the Hockey Banter, where we take reader Q&As by Twitter and via comment here at BC Interruption for a Hockey Mailbag. Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments and we'll tackle those questions, too. We hope to make this a semi-regular feature and are happy that we got so many great questions for our first edition. Hopefully we get even more (and from a broader range of people) next time. Shall we begin?
Grant Salzano: We shall. What's the first order of business from our Bag o' Q's?
JG: The first question comes via @DixiEagle, who asks: To what do you attribute the almost inevitable "January slump" by BC hockey?
I figured we'd start with that, as it's a timely question.
GS: Very timely.
Okay, basically, BC plays rope-a-dope in the middle of the season so they don't just cancel the playoffs and award us the trophy.
JG: Seriously, that's your A to this Q?
GS: More seriously, I think it has to do with a loss of chemistry for whatever reason. Either intentional line shuffling, or forced line shuffling (losing Alber, Gaudreau going to World Juniors, you name it). Then the right combination is found once we have a full team again and we just go off on a tear.
It *is* really strange that it happens EVERY SINGLE YEAR though.
That's my A to this Q.
JG: I think it has something to do with Jerry York's even-keeled approach and focus on Trophy Season. You're not going to see this coaching staff panic or make crazy adjustments on the basis of one or two bad games, or make the team do some crazy drills or something because they had a bad effort.
York will calmly observe everything he sees going wrong and log it in his notebook, then adjust accordingly as the end of the season approaches.
Our next question came from a comment here at the website, from ONeillTn, who has a string of questions about potential flight risks.
OneillTn via comment: How many years do you think Matheson will stay with the team? What players do you suspect will leave the team early after this season? Do you think there’s a chance of keeping Gaudreau for 4 years due to his size?
My quick answers are: Two, Kevin Hayes, and No.
GS: Mine: Three, Kevin Hayes, and slight. I think three years is more likely.
I originally thought Matheson was going to be a one- or two- and done, but he has some serious learnin' to do before he can hit the pros I think. Fine tuning, if you will.
JG: Matheson is one of those guys who's considered a flight risk from before he even steps on campus because of his #1 draft pick in the QMJHL and being Canadian, basically. Which is probably unfair, but it is what it is.
He DEFINITELY has some more necessary development before he's ready to go pro, but I can also see him getting frustrated with the Hockey East officiating and lack of physicality, Petrecki-style, and decide his game will better develop in minor pro hockey. And he may be right. But it won't be after this year.
I don't think any of the current underclassmen should leave early, and that's not just my BC bias as I was fine with the decisions of Kreider, Dumoulin, Atkinson and Gerbe to leave early in recent years.
GS: I also think BC holding on to top prospects for at least three years is more than just coincidence. The players are buying what Jerry's selling.
JG: I think Kevin Hayes makes the leap. He's a pro-style player and they'll want him to go into the AHL and learn how to hack it against professionals, I think.
Gaudreau will be three years, I think. Maybe if he wins the Hobey AND leads BC to a national title, AND the Flames offer a max rookie contract, then maybe you'll see him go this summer. That would be a fine problem to have.
Related questions: @StephStMartin: All-time - who would you start in net for #BCHockey? And as a follow-up - if Cory Schneider had played Game 7 vs the Bruins, would Vancouver have won?
@mandylizz: Who would be in your all-time best BC team?
I'll tackle this first.
I literally had a nightmare one night during the Bruins-Canucks Stanley Cup Final -- like, an actual, in-my-sleep, wake-up-frightened nightmare -- in which Cory Schneider came in in relief and stonewalled the Bruins to win the Cup for Vancouver. As a pre-'11 suffering Bruins fan that would have been the cruelest heartbreak of all, and I would have been able to have 0.0000 happiness for Schneider, sorry to say.
And yes, I do actually think he would've won game 7 for them, or at least given them a better chance (since as it were, the Canucks scored 0 on Thomas in Game 7, so it wouldn't have mattered). He was a brick wall when he came in in relief.
I'll limit my "all time BC" picks to just since 2006 when I enrolled at BC, since it's really not fair for me to judge more recent players against guys I never watched from the olden days.
That top six would be:
Muse....which is a tough call, because Schneider IMO was and is extraordinarily gifted, but Muse was absolutely nails for BC in the biggest of games.
Dumoulin and Mike Brennan on defense. Brennan is a bit of a sleeper pick -- maybe not the second most talented D man I've seen at BC since '06, but definitively an indispensible leader without whom we probably don't win the title in '08.
And a top line of Kreider, Gaudreau, and Gerbe, although honestly there have been so many forwards it's hard to stick to three.
GS: I'll give short answers for this one, also limiting my selections to 2006 and later:
1) Cory Schneider would not have beaten the Bruins. That season was DESTINY. I don't care if Jesus was in net, Esposito would have come out of retirement and put in every rebound.
2) My All-time team would be Schneider in net (he was just the most talented, despite his lack of wins on the big stage). Dumo and Cross on D (my wife says Sneep, but, I give the slight edge to Cross). Front three are pretty clearly Kreider-Gaudreau-Gerbe, I don't think there's much debate on that.
JG: Cross was my biggest snub. Fail.
Next question: @BCInterruption: BC loses one game against each HEA opponent next year when Notre Dame joins up. Rank opponents 1-9 based on how much you’ll miss the extra game.
1. BU, obviously.
2. UNH. Kind of also obviously, even though games against them tend to be annoying they're usually good.
3. Northeastern. I enjoy those games. I know not all BC fans share my opinion here.
4. Maine. Always fun even when they suck. REALLY fun when they're good. Great fans, great road trip.
5. Providence. Nice easy road trip when it happens and usually a slam dunk win.
6. Vermont, UMass, UMassLowell - this is a cop out but I could pretty much take or leave the extra game against any one of these teams. Whatever.
9. Merrimack. I'd be fine with going to 0 against them.
GS: 1) BU 2) UNH 3) NU 4) Maine 5-9) It's a wash.
Wow, pretty much spot on with what you had. HA.
JG: Next, from BC sophomore @AustinHBurns: Which are the best and worst Hockey East parody accounts?
@FakeJackParker is the original and the best. Hilarious because it's pretty much what a parody account is all about, an exaggerated version of the real thing, that you could plausibly see the real one saying.
@FakeJerryYork sucks most of the time. It's funny when @FakeJerryYork is occasionally mean because it's shocking, but the account jumped the shark by being mean and snarky most of the time.
Fake Tim Benedetto -- I forget the handle -- also usually tweets hockey commentary that bears little relation to anything one would expect from Tim Benedetto. D-.
GS: @FakeMarkDennehy is awesome. I would have unfollowed him a long time ago because who gives a crap about Merrimack, but the snark is great.
@FakeJackParker gets the nod for worst because there is SO MUCH POTENTIAL but they haven't posted since September and the Task Force report, though it was hilarious:
No but seriously, this is all quite disturbing.— Fake Jack Parker (@FakeJackParker) September 7, 2012
JG: @BCInterruption: HEA promotion and relegation: Which two ECAC teams would you promote to HEA? Which two would you send down?
Going down: Merrimack, and, uh... I don't know. I like everyone else in HE, I really do. Well, I don't LIKE them, but I like that they're in Hockey East. If I have to pick someone I'd say UMass, because, to quote my girlfriend, "they're obnoxious dipshits."
"That's as good a reason as any."
This is assuming we're not allowed to preemptively relegate UConn.
Coming up: Quinnipiac, obviously, and I'll go with RPI. Love that program. Adam Oates, baby!
GS: That would be the BEST IDEA EVER in practice. But: Quinnipiac (I've always been on the Q's bandwagon) and Yale (they've been consistently great for a while now) for promotion, and Vermont and UConn for relegation. I am preemptively relegating UConn.
My wife is freaking out at me for not picking Merrimack. "THEY HAVE HIGH SCHOOL JERSEYS! THEY HAVE IRON-ON NUMBERS!"
JG: @BCInterruption: With much more scheduling freedom after realignment, will smaller teams have a harder time filling non-conference dates with top opponents, and if so, will the gap between the haves and have nots widen even further?
Yes, unfortunately. Or, I guess, fortunately, if you're a fan of one of the Big Fish. Which we are. So yay!
But I think the Brave New World of college hockey is going to be a lot less welcoming to nontraditional sports powers that tend to be hockey-first. I think the age of schools like Lake Superior State and Minnesota-Duluth winning national champiopnships is probably just about over.
GS: The lower teams don't really have schedules chock-full of top opponents anyway, and I think that's probably partially by design. What good will it do for a bottom-of-the-barrel Hockey East team to get pasted by Wisconsin and Denver 4x a year? So I don't really think it will change things all that much to be honest.
JG: From a friend out west, @MNState0fHockey: A lot of us Gopher fans are thrilled to be playing the big schools out East again. What are your thoughts on the potential renewal of the East/West rivalry that was so great when I was growing up?
Obviously we love this. We hate a couple of things about realignment: 1) the BTHC blowing up the great WCHA rivalries, 2) losing games against BU, 3) having effing UConn in Hockey East (can we say this enough?), but it's going to be AMAZING to see Minnesota, Denver, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan (well, I guess not Michigan these days..womp womp) come to Conte.
Those are going to be ELECTRIC nights. And should foster some fun bad blood with great tournament-time rematches. Can't wait.
GS: Yeah basically. The more games against Minnesota, Wisconsin, NoDak, Denver, etc. the better. I absolutely cannot wait to see these teams at Conte on a regular basis.
JG: You can't have contempt without familiarity. BC-North Dakota was a fun, nasty rivalry for a few years when it seemed like we played each other every year in the frozen four.
Related questions: @mandylizz: Worst pep band you’ve ever heard at a college hockey game?
@AustinHBurns: Worst/best pep bands in Hockey East?
Harvard obviously takes the cake, by far, for worst college hockey pep band. Is that even up for discussion? From musical ability to song choice, everything about them is bad. I will give them credit for being funny and not seeming to take themselves too seriously. But other than that, AHHHH no.
GS: Harvard is so clearly the worst. Though I can understand how it might be tough to recruit the 5-star clarinet players when your band is forced to take the T to and from hockey games in Boston.
Northeastern is a distant second but they've been improving.
BU's is the best, far and away. Barf. Their student section is nothing without them. Honorable mention to the Lowell Jazz Band because, come on, they are a jazz band.
JG: Best pep band in Hockey East is a tough one because there are several good bands with different and unique styles. I really like BC's pep band -- not just because it's BC and because a 5-year band member is looking over my shoulder. They tend to have very few off nights, even when it's over break, and the song choices are usually fresh.
BU's pep band is awesome, but minus points because they have a giant band because it's THE SPORT for the big band to play at; the BCMB would sound baller in Conte (that needs to happen once, like, during a game). Though as the lady points out, "They stole our director, and they stole our arrangements. Screw them."
And then, Lowell, yes. The jazz band. SO cool. I love it, every time. A pep band with a guitar is cool by me. If odd and disorienting.
Northeastern's is the worst in Hockey East, but yes, they're getting better as long as they avoid the high notes.
@adamar108: On a scale of 1 to Lennay Kekua jokes, how hilarious was BC’s goal #4 during NU during the 10 minutes of Milner, Milner, Milner You Suck chants?
I didn't see this, but apparently it happened. This goes to show that when you pull off a classic chant/fan moment, you can't repeat it, that just kills it like Manti Te'o's girlfriend. The Milner Milner Milner You Suck torture chamber back in October was a classic, LOL that got ruined on Saturday night.
GS: My short answer is that I give it a 6.4 on the funny scale.
JG: @BCInterruption: How many more years does York have? Do you see him retiring at a point where Parker could catch him for the record?
I would say five years, and No. I could see Parker WANTING to hang on for a long time but I don't think it happens. In five years York will probably have a pretty solid gap over Parker. And I don't think Parker makes it another 5.
GS: Honestly Jerry has made it pretty clear that he's still having fun doing what he's doing. I think we may be wicked fortunate and see more than 5 years.
I seriously don't think Jack Parker makes it more than two more years. Seriously. He is well on his way out.
JG: @FearTheTriangle: Who’s your pick to take over for York when he retires?
When that horrible day comes, I would be happy with -- and only with -- the elevation of Mike Cavanaugh or Greg Brown. From what I know about them they'd both be good choices though I really in particularly like Cav and think he would make a tremendous head coach.
The people "in the know" who I talk to seem to think Brown might have the inside track as he's a BC grad, ex-NHLer and is a little bit more like Jerry personality-wise.
I'd be happy with either of those two, but I would be really uneasy with anyone else. The two most mentioned external candidates are Mark Dennehy and Rico Blasi and I want no part of either, honestly.
GS: I've been back and forth between Cav and Brown and I think I'm on the Brown bandwagon right now. He seems to be the hot young assistant everyone wants. So, he's the one I'd want. I also very much like that he's a BC grad or not. I don't think it should really *matter* in the selection process but it's definitely a bonus.
@ACal6888: Which BU player/alum do you hate the most?
Brandon Yip. Still can't believe he made the NHL. I won't hold it against Colby Cohen that he had that stupid lucky shot against Miami. He did what he had to do.
GS: Good question. I'd have to go with Gryba. I'm pretty sure he was at BU for 8 years, and I'm definitely sure that was a terrible hockey player who was the epitome of goon.
JG: @Nutmegger516: What the heck did Coach York say during the first intermission vs. Northeastern?
Well, he wasn't there, as he was still recovering from surgery.
GS: HA! Witty response.
Be sure to return tomorrow and Friday for parts II and III of Hockey Banter Mailbag, where we tackle even more really, really important questions about college hockey.