Part two of a continuing series this week features our take on how Gene DeFilippo's departure will affect the Boston College hockey program. In short, hopefully Coach Flip's retirement affects BC hockey as little as possible. When you're looking at a program with 3 national titles in the last 5 years, change is bad.
Like Conrad said yesterday in his take on the basketball program, DeFilippo's mark on the hockey program has been positive. Unfortunately for him, that's because he has kept his distance from the program almost entirely.
It's pretty apparent that the BC hockey community doesn't think very much of DeFilippo. Just a few months ago, an anonymous donor made a $5 million donation to the program specifically to endow the men's hockey head coaching position. Most telling was the almost literal "here's $5 million, Gene, and by the way, you can't touch a dime of it for anything else, please continue staying far away from our hockey program" stapled to the check.
Let's check our emotions at the door, though, and break down some pros and cons of Gene's contributions to Boston College hockey.
PRO: DeFilippo may not have hired Jerry York. But he also was at least not enough of a moron to ever let him go. He knew what he had. In 2010, Gene planned on retiring Jerry York's number in the victory ceremony on O'Neill Plaza, but Jerry York, in true Jerry York fashion, politely declined.
PRO: Over the few years, Gene has overseen a dramatic renovation of Conte Forum. You can argue that basketball was probably the driving force behind these renovations, and that may be true, but the fact of the matter is that Conte Forum's aesthetics have improved a hundredfold. The new banners alone make a huge difference, but the shiny new Hall of Fame wall and the increase in maroon and gold paint throughout the arena make a BC hockey fan much more proud to call Conte Forum home.
... And oh yeah, we also have the greatest scoreboards north of Dallas.
CON: The biggest criticism toward DeFilippo has come from fans clamoring for an air conditioning system to be put into Conte Forum. While I really wish that can be a reality someday, I don't get on Gene for this as much because the cost to retrofit air conditioning is so much higher than it would have been to put it in there in the first place. The problem I have is just how badly the issue has been dealt with.
It all started in 2006 when heat and humidity caused a blanket of fog to descend on Kelley Rink. Incredibly, after just 11 minutes, the game was postponed because no one could see a thing on the ice. Black eye to the program, no doubt. But okay, just learn from it.
Fast forward to 2007. North Dakota was coming to town and BC expected similar weather conditions to the BU debacle. Unfortunately, BC's solution only made the problem worse. Giant dehumidifiers were brought in to try and counteract the problem. Unfortunately, the dehumidifiers 1) cause a pair of power outages on national TV, and 2) didn't work well enough, because the game was forced to conclude after just two periods because of the fog, resulting in a 0-0 tie.
It didn't end there. the women's hockey team's home openers in 2008 against Clarkson had to be moved to upstate New York because Conte Forum was not prepared for the games because of high humidity and fog.
Needless to say, the problem has been a public black eye for the program.
So to sum, what do we hope from a new athletic director?
Really, it comes down to just two things.
First, from a competition standpoint, just sit back and let Jerry York do his thing. Does Jerry York want a raise? Give it to him. Does Jerry York want free decaf iced coffee from Dunks for life? Make it happen. Easy enough. Jerry York runs that ship. Oh, and build him a statue, whether he wants it or not.
Second, continue the work on Conte Forum, both aesthetically and functionally. You don't need to do anything major as far as looks are concerned, but keep up the little things. Maybe get new glass. Make the railings in the upper deck a little easier to see through. Nothing crazy, but keep up the progress.
But yes, something needs to be done -- and as a permanent solution, not a temporary band-aid -- about the humidity problem. It has improved, but long term, air conditioning needs to be put in, despite the cost. As the premier collegiate hockey program in all of North America, we have more than earned it, despite the high costs. Start a fundraising campaign just for A/C if you have to. But it needs to be done.
Gene DeFilippo was no friend to the hockey program, but he was no enemy either. He did lay a decent blueprint for how the future athletic director should handle a hockey program that is run by one of the sports true deities. More can be done, but the future AD needs to make sure they focus solely on facilities if they want to meddle with the program.