This Week in Disrespect: Back to the Future
So we’re reading things about Hockey East this morning over a nice bowl of Lucky Charms, as we are wont to do, and everything seems to be in order.
Both UNH and BC are feelin’ alright about how their team is shaking out heading into the final weekend. Maine’s looking forward to reaming a UMass Amherst team just trying to survive by about 50 this weekend. Lowell’s got a pretty good chance to sweep Vermont. BU and NU are nervy. Merrimack can easily sweep last-place Providence, whose team is a joke, and that’ll just abo…
Wait a second.
If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and click that last link, the one about Providence. Read through it. Notice anything awry?
We sure did.
That column featured a lot of trash talk about the (crap) job Tim Army has done since taking over behind Providence’s bench five seasons ago.
“The hockey team can’t score,” writes brilliant observer of the obvious Jim Donaldson, adding, “Two years ago … Army was awarded a contract extension by Bob Driscoll, PC’s director of athletics. Since then, the Friars have not finished ahead of a single team in Hockey East.”
That’s a stat, huh? That’s 97 losses in five seasons (too bad they can’t get to an even 100). Just terrible. And there’s another like nine paragraphs of Army- and Friar-bashing for you to enjoy before you come to the jaw-droppingly insane part.
While it’s asking a lot to expect PC to become a perennial Hockey East power the likes of BC, Boston University and New Hampshire,
Way, way, way, way, way, way, way too much, actually.
is it too much to ask that the Friars regularly finish ahead of the likes of UMass, Merrimack, and Lowell?
Okay, Merrimack we see. Perennial doormat before Providence usurped their unwanted crown, boasting at least three of the five worst teams in Hockey East history.
(Steel yourselves here, readers. We’re about to lump Lowell in with Amherst.)
No, Jim, there’s no way Providence should “finish ahead of the likes of” Lowell and Merrimack and Amherst. Not any more. Hadn’t you just written like 500 words about why Tim Army is an incompetent boob that has taken a mediocre team and driven it straight into the ground with extreme and excessive force? Coulda sworn we read a number of paragraphs detailing the ways in which Army took over a decent-if-slowly-dying program that was being strangled by Paul Pooley and had it, at one point in 2005, 8-2-1 (that record is a death sentence) and tied for first in Hockey East before tying an anchor around its neck and dragging it deep into the murky depths of failure.
Oh no, look. Here it is. There is, in fact, a lot about that.
Let’s look at Providence’s progression since, let’s say, the middle of the decade. They had 31 points in ’05-06 to finish fifth, then 21 to finish eighth, then 27 to finish fifth, then 13 and dead last the past two seasons. Hmm, let’s look at a representative graph.
We’re even going to let you go ahead and guess which team is which. Hint: the colors have a lot to do with which line represents which team.
Done guessing? Or do you need another hint? Okay, then let’s look at the graph just in terms of trendlines.
Well that’s a little telling, isn’t it. This Blue Team, we’ll call them the Warriors, seems to be trending up significantly. And the Red Team, heretofore known as the River Hawks, is also moving steadily up. And sure, the Maroon Team, or “Minutemen,” are heading slightly down, but that’s only because of the extreme outlier in 2006-07, because otherwise they’re holding almost perfectly steady.
So that leaves us with the Black Team, or Friars, if you prefer. Dropping from about 30 points all the way down to about 13. Hmm, which team could have done something like that? Okay here are your answers:
Merrimack is the Warriors, surging up the standings and with a bright future. Lowell is the River Hawks, doing pretty well but due for a regression next season. Amherst is the Minutemen, trending down overall but more or less holding steady in the 22-point range and, we’re sure, bound to improve at some point (right guys?). And finally Providence is the Friars, that team that’s been complete garbage for two years.
If this was five years ago, Jimmy, when you wrote that story about the happiest hockey team in America, you’d have a point. Providence was positively straight-arming all the other teams that aren’t traditionally considered members of the Big Three-or-Four. It wasn’t even close. But if this was five years ago, guys that make Lowell very good, like Carter Hutton, Jeremy Dehner or Kory Falite, would still be a year away. Amherst would still be led by Marvin Degon’s 29 points instead of James Marcou’s 43. And Merrimack would be asking, “Why are you talking to me about a 15-year-old kid from Paris as though he goes here?”
Meanwhile, Providence would still be good(ish), and in a position to have Torry by-God Gajda lead them to the Promised Land. And by “Promised Land,” we mean first-round bounce-out at the hands of UNH.
But hey, Jimbo, at least your very deserving boys would’ve made the playoffs.