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This Week in Disrespect: Unfathomable

April 5, 2012

Imagine, if you will that you’re the head coach of an NCAA Division 1 hockey program. Now imagine receiving a ballot for the Spencer Penrose award, honoring one of your peers for a season of excellence. Further suppose that the ballot for said award reads as the following:

Nominee A
Years as HC of team: 10
Team 2012 Record: 16-16-8 (.500)
Team 2011 Record: 10-18-6 (.382)
Win percentage change from previous season: +.128

Nominee B
Years as HC of team: 18
Team 2012 Record: 31-10-8 (.750)
Team 2011 Record: 30-8-1 (.782)
Win percentage change from previous season: -.032


Nominee C
Years as HC of team: 20
Team 2012 Record: 25-11-5 (.526)
Team 2011 Record: 18-16-5 (.671)
Win percentage change from previous season: +.055

Nominee D
Years as HC of team: 1
Team 2012 Record: 16-19-4 (.462)
Team 2011 Record: 4-30-4 (.158)
Win percentage change from previous season: +.304

Nominee E
Years as HC of team: 25
Team 2012 Record: 28-13-1 (.679)
Team 2011 Record: 16-14-6 (.528)
Win percentage change from previous season: +.151

Nominee F
Years as HC of team: 1
Team 2012 Record: 24-12-1 (.645)
Team 2011 Record: 5-25-4 (.206)
Win percentage change from previous season: +.439

Nominee G
Years as HC of team: 1
Team 2012 Record: 26-7-7 (.738)
Team 2011 Record: 26-10-4 (.700)
Win percentage change from previous season: +.038

With the names omitted, who would you vote for as Coach of the Year? Let’s look at it rationally, coach by coach:

Nominee A – Coach has been in play for 10 years and managed to pull his squad up to .500? Pass.
Nominee B – Obviously a powerhouse program. Team has actually performed slightly worse than last season, but great numbers. Makes the first cut.
Nominee C – A 20-year head coach that pulled out seven more wins than last season. Nothing terribly impressive about this job; they’ve been his kids for a while. Pass.
Nominee D – New coach who took a team from the bottom of the gutter to four times as many wins? Makes the first cut.
Nominee E – Another longtime coach that seems to have improved after a so-so year. Nothing “wowing” you here. Pass.
Nominee F – First-year coach took a team from the gutter to an impressive record. Makes the first cut.
Nominee G – First-year coach took a great team and continued to play great. Logic would dictate that he’s winning with his predecessor’s players, but he did improve on it and the record is impressive. Makes the first cut.

So that leaves you with Nominees B, D, F and G. You need to trim one coach to get down to the top three.

Nominees D and F are first-year coaches who pulled teams up from the basement, so they’re in. You’re also going to give the nod to Nominee B, because while the numbers are slightly down from last season, his coach’s record the past two seasons has been ridiculous. Thus, youe’re going to select Nominee G to be the odd man out. It’s hard to judge a coaching performance from a first-year coach who inherits a team that was already playing at a very high level.

Your final ballot, then, should look like this from third to first:

3. Coach B: A juggernaut program who has been right there the past two years. Can’t give him the award, since his team actually dropped off, although it seems he should have won it last season.

2. Coach D: He took a team who managed all of four wins one giant step forward. But you can’t give the award to a coach whose team was still under .500, however.

Which leaves:
1. Coach F: One of the greatest turn-arounds that has ever graced college sports. Very deserving of said award.

Who are the coaches?

A – Ryan Soderquist, Bentley College (AH)
B – Jerry York, Boston College (HE)
C – Bob Daniels, Ferris State (CCHA)
D – Mel Pearson, Michigan Tech (WCHA)
E – Don Lucia, Minnesota (WCHA)
F – Norm Bazin, Lowell (HE)
G – Rick Bennett, Union College (ECAC)

We’d be tinkled pink to report to everyone that this is exactly how the voting turned out. But — and please, sit down before reading this — the powers that be decided to disrespect Lowell, the program, our beloved Stormin’ Norm Bazin and everything we love, simply to spite us. In a vote so mind-boggling it makes the 2000 Presidential Election make perfect sense, Bazin did NOT, in fact, win the Spencer Penrose award as the NCAA Division 1 Hockey Coach of the Year. The award was instead handed to Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels, in what we can only assume was a cornucopia of back-room deals, secret handshakes and pleading phone calls from Jack Parker to coaches who feel their jobs are very threatened indeed by this Division 3 upstart, who turned a bad team into a great one in one season flat.

Look, we readily admit that Lowell is awesome (All Praise to Lowell) and that we’re pro-Lowell through and through. However this snub is so ludicrous that even the neutralest of parties have been left shaking their heads, increasingly nervous about the possibility that if an absolute truth such as Bazin getting the Penrose can be disproven, how can natural physics be far behind?

Understand this: Jerry York is the greatest coach in the history of college hockey (despite what the schmucks at Michigan State or BU have to say on the matter) and is a living legend. Facts are facts. But as is the case in most sports, amateur and professional, the Coach of the Year award is almost always given to the coach who demonstrates the ability to improve his team from season to season. When faced with that criteria, we feel ranking Bazin and Pearson was absolutely correct and painfully apparent. Michigan Tech has been a train wreck going on three seasons, and Pearson did a marvelous job. Bazin’s was even better.

Norm Bazin inherited a River Hawk team that was literally the worst in the history of the program. The worst. Ever. And while fans and alumni were excited for Bazin’s arrival, there were zero-point-zero expectations for this first season behind the bench. Fans were rewarded with the most exciting season, in our mind, in River Hawk history. From the worst to nearly the best in the span of one year. Amazing.

Yet, to the voters of the Spencer Penrose, Bazin’s accomplishments were not nearly as impressive as increasing your win percentage from .526 to .671. Yup, hell of a job there by Daniels. We’re sure he’s a fine coach, but this whole situation smacks of college hockey coaches honoring one of their longtime members at the expense of the new guy who, you know, actually deserved the award.

It’s too bad the ballots aren’t released to the public, because it would be interesting to see which coaches across the country are actually this stupid. We’re sure Bob Daniels has many friends from the East to the West, and we imagine he swept the CCHA and WCHA votes in what was assuredly a big middle finger to the East, where college hockey’s true power lies. Having Bazin and York both make the finalists list obviously hurt Bazin’s chances, especially when you consider a puke like Nate Leaman probably backed his former assistant at Union, and Jack Parker called in several favors and holds compromising pictures of other coaches to be sure that if he can’t win, no Hockey East coach will either.

As upset as we are with the way things turned out, it doesn’t take anything away from the season. If nothing else, Bazin has gotten an extra dose of the venomous disrespect he can expect to dodge throughout his stay in the Mill City, long may it be. As it drives us to keep up the good fight, we so hope it will supercharge him with renewed vigor for the upcoming season.

And next year, his enemies will die screaming.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Monty permalink
    April 5, 2012 12:22 pm

    Shocking, to say the least.

  2. Lowell permalink
    August 31, 2012 11:51 am

    Not to be ungrateful or anything, but when are we going to get some posts up in here?

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