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Two Minutes’ Hate: Into the Friar

March 21, 2013

Pop quiz: Name the most famous friar you can think of.

The answer that comes to mind for most is, of course, Friar Tuck from the legend of Robin Hood. Ah, but who was Friar Tuck? A drunk and a thief, that’s who. A supposed man of the cloth who harbored known terrorists of his time period, wanted criminals and known traitors to the crown, who by the way were dodging all those drafts for the Crusades. The second most-popular answer? Tomas deTorquemada, Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition; known torturer and murderer of thousands of innocents, and who expelled the Jewish people from Spain.

My, that’s a lovely family tree you have, Providence.

Of course, that doesn’t really get to the root of the issue. Such as, what is a friar in the first place? Fair question. A friar is nothing more than a monk with commitment issues. “Whoa, I sort of, kind of want to devote my life to God and live a meager existence, but this whole cloistered thing… is there like a monk-light?” And thus the friar was created, giving those who mostly feel the call to do God’s work but are a little iffy on some of the particulars a backdoor shortcut path to a barely-earned eternal salvation. It’s the “getting a D+” of being called to the faith. Yeah, you passed, but your mom isn’t exactly proud of you.

Thus, it is of little coincidence that Providence College uses the friar as its mascot. As a friar is not quite as devout as a monk, Providence College is not quite up to snuff with “that other” Catholic college a few miles north. And of course we mean Merrimack.

Indeed, the two schools share quite a bit more than their Catholic tradition. Both play in rinks that would humiliate a struggling bantam squad if forced to call them “home.” Both clubs have young, highly touted coaches that are not fit to carry Norm Bazin’s backup clipboard. Both manage to recruit (for some unknown reason) decent skills players whose careers are routinely wasted toiling on inferior teams. And finally, both schools are notoriously bad at hockey. But we think to really delve properly into what makes Providence such a vile part of Hockey East, you need to get past the embarrassing etymology of its mascot, and even its closest comparable, and right to the heart of the issue: Geography.

The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. An absurdly long name for a state with nothing upon which to hang its hat, which has been run over by a streetcar. This was the state that willingly gave noted blockhead Curt Schilling $75 million of taxpayer money to develop what was by all accounts a video game so bad it makes Shaq Fu look like Super Mario Bros. 3, and then acted as if it had been betrayed by the surest of sure things when the company filed for bankruptcy because it turns out a fat video game nerd who just happened to throw a baseball well didn’t know how to run a multi-million dollar company. This is the state in which residents will proudly boast about the famed Newport Creamery restaurants, home of the Awful Awful milkshake, an apt moniker that’s frankly not applied liberally enough within the Ocean State’s borders. We’ve unfortunately been to the Newport Creamery, and it’s nothing more than a low-rent, lower-quality Friendly’s, which is saying something. Friendly’s is the Amherst of New England family chain restaurants, edging out even Bickford’s Grille. The famed Awful Awful? A watered-down Fribble. Not that the palate of Rhode Island residents should be used as any sort of metric, but these people honestly believe the I-talian restaurants of Federal Hill rival those of Boston’s famed North End. Simply ludicrous.

The City of Providence itself has even less to be proud of, other than its fortunate adjacency to Massachusetts. We’re talking about a city that re-elected known felon Buddy Cianci to a second stint as Mayor (lasting 11 years) before federal charges finally forced him out of office. Hollywood couldn’t fabricate that kind of corruption. And in the middle of this mediocre metropolitan mosh pit lies Providence College. It’s impossible to miss; it’s the only set of buildings for blocks that don’t have boarded-up windows spray-painted with the latest in street slang noting just how badly Mark Jankowski has disappointed everyone, and surrounded oil drums roaring on street corners to keep the locals warm.

In fact, the hockey talent in Rhode Island on the whole is pathetic. We’re not even talking about the home-grown excuse for talent, but actually the colleges that skate in Div. 1. Providence College and Brown? Ugh. Who knew you could have a void that large in the smallest state in the union? That has to be the worst hockey state, bar none — and we say this with full realization that Alabama-Huntsville exists. They’re really just fortunate they’re the only two programs within those puny borders; that way they can boast of being the BC and Lowell of their state, but we all know the awful truth is they’re also the AIC and Amherst.

Just to push that point along to its logical conclusion, the current Providence College team is rife with trash-pile pickups and weak-willed scoundrels who turned their back on commitments for what we can only assume are nefarious reasons. The only player on the roster skilled enough to even ride the pine at Lowell would be second-team all-rookie goalie Jon Gilles, who was so desperate to escape his commitment to Northeastern (not that we blame him, mind you) that he was preparing to suit up for Div. 3 Wentworth until the Friars came knocking. Gillies is a netminder so bad that in a league with only two rookie goaltenders worth mentioning, he wasn’t even a unanimous selection. And we’re sure he only made the team at all because Dick Umile, Tim Whitehead, and Jack Parker forgot how to spell “Marotta.”

The rest of the team? Untalented as they are unremarkable. Derek Army? A constant reminder to the rest of the program that the sins of the father must be repaid. Tim Schaller? Gets hurt getting out of bed in the morning. Ross Mauermann? We can only assume a deal was struck with some kind of foul otherworldly spirit (Joe Bertagna) to grant him his minor successes against the River Hawks. We find joy in the ultimate irony that this group of stiffs plays in a building fittingly referred to as The Coffin. It’s an arena with sightlines so bad one has to accept they were deliberately constructed with humanity in mind; it was only built that way so Providence fans would never have to see more than 30 uninterrupted seconds of their team’s unfortunate play, less they be struck deaf and dumb with madness and grief.

Which brings us to the Charon of this crew, head coach Nate Leaman. Another known turncoat, Leaman left Union for the money this deeply corrupt college cared to throw at him so quickly his office chair is still spinning to this day. For reasons we’ve tried unsuccessfully and ad nauseam to comprehend, and as detailed in a recent This Week in Disrespect, Leaman is often compared to soon-to-be two time Hockey East Coach of the Year Norm Bazin. Other than being hired during the same offseason and being hockey coaches, there is virtually no metric by which these two men are remotely similar. One has enjoyed unparalleled success in his first two years, including a 48-23-3 record (a 64.8 winning percentage), two seasons of home ice for the quarterfinals, a Hockey East regular season championship and what is assured to be two consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. The other is Nate Leaman. There’s not much to compare when you lay out the facts. Norm Bazin is Macy’s to Nate Leaman’s Gimbels. And Gimbels is long gone.

And so it was, though, that the fates saw fit to bring together these two teams for their 10th meeting in two seasons, so that the hockey world at large could once again draw these absurd comparisons and once again wholly fail to grasp just how thick it makes them look. The fact of the matter is there’s one successful team in this semifinal, and only one that should really put the fear of God into the other teams still standing. And it sure as Amherst isn’t Providence. We will say, though, that the most appropriate thing about that team is that their road jerseys, which they will wear tomorrow as the lower seed in the tournament, are as black as Bertagna’s heart. All the better to skulk back into the shadows of rightful obscurity from whence they first slouched low and rough, but not before Lowell doles out an encore of that fateful Saturday night in Providence’s richly-deserved pounding.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Steven permalink
    March 21, 2013 7:06 am

    Tool for sure. Thanks for taking the time in your day to dissect Providence.

  2. Monty permalink
    March 21, 2013 1:58 pm

    Apparently this was so bad that Steven took time out of his life to post how bad it was both here and on USCHO.

    • steve permalink
      March 21, 2013 2:21 pm

      exactly, just exposing the clown.

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