The coach of the year vote

Did you know: Zero of the last nine WCHA coach of the year winners have won a game in the NCAA tournament (including co-winners).

The last time a coach won the award, then went on to win an NCAA tournament game, it was George Gwozdecky and Denver in 2005.

Did you know: Troy Jutting + Jamie Russell, both of whom were fired in the last two years, have combined for more WCHA coach of the year awards than Dave Hakstol + Don Lucia (at Minn) + Mike Eaves + Scott Owens?

Indeed, Jutting won two, Russell has one, while both Hakstol and Lucia (at Minnesota) have just one.

Did you know: During Michigan Tech’s current 31-year NCAA tournament drought, Tech has more coach of the year awards than Minnesota (3-2).

Did you know: In three of the last six years, a coach of the year did not even make the NCAA tournament in that season.

Did you know: If Minnesota State’s Mike Hastings wins coach of the year this year, which I think he probably will, it will be the fourth coach of the year award for the Mavericks in the last 14 years — more than any WCHA team.

So, what exactly does this tell us?

That if you want to be considered the best coach in the league, you better make sure to have some bad years mixed in?

I think that people examine which team overachieves the most. And that’s a fine approach to take. I agree that factors like jumping in the standings and overcoming adversity should be part of the consideration.

But so should coaches who assemble great rosters and produce with those great rosters. Isn’t that part of a coach’s job?

Is Hastings a legit choice this year? Yes. MSU will almost surely be a home ice and an NCAA tournament team. Depending on how everything shakes out the final week, he may end up getting my vote.

My question is: How is Bob Motzko being so overlooked? Nobody’s really talking about him as a candidate, but he’s got all the elements.

First in the standings? Check. It’s not a guarantee they finish there, but there’s definitely a good chance, and that’s enough to warrant a vote right there.

If you want more factors, St. Cloud State will have jumped five spots in the WCHA standings from sixth to first. That’s the same jump MSU will have made if they finish sixth (of course MSU could still win the league, which would make this a no-brainer).

Motzko also had to deal with losses of Mike Lee, Cam Reid and David Eddy — all of whom would have been key players on this team.

I’ll be holding my vote until Sunday, when we can see how everything finished up. But I think it’s OK to vote for the coach of the league champion team, even if they were expected to win it.

I realize that circumstances are different in different places (it’s harder to win a MacNaughton Cup in Mankato or Bemidji than Minneapolis). But should Jutting have more coach of the years than Lucia, Hakstol, Eaves and Owens? Should Mel Pearson, who finished eighth and likely 10th or 11th in two years, have the same number as those guys?

I’m not sure.

What say you?

10 thoughts on “The coach of the year vote

  1. Hak should have won it last year. Losing the Pony Express,shorthanded all year,wins the Broadmoor. Robbed I tell ya. #SuccessfulProgramBias

    • Completely agree that Hak should have won last year. Coaching 17 skaters, some of whom were walk-ons, to the 2nd round of the NCAA tourney was very impressive. I honestly think it may have been Hak’s best coaching job thus far in his career. I think Brad is right though, when the bar is set low and expectations are not high, it’s easy to think someone was an excellent coach that year. Not to say that Hastings has been bad, but having to live up to (and succeeding) high expectations every year cannot be easy (Hak, Don, Eaves, Gwoz)..

  2. No disrespect to Jutting or MSU, they have a great staff, but he didn’t recruit any of their current roster. He is benefitting from having a good young team that is growing and getting stronger. I don’t think a new coach should be considered for the award unless they do something remarkable like win the conference.
    My short list would include Motzko, Gwozdecky (around Christmas time that team looked like they were all going to quit on him), and Eaves (turning a season into a winner).

  3. I would vote for Hakstol if he was at any other program except minn and had the same results. Or, if he got rid of REA and the 14 NHL dpicks we have every year and had the same results.

  4. I agree that Motzko should be the leading candidate this year. If SCSU wins the WCHA, I think it would be their first, so its not like he took over a program that had a greate winning tradition. Although Brad predicted SCSU would be good this year, I’m not sure that was a widely held belief. So, with SCSU potentially winning the regular season, the body of work is there to support Motzko. Also, while there are a few top end players at SCSU, the roster is also young showing that the success this year wasn’t just handed to him – there are a lot of good WCHA teams SCSU had to top.

  5. The coach of the year at any level and sport tends to be awarded to a coach who has helped a program/organization rebound or make significant strides in a short period of time. Sometimes the honor is given to an accomplished coach with a full resume and championships.It happens so rarely it’s almost a a token recognition. It’s like saying, “we know you’re a great coach and you don’t really need a coach of the year honor to validate your abilities and success, but here you go!
    But I agree that successful coaches at great programs need to be recognized. They don’t win just by accident. Their coaching is more about living up to expectations, getting talented players to buy into a system, play a role, share ice time.
    It’s kind of the Paul Newman effect. How many times was he nominated for Best Actor and never won it. He made acting look too easy, so the Academy gave the honor to others. And then when Newman was getting to the end of his acting career, they finally gave him his Oscar (I believe for The Color of Money).

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