Can Minnesota Regain it's Blue Blood Hockey Pedigree?

Otis

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 13, 2014
Messages
3,500
Reaction score
364
Points
83
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Boston College, Boston University, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan.

These schools used to be the cream of college hockey and seemed to account for the Frozen Four participants on a yearly basis. Expansion of NCAA hockey teams and conference realignment have caused some of the Blue Bloods to carry less oxygen in their programs and fall back to the herd. At the same time, schools like St. Cloud and UMD have been able to wrest away some of the luster previously exclusively enjoyed by our beloved Gophers.

Can we get it back? Is it even possible in the current environment? Consider the following before you weigh in:

1. Minnesota used to have 2 NCAA hockey teams, now we have 5 with the addition of St. Cloud, Mankato, and Bemidji. The Gophers used to be able to pick the best players every year and reload the team no matter how many we lost to the NHL. Now kids can go party at St. Cloud State, or pick one of the other 3 schools to get the best situation for them. In some cases, one could argue other schools have better NHL exposure to off than the Gophers!

2. The B1G hockey conference has been bad. Really bad for the Gophers. Instead of competing against the best of the best in the former WCHA with annual showdowns with UND, UMD, Wisconsin, Colorado, CC, and the rest. We play against B1G teams Hockey fans of yore have had little exposure to. Ohio State, Penn State and Notre Dame just don't resonate the way the "Fighting Sioux" do for a hockey rivalry. Interest has waned as we cruised to winning the first 7 B1G championships with teams that were hardly battle hardened the way the WCHA prepared the Gophers for the NCAAs. Now, teams like Penn State have figured out how to recruit Canadian Men to play against our more skilled Minnesota boys and have success. Not sure how this is going to be turned around with the NHL consistently picking our best prospects in the draft.

So how do we overcome these new obstacles? Motzko was a good start.
 

bonin21

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
685
Reaction score
92
Points
28
UMD is the best program in the country the last 10 years no question. But the U should fairly easily be able to get to that 2nd best spot before starting to compete with UMD again.

It will not be easy to overcome, and we'll need to win uphill battles for some recruits like Maddox Fleming against UND and UMD. No one really likes the Big Ten, and players don't want to play in front of an empty arena. So ticket prices have to come down and the U has to pray the Gophers start winning more games.

We can pray for a "super conference" where UMN and uw get back with rivals fans actually care about, which would be better for everyone overall.

There is only one recruit lined up that is not Minnesotan. Many fans including me like this direction. If you're going to get a non-MN kid, I want it to be a star. Think Vanek, Haula, Ranta, and this Knies kid looks of the potential star ilk. Maybe the players will play with more pride in the program when they are mostly Minnesotan.

The defensive recruiting has been PATHETIC. Since Reilly and Skjei left there has only been one D man with a 25+ point season, and he only did it once. The Gophers lose 2 Edina kids this summer that are pretty bad overall, and Motzko will continue to bring in kids that can skate but also have some skill with the puck.
 

Gophers1992

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
170
Reaction score
149
Points
43
People forget that this program led the NCAA in wins from 2011-2015, and played in a NC game in 2014. Yes, our expectations are higher, and 15+ years without a title is disappointing, but my point is that it's not like we've been in the dumps for a crazy long period of time, as many make it seem. Hats off to UMD for the run they've had, and I don't think they're going away soon, but top recruits still want to play here, and the M on the sweater still means a lot to many.

I was a defender of Lucia for the most part, but he became a bit stale in the last few years, which isn't unusual. I believe Bob is the guy to bring us back to the top. If he turned SCSU into a strong program, he can do great things here. Win, and the fans will come. If people want to stop being fans because of the conference we play in, then don't let the door hit you on the way out I say.
 

bonin21

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
685
Reaction score
92
Points
28
Well they are not letting the door hit them on the way out... And we're left with a dwindling STH base and half empty arena. Have any casual conversation with family or friends about Gopher hockey and the public's most common thing they always talk about is "The Big Ten ruined everything." That is the public perception and it might take an NCAA championship to get people to think otherwise. Obviously those that follow hockey know there is more to it than that (mainly Lucia being held onto too long). And people just say "accept it" instead of trying to come up with something creative. That's how you run a business into the ground.

In the end, you just have to win. 11-12 - 14-15 was great, but 07-08 - 10-11 was horrible so 8 (potentially soon to be 9) of the last 12 (13) seasons have been rough.

If the Gophers start putting up 20 win seasons again and win a title in the next 5 years before UND (8) and maybe even UMD (3) start to pull away from our 5 we'll be fine.
 

Gophers1992

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
170
Reaction score
149
Points
43
Well they are not letting the door hit them on the way out... And we're left with a dwindling STH base and half empty arena. Have any casual conversation with family or friends about Gopher hockey and the public's most common thing they always talk about is "The Big Ten ruined everything." That is the public perception and it might take an NCAA championship to get people to think otherwise. Obviously those that follow hockey know there is more to it than that (mainly Lucia being held onto too long). And people just say "accept it" instead of trying to come up with something creative. That's how you run a business into the ground.

In the end, you just have to win. 11-12 - 14-15 was great, but 07-08 - 10-11 was horrible so 8 (potentially soon to be 9) of the last 12 (13) seasons have been rough.

If the Gophers start putting up 20 win seasons again and win a title in the next 5 years before UND (8) and maybe even UMD (3) start to pull away from our 5 we'll be fine.
Fair points, but we don't need a full arena to win games. We all want to see a better atmosphere at the games, but this program can win titles in front of empty or full crowds. Either way winning will solve a lot of issues.
 

bonin21

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
685
Reaction score
92
Points
28
Fair points, but we don't need a full arena to win games. We all want to see a better atmosphere at the games, but this program can win titles in front of empty or full crowds. Either way winning will solve a lot of issues.
Top recruits don't want to play in an empty arena...
 

Gophers1992

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
170
Reaction score
149
Points
43
Top recruits don't want to play in an empty arena...
From what I can tell recruiting is still very strong right now, and the empty arena thing has been going on for a while now. UMD and St. Cloud aren't filling their arenas much more than we are, if at all (especially if you factor in capacity). Sure UND has and will forever have this leg up on us, but it's not as if every top recruit is flocking to Grand Forks either.
 

bonin21

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
685
Reaction score
92
Points
28
From what I can tell recruiting is still very strong right now, and the empty arena thing has been going on for a while now. UMD and St. Cloud aren't filling their arenas much more than we are, if at all (especially if you factor in capacity). Sure UND has and will forever have this leg up on us, but it's not as if every top recruit is flocking to Grand Forks either.
UND's recruiting is always good. They might have two first round D men coming in next year. UMD is bringing in Biondi and Kaiser.

The real test will be coming up. There is a ton of MN talent in the same age group, topped by Maddox Fleming. He has to be the Gophers #1 target and probably also the #1 target for UND, UMD, and many more.

Let's see who Motzko gets from Fleming, Snuggerud, Clark, Chesley, Stramel, and more.
 

KillmeNow

Banned
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Messages
1,450
Reaction score
104
Points
63
Well they are not letting the door hit them on the way out... And we're left with a dwindling STH base and half empty arena. Have any casual conversation with family or friends about Gopher hockey and the public's most common thing they always talk about is "The Big Ten ruined everything." That is the public perception and it might take an NCAA championship to get people to think otherwise. Obviously those that follow hockey know there is more to it than that (mainly Lucia being held onto too long). And people just say "accept it" instead of trying to come up with something creative. That's how you run a business into the ground.

In the end, you just have to win. 11-12 - 14-15 was great, but 07-08 - 10-11 was horrible so 8 (potentially soon to be 9) of the last 12 (13) seasons have been rough.

If the Gophers start putting up 20 win seasons again and win a title in the next 5 years before UND (8) and maybe even UMD (3) start to pull away from our 5 we'll be fine.

You constantly blame Lucia when it was not his fault. 11-12 to 14-15 were as good as they were BECAUSE of Lucia figuring out what the problem was and adapting his recruiting to the new paradigm.

07-08 to 10-11 sucked the way they did because of the NHL's stripping the team of much of the talent on it's roster. Basically after winning back to back titles, Lucia recruited TOO WELL, think Kessel, Okposa & Leddy, all left after just one full season(as KO didn't finish his 2nd). The same thing happened to Michigan after their 2 titles in the late 90s and it even happened to UND to a degree after Blais's 2 titles at UND. Same thing happened to Denver after their 2 titles. Look it up, the pattern is very similar with every successful blue blood program.

And this paradigm shift in college hockey allowed smaller schools with experienced rosters to take turns having great tourney runs. I've done the research, I know what I'm talking about, I posted what I found here back when you and others were going around calling for Lucia's head. You just have never cared about knowing the truth, you have an idea you are comfortable with and it has been easier for you to just keep believing your bullsh1t idea.


Is that the whole story? No, of course not. The creation of the B1G didn't help, but that was hardly Lucia's fault. Increasing ticket prices? Was that Lucia's doing, too? He was not perfect, so I'm sure some of the blame should rest on his shoulders, but if not for all of the other factors going against the team, he probably could have continued succeeding and winning titles for decades.
 

Otis

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 13, 2014
Messages
3,500
Reaction score
364
Points
83
Killme is pretty spot on! You could make a pretty damn successful team in the NHL with the kids Lucia lost early. Recruiting has been pretty decent with the top recruits but we used to get the guys a little under the radar that developed into NHL talent during their 3 or 4 years at the U. With the bigger mixing bowl, it seems that we are missing out on some of these guys who really end up being the structure of the program that when combined with a few 1 or 2 and done players create a National Championship contending team.

We need to improve on development for the players like Fleck and Kill increased the development of the football team. Get kids who know they will become NHL talent and get a chance at the big time. Not just the kids who where drafted while they were still in High School.

As for ticket prices, Hockey has always been the most expensive ticket in town! Back when we sold out regularly people didn't mind shelling out to see the awesome product we had and watch the Gophers play the Badgers, Sioux, Bulldogs and such. Do I want to shell out cash to see Penn State and Ohio State? I still struggle to believe they even have teams. Let alone teams that can actually beat us.

We are stuck with our joke hockey league because the league in all other sports is a money making machine. Want to sell more tickets? Schedule BC, UND, UMD, BU, Denver, Bemidji, Mankato and Harvard for your non-conference. Those are the teams kids want to play against. Those are the teams people will pay to see.

Of course you need to be able to compete with them.

And why don't we have an annual Battle for Minnesota Holiday Tournament with the other NCAA schools? It would be awesome! Play it at Target Field or TCF Stadium. All Minnesota Teams playing outdoors the way the game was invented would be huge!
 

bonin21

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
685
Reaction score
92
Points
28
Lol the guy will defend Lucia even after he's gone and it's clear we should have hired Motzko (or someone else) at least a year sooner. He brought us two titles, he didn't like the Big Ten, and he won a lot of games. Great coach. But the message was stale for multiple years at the end. Interesting that he is over on the other board defending Pitino. Then he will get let go, the Gophers will end up in a better place, and he won't admit he was wrong.

Regarding MN tournament, they kind of did that this year. It doesn't get as much hype as conference games would but it at least keeps those teams on the schedule. Also, one outdoor game for the Gophers was enough. Most of us don't want another one ever. It was GD freezing and you could barely see the puck, and the level of play on the outdoor ice was hurt by the conditions.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
6,141
Reaction score
210
Points
63
We already did the North Star College Cup at the X. It didn't catch on even with the added attraction of the Grand Day Parade :) . And, I agree that one mid-winter outdoor game was enough.

Our problems are coaching and recruiting. Atmosphere and conferences barely make my list.
 

Gophers1992

Active member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
170
Reaction score
149
Points
43
UND's recruiting is always good. They might have two first round D men coming in next year. UMD is bringing in Biondi and Kaiser.

The real test will be coming up. There is a ton of MN talent in the same age group, topped by Maddox Fleming. He has to be the Gophers #1 target and probably also the #1 target for UND, UMD, and many more.

Let's see who Motzko gets from Fleming, Snuggerud, Clark, Chesley, Stramel, and more.
My point is that I haven't seen evidence that the empty arena is killing recruiting, and that UND is apparently the only program immune to attendance drops, and it's not like every top recruit can/will go to UND.
 

bonin21

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
685
Reaction score
92
Points
28
On a fan-centric note, prices for next season have come down 100-200 bucks for most of the arena. Progress is all we can ask and this is a good move.
 

PMWinSTP

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 11, 2015
Messages
9,094
Reaction score
476
Points
83
People forget that this program led the NCAA in wins from 2011-2015, and played in a NC game in 2014. Yes, our expectations are higher, and 15+ years without a title is disappointing, but my point is that it's not like we've been in the dumps for a crazy long period of time, as many make it seem. Hats off to UMD for the run they've had, and I don't think they're going away soon, but top recruits still want to play here, and the M on the sweater still means a lot to many.

I was a defender of Lucia for the most part, but he became a bit stale in the last few years, which isn't unusual. I believe Bob is the guy to bring us back to the top. If he turned SCSU into a strong program, he can do great things here. Win, and the fans will come. If people want to stop being fans because of the conference we play in, then don't let the door hit you on the way out I say.
Great post. Won't take much to get back to that level.
 

#2Gopher

Well-known member
Joined
May 18, 2010
Messages
5,545
Reaction score
471
Points
83
While we lost the series this weekend to Michigan, I was pleased how physical we've gotten compared to the past where it seemed like we were being pushed around night after night.

Have a little monkey on our back right now. Hopefully we can rebound during the upcoming tournaments.
 

Lady Gopher

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2019
Messages
49
Reaction score
28
Points
18
So disappointed in the apparent lack of effort tonight. We are to get home ice next week. I’ll be there cheering and hope each player comes to play
 

Veritas

Banned
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
2,064
Reaction score
573
Points
113
UMD is the best program in the country the last 10 years no question. But the U should fairly easily be able to get to that 2nd best spot before starting to compete with UMD again.

It will not be easy to overcome, and we'll need to win uphill battles for some recruits like Maddox Fleming against UND and UMD. No one really likes the Big Ten, and players don't want to play in front of an empty arena. So ticket prices have to come down and the U has to pray the Gophers start winning more games.

We can pray for a "super conference" where UMN and uw get back with rivals fans actually care about, which would be better for everyone overall.

There is only one recruit lined up that is not Minnesotan. Many fans including me like this direction. If you're going to get a non-MN kid, I want it to be a star. Think Vanek, Haula, Ranta, and this Knies kid looks of the potential star ilk. Maybe the players will play with more pride in the program when they are mostly Minnesotan.

The defensive recruiting has been PATHETIC. Since Reilly and Skjei left there has only been one D man with a 25+ point season, and he only did it once. The Gophers lose 2 Edina kids this summer that are pretty bad overall, and Motzko will continue to bring in kids that can skate but also have some skill with the puck.
I'm sorry, the Gophers are going to leave the Big Ten? How? Why? Why give up $54 million each and every year in return for what?
 

bonin21

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
685
Reaction score
92
Points
28
I'm sorry, the Gophers are going to leave the Big Ten? How? Why? Why give up $54 million each and every year in return for what?
Better players and people at the games maybe
 

Veritas

Banned
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
2,064
Reaction score
573
Points
113
Better players and people at the games maybe
$54,000,000 per year. 5,000 additional fans paying $1,000 each per year equals $5,000,000 per year. Net loss $49,000,000 per year and that is not counting the losses which would be incurred in football and basketball and all other team sports for leaving the Big Ten. Great plan.
 

bonin21

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
685
Reaction score
92
Points
28
$54,000,000 per year. 5,000 additional fans paying $1,000 each per year equals $5,000,000 per year. Net loss $49,000,000 per year and that is not counting the losses which would be incurred in football and basketball and all other team sports for leaving the Big Ten. Great plan.
I assume this 54MM number you're throwing out is what they get from the Big Ten as a program and not because of hockey. No one is saying Minnesota should leave the Big Ten as a whole lol. Big Ten hockey isn't contributing squat to the Big Ten's overall bottom line. Any good business should look for ways to innovate, and if they want hockey to be a thing they will need to be creative and come up with a cross-conference scheduling agreement or something.
 

Veritas

Banned
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
2,064
Reaction score
573
Points
113
I assume this 54MM number you're throwing out is what they get from the Big Ten as a program and not because of hockey. No one is saying Minnesota should leave the Big Ten as a whole lol. Big Ten hockey isn't contributing squat to the Big Ten's overall bottom line. Any good business should look for ways to innovate, and if they want hockey to be a thing they will need to be creative and come up with a cross-conference scheduling agreement or something.
I think you do not understand that the U is required, if they have an intercollegiate hockey program, to play in the Big Ten if the Big Ten has a hockey conference. There is no choice other than to leave the Big Ten. This was extensively discused at the time the Big Ten Hockey League was formed. We have no choice so there is no value to whining about it.
 

2nd Degree Gopher

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
1,043
Reaction score
98
Points
48
I assume this 54MM number you're throwing out is what they get from the Big Ten as a program and not because of hockey. No one is saying Minnesota should leave the Big Ten as a whole lol. Big Ten hockey isn't contributing squat to the Big Ten's overall bottom line. Any good business should look for ways to innovate, and if they want hockey to be a thing they will need to be creative and come up with a cross-conference scheduling agreement or something.
Big Ten hockey is here to stay and, as long as it exists, conference members are going to be required to participate. While the ratings aren't big, there is value to the BTN to have live programming on winter weekends beyond basketball. I do like your idea of some type of cross-conference scheduling as a way to mix things up.

Eventually, Illinois and maybe even Iowa will add hockey. That might not do much for the quality of the hockey in the short run, but would open up the possibility of more diverse scheduling since a true round-robin schedule wouldn't seem feasible in a conference with two more teams.
 

bonin21

Active member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
685
Reaction score
92
Points
28
Unfortunately, no one will care much about Illinois and Iowa, but at least they will be reasonable road trips which are a massive reason the Big Ten is failing for fans.

People will be more excited to play UST in a few years. They will have many Minnesotans on the team and there is a cross town and public vs private angle.
 

PMWinSTP

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 11, 2015
Messages
9,094
Reaction score
476
Points
83
I'm sorry, the Gophers are going to leave the Big Ten? How? Why? Why give up $54 million each and every year in return for what?
The loss of some key rivalry games has had an impact. When the Gophs/NoDak game in Las Vegas sells out almost immediately, you know not having those series is impacting actual attendance and to a lesser extent, overall ticket sales.
 

PMWinSTP

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 11, 2015
Messages
9,094
Reaction score
476
Points
83
Unfortunately, no one will care much about Illinois and Iowa, but at least they will be reasonable road trips which are a massive reason the Big Ten is failing for fans.

People will be more excited to play UST in a few years. They will have many Minnesotans on the team and there is a cross town and public vs private angle.
Northwestern and Illinois should add hockey as I think they could have pretty competitive teams after 3-4 years of recruiting. Plenty of good players in that area and Northwestern could recruit like Irish, Boston College and the Ivy league teams.
 
Top Bottom