Saturday, February 28, 2009

Eaves Still Man For The Job

After the 2006 championship, I would be lying to you if I said I planned on having to write this article a mere 3 seasons later. After missing the tournament completely in 2007, barely sneaking into it last season, and virtually needing to win the WCHA Final Five to gain entrance this season, Mike Eaves job security has been put in question by many.

It's funny how fast people forget the good but can recall the bad so quick. In "Confessions of a Winning Poker Player," Jack King said, "Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career." The same applies to the Wisconsin Badger hockey team. A mere 3 weeks ago the Badgers were in Minneapolis, finishing off sweeping the Gophers. After that, most fan's were planning on the guys in red making a play for the WCHA title, as well as hoping for more in the NCAA tournament. 3 straight loses later, and the fans are riding Eaves HARD.

Don't get me wrong, if you think I'm ignorant and haven't questioned Eaves at times, your wrong. I've disagreed with some of Eaves recruiting tactics and targets at times, and I've called him out about it on here as well as message boards. The fact still remains the same, Mike Eaves is the best option for the University of Wisconsin.

It's funny sometimes you forget the impeccable resume that Mike Eaves dons. Have we all forgotten the gold medal that Eaves brought home from the 2004 World Junior Championship in Finland? It still stands as the United States only gold medal in the 28 year history of the prestigious tournament. Have we forgotten that we were an OT goal away from a frozen 4 birth in Eaves second season? Have we forgotten that Zach Parise has said publicly that not only would he have possibly gone to Wisconsin had Wisconsin had Eaves in place when he committed, but that Eaves was the best coach he's EVER played for. Have we forgot about about the 2006 National Championship? Have we forgotten that the Anaheim Ducks drafted 3 future badgers in the 2008 draft because of the development that players get in Eaves pro style systems? Have we forgotten that we were an OT goal away from getting to the frozen four last season?

The fact still remains, that if you replace Mike Eaves, you will not find a replacement that is better than him. You will not find a replacement that is going to garner the respect from his players that he receives. You are not going to find a replacement that hits the recruiting trail as hard as they currently do. You are not going to find a replacement with the NHL connections that Eaves has. You will not find a replacement that can fill his shoes.

Every team has rough patches. It's bound to happen. Am I pissed that Wisconsin put it self in this position this season? Of course I am. If those two OT games against Maine and North Dakota in the regionals fall our way, and Eaves goes to 3 frozen fours in 6 years, and wins a title, are we still having this discussion? Yeah, we probably still are, because people are greedy. People don't realize how good they have it sometimes.

Mike Eaves is in his 7th season at Wisconsin, do you guys realize that Red Berenson at Michigan didn't even make the NCAA tournament until his 7th season? (Yeah obviously there are more teams in the tournament now) Do you realize that it took Berenson 11 years to win a championship? I can do this all day...who else do you think are the best coaches in the nation? It took Gwoz at Denver 10 years to win a title. Jerry York, it took him 7 seasons to win a title at BC. Jackie Parker won a title in his 5th sason, and it took him 17 seasons after that to gain another. I still think Parker is a pretty good coach and I bet you do as well. You guys remember how long it took Eaves to win a title...4 years.

Mike Eaves is going no where and thats a good thing. He's one of the best coaches in college hockey and we are lucky to have him coaching for us. I'm not jumping off this bandwagon and I hope you aren't either. This team has the potential to do great things. There is still time left in this season to make things happen. Will it be the easy road? Obviously not. But I've seen greater miracles in the world. Let's take care of business tonight, take care of business next weekend when the Sioux come to town, and we'll see where we are at.

Photo by AJ Maclean