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Toot’s Take On This Year’s Meltdown; King Quick; Prep Playoffs

A FTT reader that goes by Bleedmaroon posted the link to this week’s hockey radio show over on UMasshoops.com and I thank him for that.  In the first 10 minutes of the show Toot is very candid about his thoughts regarding this year’s annual swoon that the team is currently finds itself in.  Take a listen yourself to the first segment of the show and hear what the coach had to say.

Now I have a lot of thoughts on this season, these players, this coaching staff, and this God-awful habit of collapsing late in the season.  But I think that’s a blog for a later date, like once the season is finished.  So therefore it might only be a few days away. 

However here are some highlights from Toot’s rant:

“The BC game (and its effort) is great to talk about but I’m really dissatisfied with the bottom line product and something needs to be done about it.”

“We gotta find a way to produce goals and find a way to get the bottom line taken care of.  There’s enough talent in this program for that to happen a whole lot more regularly than it’s happening right now.  This isn’t a talent issue and I really don’t believe, giving due credit to Len Quesnelle and Red Gendron, that it’s a coaching issue.  It’s a mentality issue.  And it’s a mentality issue that I’ll be happy to talk about for this entire program.  It’s been a mentality issue for a while but we didn’t realize it was this severe until this weekend.”

“Weak mindset and soft demeanor.  We’ve got guys who are exception to the rules.  I wouldn’t trade Brett Watson or Justin Braun for anything.  They’re the two captains and that’s the leadership end of it and I’ve been applauding their leadership skills all year long.  But sometimes some guys just stop listening.  And sometimes some guys just have an idea that they have a better way.  Or that they can compromise and do a little less than maybe what’s required.  And they thought for sure that everything was okay once we got through January and then their real disposition set in and then we’re doing exactly what’s required.  And it sickens me, quite frankly.”

“For three consecutive years it’s gone real easy (in the first half of the season).  We were #5 in the country three years ago at Christmas.  We were #12 in the country last year right after Christmas.  And we were certainly in the top ten this year.  And the second half of the year, althought it wasn’t January, we fought through that, February came around and we were 0-for-February.  And so I have a real disdain for a lack of mental toughness and there’s no other explanation than this when you look at the whole profile of the team.  The way we can skate, the way we can move it, and the type of athletes we have, for us to take a freefall as great as this it’s definitely mentality.  And the only way to conquer that is we’ll do the best we can this weekend to make this weekend work and try to grow that into maybe taking a run.  But I’ll tell you, you’re looking at a guy without a military background that’s going to learn a lot about the Navy Seals.  This will be the hardest program to play in and to stay in if you’re an athlete.  And if they don’t like it they shouldn’t come here.  And that’s what they’ve got to look forward to from here on in as long as I’m here because this is nonsense.

Brock asks him when this came about and Toot replies:

“Well I don’t think I came to total recognition until this weekend.  Until Saturday came around and we found out some news about things went on.  And we were aghast with it.  And there was nothing serious.  Minor violations, but it spoke to the team mentality.”

One wonders if this last part is referring to unconfirmed rumors that four UMass players ran into problems with the Amherst police over a noise disruption complaint over the weekend.

“There’s a reason why I call this the men’s league in January and February.  It is hard to go to practice, it’s hard to finish checks, it’s hard to block shots.  It’s hard to do this week after week after week when you look around campus and you see other guys go to class and then on Friday and Saturday nights go off with their dates and go to parties and lighten up a little bit.  It’s called entitlement.  And this country really suffers from it and unfortunately this program has shown that there’s a little bit of entitlement.  They’re great students.  They’re great ambassadors away from the campus in terms of getting involved with some social services.  I can’t take anything away from these guys on that front.  They’ve measured up.  That’s the culture we’ve tried to create.  But now we’re talking about Division I Hockey East competitive athletes.  Are you in Hockey East just to be in it?  Or are you in it to succeed and win games?  And that’s where the mental toughness and and the committment to stick-to-it-iveness has to stay in place.”

Like I said, I have a lot of thoughts about Toot and this team but I really want to hold off on a real season recap until after the season is over.  So I’m going to refrain from now.  But I’m sure when that time comes I’ll be referring back to Toot’s rant.

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In maybe a bit of good luck for the Minutemen, Rachel Lenzi, the Maine beat-writer for the Portland Press Herald, tweeted today that NCAA leading scorer Gustav Nyquist didn’t practice today for the Black Bears for reasons unknown.  What that means for the weekend I don’t know.  Speaking of Rachel Lenzi, due to to prior committment (i.e. out celebrating the end of my dismal real job and the subsequent new career beginnings) I won’t be able to give game updates for Friday on Twitter.  But Rachel does a great job with her in-game tweets, so follow her if you want to follow along to this key game.  I’ll likely be tweeting on Saturday though.

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On the heels of his silver medal, Jon Quick set the franchise record for wins for the Kings with a 5-1 victory on Tuesday.  Congrats!

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Both Mike Pereira’s Avon team and Conor Sheary’s Cushing team were victorious yesterday in the first round of the prep playoffs.  Both had a goal each in their matches.  Sheary added an assist.  They’ll now move on to the semifinals of their respective divisions on Saturday.

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