Media Day Thoughts; Congrats Brock

Coach "Toot" Cahoon talks to the media at the 2010 Hockey East Media Day.

I had the opportunity to attend Hockey East media day today and damn am I ready for hockey season to begin.  First off I just want to say thanks to the Hockey East and UMass media relations folks for arranging for me to attend and of course thanks to Coach Cahoon and the players for taking the time to speak with me.

Most of the interview material I’ll probably save for my Hockey East preview (tomorrow) and team preview (Friday).  I’ll probably post a miscellaneous interview blog somewhere down the road for the interesting material that doesn’t get into either preview.  I will say that I enjoyed speaking with all the captains and came away thinking that this team has some pretty good leadership to it this coming season.

At the event they released the Hockey East coaches poll with the Minutemen picked 9th.  Here’s the entire poll. (Rank/Team/Pts/1st Place votes)

1.  Boston College 90 (9)
2.  Maine 80 (1)
3.  UNH 76
4.  BU 59
5.  Northeastern 54
6.  Vermont 53
7.  Merrimack 48
8.  Lowell 33
9.  UMass 26
10.  Providence 21

I kind of thought Merrimack would be the popular pick to finish higher, so I was surprised to see them 7th.  But overall it’s tough to argue with much in this poll.  Obviously the conference is BC’s to lose and there’s a pretty good gap between them and everyone else.  Keep in mind that coaches cannot vote for their own team so BC is essentially the unanimous pick to finish first while Jerry York put his 1st place vote in the direction of Maine.

For the most part media day was pretty much what you thought it would be, the Jerry York and Jack Parker show.  I’ve been to one other Hockey East function and it’s pretty much the same every time.  That’s not a knock on either them, that’s just pretty much the course for these things and probably deserved given they’ve won the last three national championships.  Parker, by the way, looked to be recovering well from his offseason heart surgery.  I wanted to get to ask him if he thought opposing crowds would go easy on him out of sympathy, because I knew he’d have a witty response, but never was able to get him alone.  Tim Whitehead was also very busy with his team being picked to finish second in the league.

It was good to see College Hockey Inc.’s Paul Kelly in attendance.  Kelly was hired by the college hockey community in the spring to be a spokesman/advocate for college hockey.  Basically it’s his job to promote college hockey as a viable path to pro hockey and try to stem the tide of top US hockey talent heading north to the Canadian major juniors.  It’ll be a tough battle but for the most part Kelley has been very visible in his effort so far.

Hockey East released their television schedule today as well.  I’m happy to say that UMass’ home opener against BU will be televised as well as 6 other games this season.  While the opening series at Minnesota was included on the schedule released, there was no note of the Wisconsin series, which seems a little surprising.  Hopefully that’s because the Badgers are still finalizing things, as most of their home games are televised and UMass fans will have the chance to watch the New Year’s series.  Hockey East did announce a new partnership with CBS College Sports for 10 games to be broadcast nationally, including the February 11th game against BU at the Mullins.


While the 9th place pick was a little disheartening, if not unexpected, it was still a positive day for the UMass community as longtime UMass color commentator Brock Hines was the recipient of the Joe Concannon Hockey East Media Award.  Brock has been at the mic since the very beginning of the modern era of UMass hockey in 1993.  In his acceptance speech he made a point to mention that he doesn’t just work for UMass hockey, but he’s an advocate for UMass and college hockey in general and talks them up wherever he goes.  That especially stood out to me, as I try my best to do the same.  I certainly like all hockey, but there’s something about college hockey, with the rivalries, the sportsmanship, the raw yet innocent simplicity of the game, and of course the young players representing their school and its alumni and representatives that really appeals to me.  I would hope that all UMass hockey fans follow Brock’s lead and become advocates of UMass and college hockey and help expose more people the enjoyment of it.

I personally, was very happy to see Brock win this award.  From a technical standpoint, he does a very good job.  He has a smooth delivery, as a color guy he knows when to add texture to a play or situation or when to let things go, and is very knowledgable overall.  But as a fan, Brock, and his play-by-play partners over the years, has been a lifeline to me.  Sure I try to get to as many games as possible, but I still can’t get to all of them.  UMass has a good number of games on TV this year, but that hasn’t always been the case.  Diehard UMass fans for almost two decades have had to huddle around the radio (or now computer) and listen to Brock describe the Minutemen’s line changes from Orono, relay Toot’s post game comments from The Gutt, or react to game-winning goals from Rochester.  There have been countless games, from the playoffs in 2003 to meaningless games when I lived out of state where he helped me follow my team.

I had a chance to speak with Brock today and he said the award, as voted on by his peers in the industry, is worth more than anything he’s every gotten in his life.  Brock is the first person affiliated with UMass hockey media to win the award.  I had a chance to talk to him about his favorite moments in covering the coming on 18 years of UMass hockey and wanted to share them.  He had some interesting answers.  First he mentioned the game from December of 2002 when UMass came back from a 4-1 deficit against BU on a Chris Capraro breakaway winner in overtime.  This is probably my favorite UMass game as well (and not just because I can be seen in the background of Cappy’s gamewinner) but because as Brock put it, it was the “changing of the guard…and showed that UMass had arrived”.  It doesn’t seem like much now since UMass semi-regularly beats BU and has gone on to bigger and better things.  But remember UMass had only beaten BU once since the program was resurrected nine years earlier and coming off the Mallen era where the team was perennial doormats, this game was amazing.  It was the Generals outplaying and outhustling the Globetrotters.

The other game he mentioned was a random game in February of 1998.  To be honest, I had to look it up because it didn’t immediately pop into my memory.  But looking at old media guides, I very well could’ve been there.  To put it in context for those who remember the triangles, this was back in the season where Maine transfer Tim Lovell shared the captaincy with tough guy Brad Norton.  UMass would end up going an abysmal, but sadly typical, 6-24-3 this year.  But as Brock said, on this night the Minutemen had something to them.  The game was televised locally on Channel 40 he mentioned and the team came out and skated with the #3 Wildcats.  In the end UMass won a close game they had no business being in 4-3, on what Brock remembered as a huge performance by Brian Regan, who typically had to stand on his head for any of their wins in those days.  That’s definitely the memory of someone who has been around the program since the early days of the rebirth.

Congrats Brock, you’ve certainly cemented your place in the Hockey East media community but you’ve especially put your mark on the UMass hockey program.

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  1. George

     /  September 29, 2010

    This post is all about deserving. Two things here Rocks– one about you, like people are changing the way they get news (cable and internet vs the networks), people are changing the way they get their sports news. The hardest working people who do the work and get the facts straight earn the trust and respect of the readers. You have done it and it should start coming as no surprise to you that you are accepted as a REGULAR media member. You probably have scouted as many games as some coaching staffs :-)!! You are more of source than the print media in this area. I still enjoy reading guys like Matt or Dick, but the FACT is, as you’ve stated, you’ve just about covered this team from wire to wire and provide must read blog posts with the depth they don’t provide. They may have other things going (Matt covers hoops for instance), but it is what it is. Congrats to you and this piece again demonstrates your solid work.

    Two, like you I also depend on the radio/net still for a lot of UMass sports, especially hockey. Brock doesn’t have the stature of my favorite, the legendary Jack Leaman , the flashiness of John Madden (thank goodness), but is steady as they come. You did a great job on that portion of the piece as well. Like the baseball player who has played all the positions in one game, I’ve heard him do color, play by play, host coaches shows and do interviews, all well in his 17 years. I think the University is lucky to have someone so versatile.

    Again you a deserving member of the media and I depend on you as do many readers. The above post demonstrates why.


    • Thanks for the compliments, George. I’m glad that you, and others, see FTT as a central place to come to follow the UMass hockey team. That’s exactly what I had hope to create here.

      But I still wouldn’t consider myself a member of the media, despite the invitation to yesterdays event. First off, because I want to remain a fan. When the puck drops I’m going to be in my seat yelling and screaming, jumping up and down, and letting my emotions get the best of me. And while I try to keep things fair and balanced when I write in here, I still want to be biased to the point of writing from a UMass fan’s perspective. A luxury the media cannot have.

      Secondly, I have a great load of respect for the people covering UMass and the rest of college hockey. While I do my best to provide original content the majority of what you see here is sharing stories written by the real media. Most have years of education and experience that makes them excel at their jobs. That was definitely on display yesterday where at times I felt a bit overwhelmed while for them it was just another day at the job. I respect them too much to consider myself their peers.

      So thank you again for your kind words, but I have no problem with just being a fan blogger. But a fan blogger who wouldn’t mind a few more complimentary buffet lunches. Thanks Bertagna! 😉


  2. UMass02

     /  September 29, 2010

    Congrats to Brock as well! He’s a great broadcaster and really seems to enjoy his role with the hockey program.


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