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Pecknold Rebuffs UMass’ Offer

So in the course of a few hours today UMass reportedly had their new coach, perhaps an unpopular one with many fans, and then had to move on to Plan B Plan C Plan D(?) when Rand Pecknold decided to stay at Quinnipiac.  Rumors started late yesterday that Pecknold, who interviewed with McCutcheon twice in the last week or so, was offered the position and was deciding whether to accept.  Early in the afternoon College Hockey News reported that Pecknold was “ready to accept” the offer.   Later however Vautour posted this saying “UMass people had reasons to believe the deal was done and Pecknold was coming” but that was no longer the case.  Just before USCHO reported that he decided to stay after Quinnipiac made a counteroffer.  As one Section Uer commented, “UMass was Umiliated”, referring to UNH’s Dick Umile using a UMass offer not once, but twice (1993 and 2000) to get himself a better deal from New Hampshire.  Neither Umile or UMass has won a national championship since.

In the end Pecknold leaving UMass at the altar may be a good thing.  A good amount of fans, some former and even some current players, and I didn’t like the idea of him as coach.  He’s obviously a good coach to rack up as many wins as he has and is the main reason why Quinnipiac went from Division II to the ECAC so quickly.  But the fact is the complaint of UMass fans advocating for a coaching change has been the consistent finishes at the bottom of the conference, lack of NCAA appearances, and late season collapses.  All of those things can be used to describe Pecknold with the Bobcats.  Quinnipiac has finished 5th, 8th, 7th, 7th, and 6th in the last five years.  They’ve gone to just one NCAA tournament under his watch, back in 2003 when they were a member of the MAAC (Atlantic Hockey’s predecessor).  And the teams recently have had collapses that rival what UMass fans have experienced the last few years, including starting 12-1-0 in 2009-10 only to go 8-17-2 for the balance of the season.  Maybe things would’ve been different in Amherst, but his accomplishments didn’t necessarily suggest he’d be able to accomplish any more than former coach Toot Cahoon.  In fact, Cahoon actually won an ECAC title in the league.

So where does UMass go from here?  Keep going down the list I guess.  The problem is, as far as I can tell, they’re already getting pretty far down the list.  Reports are that Merrimack’s Mark Dennehy and former grad assistant Darren Yopyk are not interested.  Now Pecknold has said thanks but no thanks.  What’s sad to think is how this reflects on the UMass program. Last season Providence, with their miserable seasons recently and horrible facilities, was able to lure one of the hottest coaches in the ECAC and the country to campus in the form of Nate Leaman.  UMass just got told no by the guy who finished seven places behind him in Leaman’s last season in the ECAC. Yikes. Maybe this job isn’t as highly sought after as John McCutcheon keeps telling the press.

I’ve heard conflicting information about the interest level of USHL coach Jim Montgomery but it sounds like even if he was interested John McCutcheon may not feel his background is a good fit.  We know they’ve interviewed Frank Anzalone which as far as I can tell has pretty much baffled the college hockey world.  They’ve also interviewed Mike Cavanaugh, but he has been passed over for so many jobs you have to start to think it’s for a reason.  Maybe they go after Holy Cross’ Paul Pearl who Vautour previously mentioned.  Who’s left?  The top candidates in my view will not interview.  At the same time I’m hearing some qualified candidates, familiar names to those around the program, have already been eliminated while others are hesitant to pursue the position given the reports of a lack of institutional support for the program.  On top of all that, we’ve now entered July.  Oh, and today UMass got publically rebuffed for the position.  Quite frankly, in my opinion, this coaching search is in shambles.   If the athletic department was going to prove to the fans and the rest of college hockey that they’re fully invested in the program and doing what it takes to win, they’re failing to do so.  It’s time for McCutcheon to take a step back in the process, involve his search committee so that they can use their individual perspectives and expertise during this time, and put together not just a list of the best candidates to lead UMass hockey going forward, but a strategy to actually land the best of those candidates.  So far how this coaching search has played out in the public as well as behind closed doors, coming on the heels of a poorly handled situation involving Cahoon leaving, gives me little confidence in the immediate future of the hockey program under this administration.

It’s not just the fans who are getting frustrated by this summer of discontent for UMass hockey.  Here’s what former captain Paul Dainton had to said on Twitter:

@paullyd31
Hey Umass Athletic Department, maybe its time to hop on the bandwagon and get behind your hockey team #MixInSomeSupport #FTB #UmassHockey

Graduated, no longer wearing the “C”, but still a leader for UMass hockey.  There’s a reason why Dainton is one of the most respected people ever to take the ice for the Minutemen.

He followed that Tweet with:

@paullyd31

Regardless of the outcome, trust in each other, band together as a team, and take dead aim #UmassHockey

There are, thankfully, some other things going on in the world of UMass hockey.

Mike Pereira, Kevin Boyle, K.J. Tiefenwerth, and Oleg Yevenko are all done with Islanders camp while Eddie Olczyk is on his way home from Carolina.  Conor Allen is still out in Vancouver and the Canucks site has a lot of good photos of their camp.

Meanwhile, Joel Hanley started camp with the Columbus Blue Jackets today.  After the season he put together last year he was deserving of an invite somewhere.

There is some great news coming out of the AHL tonight as Alex Berry has signed with the Hershey Bears.  Berry suffered a horrific compound fracture to his arm at training camp for Portland last year where quick work by the trainers there is credited with saving his life after an artery was severed.  But here he is, getting past some serious ups and downs on the road to recovery, back in hockey.  Today was a tough day if you follow UMass hockey, but that news will make sure it ends on a good note.

A couple more signings for Minutemen in the minors.  Mike Kostka has signed a two way deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose AHL club he helped defeat in last season’s finals.  Meanwhile AHL All-Star Matt Irwin signed a one year deal to stay with the Sharks organization.

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20 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  July 2, 2012

    How come Red Gendron hasn’t been interviewed for the head coaching job. He has won a national championship at Maine. Won three Stanley cups with the Devils. He recruited most of the current players at Umass. I think he would lead this program in the right direction.

    Like

    • An excellent question.

      Like

    • Concerned Minutefan

       /  July 3, 2012

      Red was a good recruiter – we need a GREAT recruiter. Someone who can convince players that Amherst is a legitimate college hockey destination and not Boston’s stepsister. Pecknold (and his staff) built QU up not by combing the EJHL and Atlantic League for locals, but by aggressively recruiting out west (USHL, BCHL, AJHL) and bringing in the talent to make that program a contender. His teams are never laden with NHL draft picks, but he manages to bring in solid college hockey players (think: Wong, Lampe, Leitch, Cashman) that make his team competitive, year in and year out.

      Like

  2. Anonymous

     /  July 2, 2012

    Len Quesnelle should be named head coach for next year. Him as interm head coach will allow committee to not rush and pick the wrong guy. Len is staying next year anyways give him a shot. They wont have to commit to a long contract like they will with other guys and will put them in a more solid spot right now.

    Like

    • Everything I’ve heard is the department wants to go after a full time coach and doesn’t want to do the interim thing. I don’t know if that will change if they keep getting rebuffed.

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  3. Justin

     /  July 2, 2012

    “Neither Umile or UMass has won a national championship since.”

    I laughed.

    Which sadly was needed given what’s transpired in Amherst recently. Greg Cannella’s (and I guess Elaine Sortino’s) wonderful work aside, hockey is the University’s best chance at building a national title contending team (facilities+top league+small # of teams in the sport), and the administration doesn’t give a shit. Hockey was a huge draw for the school and the AD and whoever else is driving the clown car could care less.

    Like

  4. Kieron

     /  July 2, 2012

    This has progressed over the day from a shambles to a complete farce. At this point, it is going to be hard for the committee to be taken seriously by any truly viable candidates.

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  5. George

     /  July 2, 2012

    Several things are certain.

    One, John McCutcheon is proving just about everybody right that he could care less about this whole process. Not as well versed as you are in football or basketball? You have a search committee. My guess is you have done nothing to utilize them. Guess??? How stupid of me, actions speak louder than words. Today was a joke. You were played, like Bob Marcum before you.

    Two, Paul Pearl is not the answer. He, like Pecknold, has been around the same place too long and accomplished very little and would’ve probably been grabbed by now by someone. He’s a .500 coach in the weakest league in the NCAA and I’ll argue that the two trips to the NCAA we because the road through the MAC/Atlantic Hockey is an easier way than the other conferences

    And finally, why search for a candidate on the low rung on the ladder? Haste really does make waste and if you stick yourself with a middle of the road coach, you will get middle of the road results. Wait for the Dennehy or someone near the top to say yes. (Yeah that means consider an interim guy).

    If they keep saying no, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH SOMEONE MUCH CLOSER TO THE TOP AND THAT PERSON MUST GO.

    This list looks questionable at best and if anything, Vautour should have looked at rehires as well:

    http://www.gazettenet.com/blog/umass-sports/with-a-coaching-search-underway-a-look-at-mccutcheon039s-hiring-track-record

    Like

  6. Given what is happening with this program, how long before UConn passes us by? Rather depressing days for UMass hockey. What must the recruits be thinking?

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    • ICEWEST

       /  July 2, 2012

      Unless Mike Cavanaugh is interested, and at this point who would blame him for being a little hesitant, Len Quesnelle should be interviewed and seriously considered. Has he even been interviewed and is he interested? I’m not saying that it’s time to panic, but given the paucity of viable candidates, Quesnelle would provide the best chance at some sense of continuity/stability aboard a sinking ship.

      Like

  7. Anonymous

     /  July 2, 2012

    excellent blog as always – here is the problem – toot steps down amid “rumors” (which we know are true) that the administration doesn’t give a crap about the hockey program because of the love affair with their new “big time” (laugh) football team and a resurgent basketball program. If you are Rand Pecknold or Mark DEnnehy, or the coach of any program at a school where HOCKEY is the primary sport—-then why would you leave to go to a place where the program is under-funded, unappreciated, and permanently mired in an untenable situation? You wouldn’t – and everyone in college hockey knows that except for McCutcheon. The Pecknold Gambit should have been played behind the scenes, if it all – (you HAD to know he wouldn’t leave!!)

    The fallout? Now everyone, fans, players, opposing coaches, refs, all know that the next coach was at minimum —the second option. He is essentially castrated from the outset. Marginalized, emasculated, rendered impotent—you get the picture.

    So who gets the job? None of the candidates mentioned after Dennehy, Yopyk, are viable options. Pearl would be a disaster. He is a woeful recruiter having “missed” on so many guys – you think UMass has goaltending issues? The most significant game HC played last year was against a weak UMass team and they got beat 7-2.

    Gilligan is a great guy – not dynamic enough to sustain and grow the program- either is Montgomery or (god forbid) Gene Reilly who was mentioned in the paper. Red Gendron could do it – and he wouldn’t care that he was the second choice because he could care less what others think. He is a dynamic, knowledgeable, difference-maker –

    new motto – Go Maroon Get Red

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  8. George

     /  July 2, 2012

    Great post above.
    Red would win the fights against McCutcheon that Toot couldn’t win and that would scare the heck out him. Won’t happen.

    Like

  9. Carson

     /  July 2, 2012

    i too am on the red gendron bandwagon

    Like

  10. Bubba

     /  July 3, 2012

    I agree, I am on the Red bandwagon. Question to the administration, ever wonder why coaches are replaced at the end of the season and not halfway through the offseason?? One last thought, what about bringing in Stork as an assistant, and heir apparent?

    Like

  11. Big Shot Bob

     /  July 3, 2012

    As a UMASS fan, I have to laugh at the UMASS hockey fans slamming the AD and their committment. The truth is the alumni and fans do not ($$$) support the program-few contributers but many second guessers!! Let the people who care about the school pick and not the internet geeks pick who will do right by the University!!

    Like

    • If you’re hanging out on a college hockey blog in July you’re probably a pretty big supporter of the program and contribute meaningfully in terms of both time and money. FTT readers are the people you see lined up in front of the ticket office before every game.

      Like

  12. Anonymous

     /  July 3, 2012

    uh oh….perhaps a crack in the Warrior’s armor? — maybe a scandal brewing that would inspire Dennehy to get out? and come here?

    According to a report in the Eagle-Tribune, Merrimack athletic director Glenn Hofmann was placed on paid leave Monday, but school officials won’t say why.

    Hofmann was hired by the college three years ago and refused to answer questions when approached at his North Andover home last night by the paper.

    College spokesman Jeffrey Doggett would only tell the paper that Hofmann’s leave was a “personnel matter.”

    Hofmann, who oversees 22 sports teams at Merrimack, including the nationally-ranked men’s hockey team, served as associate athletics director at Niagara from 2005 until his hiring at Merrimack in February 2009.

    Read more: http://www.uscho.com/2012/07/03/merrimack-ad-placed-on-paid-leave-due-to-personnel-matter/#ixzz1zZa0jlSP

    Like

    • I’m hearing the Merrimack issue is unlikely to change Dennehy’s decision to stay there.

      Like

      • Anonymous

         /  July 3, 2012

        Can anybody confirm if red still has his house on campus? If so it seems like we should at least sit down and talk to him.

        Like

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