Monday, July 15, 2013

SB Nation Scoops the World-Herald With UNO Hockey News - Twice

Dean Blais filled the open assistant position on the UNO hockey coaching staff on Friday with Alex Todd, currently the head coach of division III Castleton State in Vermont.  Todd replaces Steve Johnson, who resigned after one season in Omaha. At that time, the rumor was that George Gwozdecky might be the guy, but now it looks like the former Denver coach is going to take a year off and give broadcasting a try.

The World-Herald's Rob White reports that the job almost went to former Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki, who instead chose to be an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks AHL farm team in Rockford. Todd is a Wisconsin native who played at Union College before taking over Castleton State in 2005-06. He's been a success at that level, but doesn't have any division 1 coaching experience.  Probably most important is Todd's background as a defenseman, along with his background with USA Hockey's summer development programs.

But White wasn't first with this story... the story actually broke with Wisconsin blog "Bucky's 5th Quarter". Not sure how Andy Johnson got the story first, other than Todd is a Wisconsin native.

But that wasn't the only time an SB Nation blog scooped the Omaha paper on Friday. Earlier that morning, Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey reported that goalie Dayn Belfour wouldn't be returning, now that Kirk Thompson and Reed Peters are joining the team this fall. Thompson and Peters signing was not news on Friday; Belfour's departure was.  And later that day, White also posted the story.

Dayn Belfour

Not sure how the SB Nation blogs can scoop the Omaha newspaper, except that the World-Herald never has replaced Chad Purcell on the hockey beat.  White has picked up some of the coverage, but he's stretched covering UNO's other sports as well as the Sarpy County baseball team. Maybe White couldn't get the story confirmed, and the SBN blogs ran with the story unconfirmed initially. Or maybe White just got scooped - twice - when he normally is focused on baseball, not pucks.  (Disclaimer:  I also write for SB Nation's "Corn Nation" blog, so I have a natural bias for the work of my fellow bloggers...) I lean towards the "scooped", as Johnson and Bucky's 5th Quarter talked to Todd three days earlier.
Back to Belfour's departure, I did like the quote that Blais provided to the World-Herald:

“Dayn filled a position for us for a while,” Blais said. “But we’re going to try to make a run at a championship, and with that we had to get more depth at every position.”

While Belfour didn't play badly, it seems that Blais wants the team to play at a higher level. Or maybe "needs" is the better word.  That would explain why Blais ripped the redshirt off of Ryan Massa once he realized that Belfour wasn't going to be the answer in February.

And why that need?  "We're going to try to make a run at a championship."  We're going into Dean Blais' fifth season at UNO. Blais' record at North Dakota speaks for itself, but it hasn't happened yet at UNO, where the Mavs haven't made the final weekend of conference tournament play under Blais.  UNO fans are no doubt disappointed in how the last two seasons have finished up, and needless to say, Blais feels that urgency.

No doubt in my mind that Blais knows talent, and if he thinks that these incoming freshman give UNO a better chance to win this season or next, so be it.

No comments: