Nov. 12, 2012
Watch Eaves News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's hockey head coach Mike Eaves spoke Monday as the Badgers prepare to come off a bye week and head north to face rival Minnesota on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16-17.
Eaves also spoke about the resignation of assistant coach Bill Butters and the injury suffered by junior forward Mark Zengerle.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above and a complete transcript of Eaves' remarks can be found below.
Question: Mike, you're a guy that embraces change usually. Has there been too much change with you guys this year with the issue with players and obviously with your coaching staff, or has it been -- have you seen the guys pretty much locked in, especially coming into this week with the rivalry game?
Eaves: I think part of our world as coaches, in fact, is that change is part of the norm. Whether it's injury, whether you're traveling and have bad weather, whether it's the middle of the game and the referee makes a call that you don't agree with. So I think, once again, change is a constant. We certainly had our moments of change this season already, with the latest being with Coach Bill leaving. I think there was a couple of days that I felt the guys were in a little bit of shock, mourning, to use a couple of adjectives, but on Saturday when we practiced, we competed against each other for about an hour and 45 minutes. If there was any -- I think it was put in the back, and we moved forward. So change is a constant. It's what we deal with all the time in the coaching world and I think what we deal in life.
Question: Mike, has your schedule today been a help or a hinder?
Eaves: Both. I think that I'll have to be really honest with you. I was very pleased we didn't play this last weekend because the time was used in other areas, as you can well imagine. The down side of that is the fact that you don't get yourself in a rhythm of playing, and we need some games. So it's been both here recently.
Question: Mike, ideally, when do you want to name a new coach? Is it just when the situation presents itself? Do you have a timetable at stake?
Eaves: There are many factors that go into answering that question, and being on the inside, you want to do things quickly, and yet you want to do things thoroughly. What's the right way to combine those two? I'm not quite sure. But there is a process that you need to go through, both in interviewing and then the university has a process by which it has to go through to make sure that a candidate is a worthy candidate in terms of background checks and such. Felt good about the weekend in terms of making contact with people and talking with people. We're moving forward. I don't see us having anybody this upcoming weekend, though.
Question: Mike, have you got any more feedback from your players post Bill Butters' departure regarding their thoughts on it? The reason I ask is one of your former players talked about how, if it were him, he might feel a little bit guilty that maybe they didn't -- maybe he didn't, speaking on behalf of the player, that he didn't do enough to make this coach want to stay and compete with the players. Have you gotten any sense of that from your guys?
Eaves: We're going through -- last week we were supposed to do individual meetings with the players for our first segment. Because of circumstances, we're doing that this week. We're doing that now. We've gotten feedback from guys, and there's been a whole gamut of different thoughts, but most of them, I haven't heard that one that you just mentioned. Most of them was shock, and I think it was there for a couple of days, but then there's a realization that we have to move on. Interesting to note, talking to some folks over the weekend -- and I had forgotten this or maybe wasn't aware of it -- the situation surrounding Dick Bennett when he retired. I didn't realize it was so early in the season, and they just had a big game. I think you ask any why now for Bill? The tumblers just fell together for him at this time, and maybe for Coach Bennett at the time. But the guys that we've talked to so far today have -- I think we've moved past it, and I think they have in their own way moved past it. And so we're moving on.
Question: Mike, can you recall or take us back to the first time Gary Shuchuk applied for a job on your staff. How has he grown since eventually joining your staff to where he stands today and looking forward to the additional responsibilities?
Eaves: Shuey was working in the community. He was in charge of a couple of ice surfaces here for the city. He was working in youth hockey. And at the time we sat down and talked -- we've talked about it here again recently because of the process we're going through -- is that as a young guy, he needed to get more experience. He needed to be on the ice more working with young people because that's what you need to have. He knows the game from the inside out as a player, and I think that credibility comes right away. I think the next step in that credibility is, okay, how do I work with young people? How do they -- how do I share that knowledge with them? There's only one way to do that. That's get on the ice and deal with young people and understand how you break it down into pieces, give it to him so they can grasp those concepts and use them on the ice to their benefit. The second time he came around, he had taken AAA players and gotten to the national tournament several times. So he'd had success. He'd been on the ice. He'd been through the functions of doing what I just described, which made him more of a feasible attribute to our program, being able to come in having that experience and being able to share that with our players.
Question: Outside of Mark Zengerle and Nick Kerdiles, any personnel issues?
Eaves: No. Everybody is expected to play. Nick continues to practice. And Mark, coach had him on bike watching practice. That is motivation to heal faster. Nobody likes to ride the bike. They'd rather be on the ice.
Question: Can you sense within Gary Shuchuk the excitement there? I know a friend is leaving, obviously, but can you sense that, hey, I get to do more. I can't wait for this opportunity.
Eaves: He's embraced -- we already sat down and looked at Bill's duties and divvied them up what we need to do in a short time. Total embracement. He's excited about it. I think Shuey is one of those guys, guys talk about I want this guy in my Fox hole because, when things get tough, he's going to do things to get it done. He's tough, and that's who Shuey is right now.
Question: Having looked at the Gophers team, what do you see from them? What jumps out to you when you watch them?
Eaves: They probably have the most depth at forward in our league in terms of ability and talent. I don't think I've watched video yet of a team that can -- three top lines for sure and a fourth line that's not bad as well in terms of ability. So that's the first thing that jumps off. And, again, it's more of what we see from them every year -- their skating, their passing, their defense is -- I think they're finding out a little bit who they are. They've got a freshman goaltender. But up front, they have something that a lot of teams don't have, and that's a deep pool of talent in their forwards.