Nov. 19, 2012
Watch Eaves News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's hockey head coach Mike Eaves spoke Monday after the team picked up a point in WCHA play by skating to a tie and loss last weekend in Minneapolis against No. 3 Minnesota. The Badgers host Minnesota State in a home series this weekend, Nov. 23-24, at the Kohl Center.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above and a complete transcript of Eaves' remarks can be found below.
Question: You talked earlier this year what a comfort it was having a lot of veteran forwards back. What's preventing the vast majority of them from kind of taking hold of things and being productive up to this point?
Eaves: Well, I think part of that is missing the people that we are in terms of production. I think you take Zengerle out of there and Nic Kerdiles, and what we've done is we have different chemistry up front, and I think right now a guy like Tyler Barnes is really squeezing the stick hard. I thought that was one of Tyler's least effective efforts on Saturday night. He got one goal in our game, and he's the guy we rely on. I think the guys, with the goal production not being there -- I think that's what you're talking about, Andy, is just the lack of goal production from having a bunch of forwards back that some of the chemistry is missing and guys are squeezing their sticks a little bit right now.
Question: I was going to kind of follow up on that, Mike. It's been a while since you guys got the victory. You've gotten -- obviously, fought for a tie, but are they starting to press a little bit? It plays with people's minds where, even if you get a tie or don't get a victory after a while, it's got to get a little while.
Eaves: It's part of the human psyche if things don't go the way you want, especially if people are goal scorers and rely on that as one of their contributing factors. Again, I thought Tyler had been pretty decent up until Saturday night game. I'm using him as an example. We get feedback from the kids every week, and one of the things is I'm not on the score sheet, I'm not on the score sheet. We talk about it. But I thought that he tried to cut corners on Saturday to try to make up for it, and as a result, the whole game kind of fell through a little bit. It's something we'll address with him this week and hopefully clear that head of his.
Question: Mike, you said with Mark out, that you would create the best balanced lineup, given that didn't really produce anything. Do you go back to maybe loading up a line? Do you take a different approach to that line?
Eaves: I think we will take a different approach to our lines this week. I think we'll move [Brendan Woods] up there with LaBate and [Barnes] and see if that gives us a little jump, jump start there. I think we'll take a look at our power play and see if we can do a couple things there, might move Schulze with that first group. So, yeah, there's a couple things we're going to look at doing to see if we can stimulate the economy.
Question: As a whole, Mike, what did you think of the Minnesota series? The play of your goaltenders and everything, all things considered.
Eaves: I think your last comment is interesting. All things considered, you would say, geez, you held the number 3 team in the country to five goals. One of them was an empty netter. So really, two goals a game. When you lose like we did on Saturday where it was close, we're hanging around and had a chance, it really hurts. When you step back, you say, well, gee, you know, number 3 team in the country, but that's not the nature of sport. I think that you can step back, and it kind of gives you some balance, but the fact remains on Saturday, as we looked at video, the things that we didn't like, we didn't pass the puck very well. We didn't connect the dots that we had seen our kids do. In some of our systems play, we seemed to fall away from our habits, and you wonder, is that a by-product of whether or not we're in condition or not? Because when you're not in shape, you don't think right, and therefore, your systems may fall apart or you don't connect dots. So believe me, we looked at that, and we're going to cover all three bases today. We're going to go back. We're going to work on our skill. We're going to go over our system details, and we're quite frankly, going to skate a little bit to make sure that we're covering all our bases so that we're not leaving anything to doubt.
Question: What makes you think Brendan Woods is the person for that shot? He hasn't done a whole lot up to this point, seven shots.
Eaves: A, we're running out of options. And, B, there are glimpses that Woodsy -- he's not the most glamorous guy, but because of his size and his reach, and he can -- he sees the game pretty decently. He might be able to stimulate something there. So I think we're at that point we're going to give him a shot. Young man, you have to get in better shape. You need to sprint across the room.
Question: For the first weekend, how was the communication between you and Gary on the bench? Did you -- I suppose that's a work in progress as well.
Eaves: At times I thought it was good. I thought he did a great job of gathering the defensemen at time-outs and just creating dialogue with them and making sure we're on the same page. I thought it was decent. I think it can get better.
Question: Mike, are you wedded to the notion of replacing Bill this year? Are you determined to do that, that that's your only option? Or is it possible that you could go the rest of the year with just you and Gary on the staff?
Eaves: No, we'll bring somebody in. There's too big a hole that would exist -- I think we can kind of make do, but I think we need to fill that hole in order to cover all our bases as far as coaching, teaching, recruiting, working with these young people. So we will get somebody in. Maybe we could afford two microphones.
Question: How's Eddie Wittchow? Would you care to go into that story?
Eaves: Eddie's situation is kind of icing on the cake. He was helping load the bus, and the trunk going out to the bus clipped him in his Achilles heel. It didn't do anything to the Achilles heel but cut his skin. I guess he doesn't handle the sight of his own blood very well and kind of keeled over and bopped his head a little bit. He's going to skate today. He's fine. It was just like he looked around and he said really? He's good. That's the good news of that.
Question: This is human nature -- and I know you like to control what you can control. But do you ever sit there and think, boy, if Mark was here, if Kerdiles was here? You really haven't had your full complement of players, to really know exactly what you have yet, right?
Eaves: I don't think we allow ourselves to go there because, again, it's kind of taking grasp of what we can control. It looked pretty good on paper at the beginning of the year when we looked at what we had potentially up front and stuff. But this last game, where we were and what we did, we're going to make sure we go back and dot our Is and cross our Ts and make sure we're doing everything with these young men because, quite frankly, with these young guys, we could say, you know what, fellas, it's okay. We've got a lot of stuff going on, injuries, the chemistry's off, we're doing what we can. But that's not our nature, and I don't think they want to hear that from us. I think they want an, okay, we weren't as successful as we wanted this week. What's our plan, Coach? Give us the truth in what you saw and let's move forward and let's get better and figure out what we're going to do against Minnesota State. I think there's a bunch of ways you can look at this. That's the way we're going to look at it.
Question: Ryan Little used the word embarrassing to talk about Saturday's game. Would you have gone that far?
Eaves: For some of our kids, yeah. On an individual basis, I would. I'm glad that at least Ryan was honest enough with himself about some of the things we did. Because if you take a look at some of the breakdowns we had systematically, honestly, you'd say, what's wrong with these guys? Are they too tired they can't think straight, or do they not know what they're doing? So from that standpoint, Ryan, at least he's honest, and that's a good place to start.