The Badger Men’s Hockey Team’s season came to a close after a 5-1 loss in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament to Michigan last Thursday.
The Badgers ended their season dead last in the Big Ten Conference with a dismal 4-26-5 overall record. It was the worst record in the modern era for the Badgers, and many believed it could spell the end for head coach Mike Eaves’ tenure in Madison.
With the Badgers struggling so heavily this season general mummers regarding Eaves’ status began to percolate around campus. Many were calling for Eaves’ job and short lists of possible coaches were being drafted daily.
The rumors only seem to be just that, rumors. In a report published by the Wisconsin State Journal’s Andy Baggot, Wisconsin’s Athletic Director, Barry Alvarez, has gone public saying that Eaves will remain the head coach should he want to continue at his position.
“I can’t lose confidence in a coach that has had as much success as he’s had,” said Alvarez.
Mike Eaves has coached at Wisconsin for 13 seasons brining general success and one national championship in 2006 to the Badger program.
Alvarez went on to say that he plans on sitting down with Eaves in the near future to discuss the program and its future.
“He’s going to have a chance to sit down and figure out what we have to improve on and what has to change”
Honestly, I was all on board the fire Eaves train. This season was an absolute joke and I think the only reason that Mike Eaves is not jobless is because this is hockey and not football.
Obviously football is near and dear to Barry’s heart and in the Wisconsin State Journal’s article he even admits to being more hands on with football, but he insists he is still very active in hockey and equates his involvement with the program to his level of involvement with the basketball.
However, if the Badger football team had a season that was even remotely as bad as this year for the hockey team, Alvarez would probably think the sky was falling down.
Yet, after really looking at the season in retrospect I think firing Eaves would hurt this program. It would be a step in the wrong direction.
Mike Eaves is a good hockey coach and one horrendous year does not change that in my mind. He knows the program, he knows the university and ultimately I trust Eaves.
There are a couple of positives that need to be taken away from the season:
1. The season is now over (Whew.)
2. In a year, the Badgers only get older. There is an unreal amount of raw talent on the Badger squad but it was all too much, too soon. Give them an offseason and this group of youngsters will all be a year older, a year stronger, and a year faster.
3. The Badgers don’t lose that much. Mediocre seniors will graduate leaving space for the developed youngsters to fill. Rumpel’s departure is tough, but Luke Opilka will fill the void nicely.
4. Grant Besse emerged as a star. Not a great year offensively as a team, but the kid can shoot and was an obvious leader. As long as he doesn’t bolt (a remote possibility at best), he can be a leader for this team going forward.
4. The season is now over (On the list twice because that is how brutal this season was).
It is easy to look at this past season and call for Eaves’ head on a stick, but I believe that Alvarez is making the right choice by sticking with him for another season.
Come next year, and the Badgers struggle once again, look for Eaves to be fired. He was given a chance to redeem himself here, but it has to be his last.