Coach – the Minnesota border rival, big rivals... What do you hope for from the fans? Do you hope for an electric atmosphere in the Kohl Center this weekend with this series?
"I don't think you can help but have that electric atmosphere here this weekend with Minnesota coming into town. I know that we've talked about before as a player here I had never seen such a rivalry. I was 18 years old and it was like something I had never seen before. There are players from Minnesota that we have and they will be all excited for it. It'll be… I think the fans will turn out, I think it'll be a real fun weekend of hockey for everybody involved."
Coach, you guys had a lot of different goal scorers this past weekend. How nice as a coach is it to see that its not just one or two guys you are depending on, but anybody at any time can put the puck in the net ?
"Well, since the first day of practice that was one of the questions, who was going to be our goal scorer? You know, where was it going to come from? And we said there was going to be a lot of pleasant surprises. It didn't happen right away, but we've had that happen. We've had people step up to the plate and get their first goal. Any time that happens, it makes winning a game a lot easier because the other team can't focus on just one line or one unit, they have to have all of their lines playing pretty sharp, so by having the offense spread around makes us a more potent team as a whole."
Mike, last time you played Minnesota up there, you lost 8-1 and you told your players on the bench that night to remember this. Do you think they have?
"Well that was one of the reasons that they worked as hard as they did all summer I hope. The second night at Minnesota was… the crowd was really… once they got up it was a resounding in your face kind of cheer. I know that being a former player that when you are in the dog days of the summer working out, you reach down, when you get a little tired you say ‘I'm going to do a little more here because I don't want that to happen again.' So I sure hope it was in their mind when they were training this summer."
What does this team have to do to get credibility from the rest of the country at this point. Given what happened last year, is it beating Minnesota twice? What needs to be done for you guys to be recognized as a program that seems to have reversed the trend over the last couple of years?
"On Saturday morning with the team we talked about having an opportunity to do something on the road, sweep on the road. It doesn't matter who it is against – any WCHA opponent to do that against is a tough thing to do to give ourselves that winner's mentality – knowing from inside out that we can get that done. And that was the start of getting some credibility from our league and now we have another opportunity this weekend. If we can make a statement, then we will climb that ladder of credibility amongst not only our league, but around the country."
Mike Eaves on John Hynes
"I would like to have John Hynes come up to the podium for a second here. One of our favorite words with the hockey team is the word paradox because it represents both sides of the coin. It is with a heavy heart and a glad heart that we are announcing here today that John is leaving the program. He has accepted a head coaching job at the under-18 team. with the national team development program in Ann Arbor. So John will be here through the rest of this week as a transition week and then will be leaving. It is a tremendous opportunity for John and so that's the glad part of my heart because I know it is a great opportunity, but on the sad side is it's a little bit of kick in the stomach. We are going to lose our breath here a little bit because he does a great job with our players and our recruiting. It is going to leave us in a little bit of a hole. That is the paradox statement that I have for you today. John is up here maybe if you have any questions for him."
Was this a tough decision to make John, or was it an easy one for your career?
Assistant men's hockey coach John Hynes: "It was definitely a tough decision. I think my opportunity here at Wisconsin has been great. I think it afforded me the ability to be a top candidate for the job. I do have a tremendous amount invested I think in the team as far as what we went through last year and our incoming recruiting class and more specifically I think my relationship with Mike [Eaves] as a mentor for two years before I got here and my relationship with [associate head coach] Troy [Ward]. Those two guys have been great mentors to me and friends."
Mike, what does this do for your staff? Do you foresee… I would think you have to replace him at some point. Do you people in mind? When do you expect that?
Mike Eaves: "I think what we are going to do Andy is we are going to post it and see what kind of response we get. We are going to look for a specific type of person. You know, we have to sit down and kind of do that ourselves. We are not just going to fill it with anybody; it's got to be a good fit. And so I don't know what kind of response we're going to get in the middle of the season either. That's kind of a nuance I haven't walked yet. So we'll post it for two weeks, we'll see what kind of response we get and then we'll go from there.
John, at least outwardly it looks like the developmental program is in a state of flux right now. How much did that factor into your decision? It appears that there are those who think that that program might not be around five years from now. Granted you wanted to be a head coach, but how seriously was that part of your thought process?
"Well I think one of the things that helped me with the
decision was I was with the program for four or five years when it first
started. That program has always been under scrutiny as far as whether it's
going to be around or not. But within USA hockey and within the organization and
the staff that's been there, there's no question that the program will be
around. Not to say that it will be in Ann Arbor specifically within the next
four or five years, but the program is solid, they do develop players. As far as
the organization is concerned, the program will always be in existence. But
whether it will be in Ann Arbor or not is still in question."