Friday, August 15, 2008

I'll take "Famous Gananoquians" for a thousand...

The news was released this morning and will be discussed in depth on today's edition of Offsides (4 p.m., that former Maple Leaf Alyn McCauley (pictured) has been hired as an assistant coach with the Queen's Golden Gaels men's hockey team.

The situation is this; last year, head coach Brett Gibson had himself former Gaels captain Andrew Haussler and recent Acadia Axemen standout Tyler Reid as his assistants. Reid left after the season - at last word it was unsure whether he was going or staying - but the hiring of outgoing captain Jeff Ovens as a new assistant made that evident. Ovens, however, took a new job soon afterwards. Blink and you may have missed the news release on the Queen's Hockey website which simply states "Jeff will be taking over a Head Coaching position in Calgary, Alberta with the National Sports Academy."

Much like his quick replacement of reigning OUA East MVP Ryan Gibb with the talented Mackenzie Ball a few weeks ago, Gibson again demonstrated he's either the luckiest or the best (or both) recruiter in university hockey by filling the vacancy in record time.

An NHL background of McCauley is probably unnecessary for any grieving Leafs fan. The former Devils draft pick came to TO for a package that included Doug Gilmour, and was then famously traded alongside Brad Boyes for the aged Owen Nolan. The rest, as they say, is history. Those without Toronto tunnel vision will also know he had a stellar time in San Jose before signing with the LA Kings, where he was limited by injuries to 10 games last year.

McCauley starts his coaching career off in a growing and strengthening program that has gone from a non-factor to a playoff team and division champion in the two years Gibson has headed up the squad. He'll probably have to get used to the struggles of dealing with Queen's Athletics, as it's looking less and less likely that men's hockey will be one of the priveleged few to receive full-time coaching money from the school.

It'd be a mistake not to mention the Gananoque connection here - Gibson a Gan resident and McCauley as well, despite his birthplace being listed as Brockville. Pretty well everyone agrees that's how this came to be in the first place. Also of note is that both will likely make their full time wages with their respective family businesses - Gibson with a healthcare company, and McCauley, at least according to the always-trustworthy Wikipedia, with a family painting company.

It'd be foolish to posit how that hiring will affect the team's performance this season. But it'll obviously draw a fair bit of publicity and, if lucky, local attention and attendance to the team. The story has already been picked up by the Canadian Press. The tenure of Kirk "I'm here to build a program" Muller was obviously one that didn't live up to high expectations. As a result, we should be sure not to set similar expectations for McCauley. Feel free to find it awesome, though. I sure do.

"Former NHLer Alyn McCauley joins Queen's coaching staff,"


sager said...

Good stuff.

Alyn McCauley has got to be a candidate for the Can I Try This Career Over? Award.

He was a undersized skills guy who came up in the Dead Puck Era on a team that had no use for young players.

Anonymous said...

Here's a couple of questions - and the answers could be looked up but I am too lazy to do so - how was hockey attendance last year with games split between the Mem. Centre and Napanee? Were means provided for students to make it to the Napanee games?


sager said...

Tyler & Andrew can far better answer this since they were there ... is playing in Napanee still on the table for this year now that the Frontenacs are in the K-Rock Centre?

Andrew Bucholtz said...

There was practically no way to get to the Napanee games for students. It was even tough for media. If I remember correctly, Tyler managed to get some rides out there with Queen's Athletics, but I could only wrangle one all year (for the women's hockey playoffs). The Memorial Centre was much better, as it's only about a 15-minute walk from campus and they organized buses on several occasions. Despite that, the hockey crowds at the M Centre were pretty small whenever I was there, especially for the women's games. It was still pretty empty at Kill McGill even, and that was with a lot of imported students. It should be better this year, as I'm pretty sure that all the games will be in the M Centre (Tyler wrote a
while back
that the Carr-Harris Cup might be in the K-Rock Centre, but I haven't heard anything else on that front). As far as I know, Napanee is off the table and the M Centre is the new home rink, so that should help with attendance: the Alyn McCauley factor may also help.

Duane Rollins said...

the Alyn McCauley factor may also help.

Thus marking the first time in the history of the English language that the phrase "Alyn McCauley factor" has ever been written...

sager said...

You've forgotten who saved the Leafs in the 2002 playoffs?

Then again, it was the Sens, who were going to find a way to spit the bit somehow.

Tyler King said...

Napanee outdrew the M Centre which surprised everybody, but there was no way to get there for students and no efforts made at any time by the department to help in that regard. I only got to go because I was the PA announcer for a lot of games, and only got the ride as a media guy for games we were broadcasting live.

All games this year will be at the Memorial Centre. Unless the department tries to raise awareness of McCauley being a coach (which I doubt they would), he won't have a noticeable effect on attendance. Kirk Muller didn't exactly pack the Jock Harty.

No news on the K-Rock Centre negotiations, but apparently people were pissed off that I reported it.

Anonymous said...

Neat news on the Gaels situation with another NHLer behind the bench. Kirk "I'm here to build a program" Muller actually helped attendance as the team averaged nearly 600 a game that year (note: average - yes, that includes the sellout against McGill and the sellout Carr-Harris), but that's way better than past year's of 150-200 averages.

The Gaels will struggle in 2008-2009 for the simple reason that Gibb is gone and it will take the new starter a few weeks to settle in and Queen's always starts with the West and the York divison or the Western division, rather than say an OUIT, Ryerson, U of T, RMC, Carleton, Ottawa schedule to open the year. They should win the division again however, hands down, as U of T will be dismal again, Ryerson won't contend and RMC will be awful. It wouldn't be crazy to suggest that Ryerson will provide the most competition as they have recruited some decent OPJHL players from the GTA. Still, it's the Far East's conference to lose...again.

Basically, until a Mid-East team can beat UQTR and McGill on a continual basis the East champ will come from the Far East division.

Has anyone taken a look at Lakehead's recruiting class? Are they National Championship favourites based on the fact they are stacked and host the tournament with 3,600 of their own fans for the entire event?

UQTR will be stellar this year, they won the 2007 OUA Championship with mostly 1st and 2nd year players who are now in their 3rd and 4th year. Michaud ( G ) is 3rd year now and should shake off the Dallaire shadow that was over him most of 2007-2008.

2008 OUA Champion McGill had a veteran heavy lineup (or at least most of their output came from vets) and they will need a year to re-tool. 2008 runner-up Brock lost their goaltender, Matt Harpwood, to Norway as he signed in their top division rather than coming back for a 5th season. Western is OHL overage heavy again this year on the recruiting with very few players under the age of 20 being invited to try out for their program in September, but Lakhead's still gotta be the OUA favourite.

Other former Queen's Golden Gaels in the media:

Jeff Ovens took a job coaching a minor hockey team in the National Sports Academy system in Calgary, AB.

Wilder Weir is hosting his own TV show on the women's network called "Oh So Cosmo" and it isn't too bad, mostly a how-to-date show. It aired in 2007 on Wednesday's at 8:30pm.

Jonathan Asselstine is off to McGill for Law School, and good news for the Gaels, he has no eligibility left so he cannot play for the Redmen.

Michael De Lisio has completed a Master's in Exercise Physiology at McMaster in Hamilton.

Jamie Brock is coaching with the Oakville Blades in the OPJHL who won the 2008 Dudley-Hewitt Junior A championship for Ontario.

And three Gaels: Ryan Gibb, Brady Olsen and Neil Poulsen all have signed contracts in the Central Hockey League for 2008-2009. Poulsen is expected to be back in both American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League camps in October prior to his probably return to the CHL.

sager said...

Nice to see some OUA hockey followers commenting, we might have to keep more of an eye on the league this winter. And hopefully more Kingstonians will get out to see the Gaels, although it's a hard sell with the games off-campus. 800 people in the Mem Centre can feel awfully lonely.

Lakehead is supposed to have a good group coming in, but I have no basis for saying that. I know McGill lost Urquhart, one of the best D-men in the league.