Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Ramsey: Haviland could be right man for CC hockey job - even if you haven't heard of him

By David Ramsey Updated: May 9, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Ken Ralph declined to travel the popular route when he placed the Colorado College hockey program in the hands of Mike Haviland.

For four weeks, I listened to CC fans offer names of their favored candidates to succeed Scott Owens. CC assistants Eric Rud and Joe Bonnett. Former Denver coach George Gwozdecky. Minnesota assistant Mike Guentzel. UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin and Union College coach Rick Bennett.

Nobody mentioned Haviland, most likely because nobody knew of his existence. This means there will be no dancing on Cascade Avenue as news of Haviland's arrival sweeps the city and CC's campus.

Ralph made a daring move, one that will define his reign as CC's athletic director. He better be correct in placing his faith in Haviland.

For his own future as CC's athletic director. And for the future of a hockey program in decay.

Possessing a big name doesn't always translate into producing victories. And being a relative secret doesn't doom a new coach.

In late January 1959, thousands of Green Bay Packers fans were upset to learn the name of their new coach. This man had never served as a head coach above the high school level.

His name was Vince Lombardi, and we all know how that one turned out.

Early in the 1981-82 season, the Lakers fired head coach Paul Westhead and elevated an assistant who had spent his NBA playing career sitting the bench. Fans were bewildered by the promotion of Pat Riley, then best known as the Lakers former broadcaster.

Haviland arrives fresh from Hershey, Pa., where he led the Bears of the American Hockey League. Haviland directed the Bears to a respectable 39-27 record, but failed to earn a berth in the AHL playoffs.

He's spent most of his recent coaching career working behind the scenes as an assistant. The most impressive detail on his resume is his work as an assistant for Chicago's 2010 Stanley Cup winners.

We'll find out later if Ralph made the right choice, but Haviland made a brilliant decision in agreeing to oversee the wounded Tigers. CC will struggle to play more poorly next season than they did this season. The Tigers stumbled to seven wins in 37 games. The new coach will almost certainly be seen as the leader of an improved team. I believe the Tigers are fully capable of winning eight games next season.

This is a primo job. The Broadmoor World Arena is among the finest college hockey venues, and it's an easy drive from the CC campus. Maybe a few CC students will even bother to take the drive next season.

Colorado Springs ranks as the best destination in the college game, with Denver a close second. When it's 28 below and gloomy in the flatlands of Grand Forks, North Dakota, it's often 55 and sunny in the Springs with the added attraction of a glorious mountain backdrop.

If Haviland knows what he's doing, he can convince the best young talent in North America to play at World Arena.

For many years, Owens and his staff roamed the United States and Canada and discovered a collection of hockey's most promising stars. Marty Sertich. Brett Sterling. Matt Zaba. "Super" Joe Howe. Mark Stuart. The Schwartz brothers, Jaden and Rylan.

Owens' diligent labor is over, and he's resting in an undisclosed location, most likely in the mountains of Colorado.

Haviland, not exactly a big name in college hockey, arrives to tackle a massive task.

Weary, discouraged CC fans hope Ralph made the right choice.

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Twitter: @davidlukeramsey

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