May 14, 2014 Updated: May 14, 2014 at 8:01 pm
Mike Haviland talks often about winning a national championship at Colorado College. This is a sure way to draw applause.
But he must realize, somewhere deep in his hockey soul, how far he stands from his vision.
"The goal here, and make no mistake, is to contend for the national championship each and every year," Haviland proclaimed Tuesday to a true-believer crowd at CC. Those bold words, and Haviland's East Coast voice, beckoned memories of John F. Kennedy's promise to place Americans on the moon before the end of the 1960s.
The reality here, and make no mistake, is a program that crawled to seven wins in 37 games with seven of those losses coming by four or more goals. At this point, a national title is as likely as a trip to the moon.
But this is the time to talk about big visions. CC fans don't want to hear about reality, a depressing topic. They want to hear about possibility.
And Haviland is eager to talk about a future filled with studious young men leading the Tigers to an endless string of victories. He even promises a national title as the final destination after all this fun. He's unfazed by last season's collapse and the immense challenge of constructing a mighty hockey team comprised of genuine students.
He's not worried CC has won one - count 'it - NCAA Tournament game since 2005. He's blissfully unconcerned the Tigers last reigned over college hockey in 1957, when Kennedy was a senator from Massachusetts with vague hopes of serving as our nation's president.
He talks instead about "the change that is going to happen."
The Tigers, he insists, will be the nation's "hardest-working team." This will not be an easy title to claim. Every college hockey coach in America, including Air Force's Frank Serratore, believes he will produce the nation's most diligent ice laborers.
Still, Haviland's promises remain within the realm of possibility. This is an era when dreamers double as realists in college hockey, especially for a program of CC's makeup. Union College, an academically demanding liberal arts institution with 2,000 students, just won the NCAA title with a roster lacking in big-time recruits and NHL prospects.
"If Union College wins the national championship, there's no way Colorado College can't win the national championship," Haviland said.
I don't share his certainty, but Haviland has a point. The model is there. Union College coach Rick Bennett took a methodical approach to crafting the nation's best team. CC can travel the same road.
"Develop kids over a longer stretch," said CC athletic director Ken Ralph. "We can do that here. We know we can do that here."
These are fun times on Cascade Avenue. CC's new hockey coach doesn't hint at maybe someday, somehow winning a national title.
He boldly and constantly promises one.
On Tuesday, this new coach wore a borrowed yellow tie as he talked about the boundless wonders awaiting CC fans.
Now all he must do is deliver those wonders.