This week, having no CC fan to Gauntlet, I found myself in dire straits. How could I disappoint my readers after such great Gauntlets as Boosh, BadgerBacker, and Cardinal? I was without a victim.
And then, like a sacrificial lamb, Elliot Olshansky, formerly of CSTV/The Rink Rat Blog (yes, that's right, I said FORMERLY) wanted me to do a tell-all after-school special/miniseries/epic novel (srsly, this interview is longer than war and peace, but tragically less violent) about his Very Special Story.
RWD: So what is the story over at CSTV? The big scoop you're providing me with?
EO: Well, there's reorganizing and restructuring, and it doesn't include me, that's the obvious part. There are a few news articles out there; I was one of 40 layoffs this past Wednesday. I'm not exactly sure what the plan is, generally speaking, but I'd be surprised to see CSTV.com last much past the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
RWD: Really? Even after they convinced all us bloggers to link to them? Because, you know, that was soooo succesful for me in terms of traffic. I feel like a dirty sell-out for doing that.
EO: Well, we did some good stuff.
RWD: Oh, definitely.
EO: It was worth the link.
RWD: I just don't know if it was worth the banner...
EO: You've got to admit, the logo looked cool.
RWD: One day, RWD will have a logo, too.
EO: Well, you have a good starting point with the UMD logo.
RWD: I'm certainly not above plagiarism.
EO: Well, you can expand on it... put the Bulldog head on a running dog of some sort. [What sort? Maybe a chihuahua or a Dalmatian?]
RWD: I make good spreadsheets and do complex calculations. I don't do "art."
EO: I'm not particularly artistic myself, but I learned my way around Photoshop pretty nicely in the last three and a half years. Of course, that was part of my job
RWD: Most of my Photoshop talents have revolved around doctoring photos of a few chosen St. Cloud fans.
RWD: I'm sure you know of whom I speak. [HockeyMom has also been an unfortunate victim.]
EO: Well, I like the St. Cloud fans.
RWD: I'm sorry to hear that.
EO: Well, the only fans I have a problem with are the ones who have a problem with me. And not even all of them.
RWD: Well, I could sit here and insult St. Cloud until the snowmobiles come home. I need a little more information about this "restructuring."
RWD: Do you really think we're going to see the end of CSTV?
EO: Well, on Tuesday, CBS announced that CSTV is changing its name to CBS College Sports. And I remember trying to figure out what the website name would change to. There's no good abbreviation for that. I mean, CBSCS.com? I worked that night until about 1 in the morning, came in at 12:30 or so the next day, after being on the Hockey East conference call that morning, and was asked to go meet with someone from HR. That was where it ended. I wasn't the only one that day; I was one of four from the site that day and as I said, 40 total cuts.
RWD: Are these cuts coming from all over? Or are more of them coming from the hockey area?
EO: It was all over. As I said, I don't know all the specifics, but I'd be very surprised to see CSTV.com last past the basketball tournament.
RWD: Which potentially means no coverage of the Frozen Four.
EO: Coverage by whom, exactly? Well, I suppose there is Starman. Of course, Dave is also USCHO's national columnist.
RWD: I think some drunken fans pulled from the stands and given beer money could help them out. Unless beer money isn't in the budget. [I'm waving in your general direction here.]
EO: Let's put it this way: One of my last weekend trips for CSTV.com saw me bumming a ride off of Bob Gaudet from Providence to Hanover over $31. I should also hasten to point out that I was already looking for a new job at the time I was let go. I wouldn't want anyone to think I didn't see the warning signs.
RWD: Smart man. I notice you didn't even get to post it on your blog.
EO: I've given some thought to that. I still have access to the blog account, unless I'm mistaken. Yep. Wait… strike that, I have a login, but no blogs. That’s a recent change.
RWD: Well, is there anything you want to say? Because RWD is the place to say it, without fear of repercussions or deletion.
EO: Well, obviously, the most important thing is to thank everyone who read the blog in the last two and a half years, whether they agreed or disagreed with the things I had to say. This is a really special community, and it's my privilege to be a part of it. Everyone's a part of that: players, coaches, SIDs, other members of the media, fans... We really do have something special here. I've had so many people to call and thank in the last few days... and I'm still not done. Of course, you make too many calls like that in too short a span of time, it gets kind of tough emotionally.
RWD: I can't imagine anything of the sort would occur if RWD would close its browser after 3 1/2 years. Mostly because my legions of fans do not know my phone number. [Actually, that’s a lie. I’d say that at least 50% of my regular readers could call/text me.] But if they did call, I can see how it would get to be sad. Blogging takes a lot of devotion.
EO: Well, the thing about what I did is that I had two roles...in addition to the blog, I was writing weekly columns, covering games, and reacting to news as it happened. And I've made most of these calls myself.
RWD: I see.
EO: I can count on one hand the people who have sought me out since this happened.
RWD: And I'm assuming you don't have some sort of mutant hand with 100 fingers. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
EO: Not even six like Count Rugen.
RWD: I'm a bit disappointed, because I was hoping for a bitter tirade railing against The Man. But I suppose you might be trying to find another job, which would make that a poor choice...
EO: Well, the most bitterness I've been able to muster in the last three days has amounted to six words.
RWD: "Why don't NoDak fans shut up?"
EO: "What a bunch of [fornicating] [rooster]-suckers."
RWD: Ohh that.
EO: And the truth is I'm not really angry at anyone in particular. The bottom line is that there is a bottom line, and I guess I wasn't contributing to it. That's disappointing, because I wish I could have, but it's not like there's anyone in particular I can get angry at over it.
RWD: And you don't anticipate any "hirings," do you? Like, a "replacement"?
RWD: Because that would make me bitter. More so than being let go for financial reasons.
EO: If for no other reason than there's really no one else who was in a position to do what I did. Actually, there is a group of people I haven't thanked yet that I really should... [All right, Sally Field, let’s get on with it!] My brothers in Sigma Nu fraternity. One of the things that made my travel possible was my willingness to crash at fraternity houses, and the frats' willingness to have me. Of course, some of that has to do with national policy. [A policy which also includes a minimum average blood alcohol level and a requirement that at least a medium-hot salsa will be used in all post-paddling ass-ointments.]
RWD: That is a willingness that very, very few people outside of college would have. Anyone who has seen the inside of a fraternity house would understand.
EO: The ones I stayed at, by and large, were pretty nice. [Clearly he’s never been to the houses at the University of Illinois.] Miami, in particular, has a huge, beautiful Sigma Nu house. Minnesota's has the advantage of being two blocks from Mariucci Arena. The only one I have any issue with at all would be Michigan State's.
RWD: So after living the college hockey fan's dream for a few years, what are you going to do now? Something similar, or something entirely different?
EO: Well, I want to stay involved in college hockey in some way, although more local, but the days of it being my main job are pretty well over. I do plan on staying in the media, although I'd like that to be in news. I was a government major in college, actually.
RWD: Do you think you'll start another blog?
EO: Wouldn't rule it out, but I need to see what the situation is with my main job. The other thing is that I need to figure out what it is that I can contribute in a blog form without going all over the way I did as the Rink Rat. That was the thing that was unique, being a national college hockey columnist who saw just about everyone. [Well, I am LIVING PROOF that one can blog without ANY media access.]
RWD: But don't you feel like you couldn't concentrate as much on your own favorites?
EO: Well, my favorite of favorites is still four hours and change away.
RWD: Bear in mind, I don't live in Duluth, so it is possible, but I suppose when you want to report "facts" and such, it's a little different.
EO: You have a pretty impressive attendance record at games, though, as I recall.
RWD: Personally? Not really. When we were in Denver, I was not included in the group that had made so many road trips.
RWD: This year I've been to... um... 4 dogs games, but it'll be 6 [maybe 7 if I can get someone to drive up with me this weekend!] by the end of the regular season, 1 gopher-tech game and 1 msum-yale game, plus the Final Five, of course.
EO: Of course... having been to the Final Five last year, I can understand where it would be hard to miss. As far as a bigtime conference championship atmosphere, the Final Five is very tough to beat, although Hockey East runs a pretty close second, in my experience. I can't comment on the CCHA, having never been. I was supposed to go this year, but, well... you know...
RWD: That whole not having a blogging job anymore thing.
EO: I would have loved that... you know they have a Media Game at the Joe after the press conferences on Thursday?
RWD: I would like to see some media folks play hockey. Pat Miller, for starters.
EO: Never actually met Pat... talked with him in December when he did some blogging for us. Never made it out to Grand Forks, which I'm actually somewhat relieved about. Tough to say, because there are some great folks at UND - especially Dan Benson, their SID, and if you've read enough of my stuff, you know I think the world of Ryan Duncan - but I would have had some serious issues setting foot in the Ralph.
RWD: What issues do you have with the Ralph? [It's got more marble than a Saddam Hussein palace!]
EO: I'm Jewish, so it's more my issues with Ralph than with The Ralph.
RWD: I guess I wasn't expecting you to say I'm Sioux or something.
EO: Not so much.
RWD: It would be more plausible if you said "I'm Iroquois" or something, being an eastern man and all.
EO: Well, I don't know if other tribes have issues with the Sioux thing. As the UND folks hasten to point out, a Chippewa artist drew the Sioux logo. Speaking of which, after last night's game against DU, I guess it's safe to say that the nickame and logo aren't all that's "hostile and abusive" in Grand Forks. [In case you missed that joke on The Rink Rat.]
RWD: Oh, that is merely the tip of the iceberg. But I won't get into that.
EO: Well, there's also the insistence by a number of Sioux fans that the CCHA teams are paper tigers.
RWD: Yeah, well, those individuals also think JPL should be the Hobey winner. And those individuals also pretty much left their team for dead in November.
EO: Really? Did the last two seasons teach them nothing?
RWD: I... can't even speak of it. I've never seen fans turn on their team in that way.
EO: The Rangers fans have been pretty brutal this season but then, so have the Rangers, at times.
RWD: Let me find out some of your favorites.
EO: OK, this should be fun. [You would think so, but yet it never is.]
RWD: Clearly the Rangers are your favorite pro team, but you hinted you have more than one favorite in college hockey.
EO: Well, Dartmouth is a clear favorite, for starters, as the alma mater. But Army is also up there with me and BU is another team that I've really enjoyed being around.
RWD: And who are your most hated rivals?
EO: Harvard. Harvard. Harvard. [What about Harvard?] And it's funny, because I've gotten to know some great folks from Harvard in the last couple of years. [Imagine that.]
RWD: Did you know that tUMD is the Harvard of the Midwest?
EO: Matt McConnell tried to convince me that that was Michigan State [well Matt McConnell had better get a clue!] and I responded with a joke at the expense of Justin Tobe [or not Tobe? That is the question.]
RWD: Who are your current favorites at Dartmouth?
EO: J.T. Wyman and Mike Devine. I haven't had that many opportunities to cover Dartmouth games up in Hanover while I've been at CSTV, but one of the ones I did make it to had Wyman playing on the blueline because of injuries. He was on the receiving end of a glass-breaking check that night.
RWD: I'm sure that tickled.
EO: It was kind of funny [I guess you had to be there], because he had just been moved back there that night. This was the Saturday after Thanksgiving last season. That was a fun trip... I spent Friday at RPI's tournament, stayed in the area, went up to Vermont for a Saturday afternoon game against Maine - and saw a camel on the side of the road on the way [Al Qaeda has invaded, people!]- and then headed down I-89 to Hanover for the 7 p.m. Dartmouth-Quinnipiac game. That was one of the things I enjoyed most: finding ways to see a lot of different teams in a short time span.
RWD: I once referred to your job as either my dream job or worst nightmare.
EO: I remember that, it was right after the DU game that we met before.
RWD: I said that aloud? I meant I said it on my blog. [Never. Drinking. Again.]
EO: No, I read it on your blog.
RWD: Ohhh. I was going to say, Goddard had been sending me free beers all night. I was accosting unsuspecting fans on the street. One of whom ended up being Co14ers.
EO: Ha. Sounds like the sort of thing Goddard would do; I mean this is the guy who went to the trouble of getting Ron Jeremy to show up to a DU alum event.
RWD: He is a generous man. A true American hero [I almost said he was The Class of tWCHA but we all KNOW that’s the Sioux fans!] AND the inspiration for the Gauntlet.
EO: What, seeing how many different ways he could find to make fun of CC in one interview?
RWD: First question I asked is if he became a DU fan when he got his rejection letter from CC.
EO: Very nice.
RWD: And now the Gauntlet is a national phenomenon. What team is your favorite in tWCHA?
EO: Denver, probably... [WRONG ANSWER!] Some of my favorite memories from CSTV have involved DU. Gwoz is a great interview.
RWD: Oh, Curious George. So dapper.
EO: And if you look at Seth Appert at RPI, he's clearly learned a thing or two in that department.
RWD: Don Lucia might agree.
EO: Don's grown on me a bit in the last couple of years.
RWD: You could say the same thing about flesh-eating bacteria. [Which you may catch in one of those frat houses down by Mariucci.]
EO: Well, being in the position of defending him during the Okposo/Snow situation changed my outlook a bit, although it also provided me with a pretty good joke about him. [Notice I didn’t bite here. I will not be baited!]
RWD: Well, what about Sandelin, where do you stand on him? If you can hear what he's mumbling, I mean.
EO: Well, he took the time to talk to me when I called him on his cell and he was in the middle of buying a TV.
RWD: A class act all the way. [Actually I hate when people talk on cell phones in stores. But I heart Sandy.]
EO: Absolutely. And both UMD games I covered in person at CSTV games were Bulldog losses, and he was never really tough to deal with after either one.
RWD: Well, thanks for cursing us!
EO: If I had been at the game against Vermont in '04 instead of the one in '05, you could have a case
RWD: What are you, Rain Man? How do you remember all these games?
EO: Well, UVM-tUMD in '04 is pretty hard to forget. I mean, No. 1 team in the country losing to a team that had struggled up to that point.
RWD: That was the beginning of the end. [:::Stabs fork in eye:::] AND IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT
EO: But I WASN'T THERE!
RWD: Oh. I... can't read
EO: I was at the one the next year, at the Gutt up in Burlington. It was homecoming at Dartmouth, and there were two WCHA teams playing within driving distance of Hanover that weekend. The Bulldogs were at Vermont, and North Dakota was at UNH. I went to UVM on Friday and UNH on Saturday. That's something that UMD and NoDak both deserve credit for: traveling east regularly. North Dakota especially.
RWD: No one who reads RWD needs to hear praise of UND.
EO: Well, it is important for teams to travel, I think. Both directions.
RWD: I agree coughGOPHERScough.
EO: Yeah, right? Although the UMD women's team had some issues in that department before this season.
RWD: Well, they have other issues now.
EO: So I've heard. That Frozen Four at the DECC should be fun. [I wouldn’t know.]
RWD: First the Thongs incident, now there's Russiagate. Other than your misguided man-crush on Ryan Duncan, what other WCHA players do you like?
EO: I do not have a man-crush on Ryan Duncan. If I were to have a man-crush on a college hockey player, it would be Ryan Jones... He’s a great player, a great leader, and he's donating that long hair of his to Locks for Love at the end of the season. But the WCHA... I like Peter Mannino. He's struggled lately, but he's certainly performed well enough over his career, and I like what he's done to try to bring back Denver Boone.
RWD: You said you loved [Duncan]! Er… You "think the world of him"
EO: Yes. Great kid. [We glossed smoothly over that one.]
RWD: So you like Manno and Boone... anyone else? I don't like this Rocky Mountain Bias
EO: Funny, the next name that came to mind was Chad Rau! The St. Cloud kids, Ryan Lasch and Garrett Roe in particular, made a real impression when I was up there in November. Mike Carman deserves a ton of credit for sticking it out at Minnesota.
RWD: Well, he needed to GET some credits to stay there...
EO: Obviously, it doesn't speak well that he got himself into that particular pickle, but the kind of accountability he showed by not running off to major junior when he found out he'd lose half a season that many hockey people think is too short in the first place is a rare thing. I'm in a tough spot where Duluth is concerned, because I was supposed to see the Bulldogs at Mariucci before this gig ended so abruptly, and the players who stick out the most from when I last saw the Bulldogs are getting paid to play these days. [No love for MC from this guy!]
RWD: Tragic! I was going to be at one of those games! Who are those players that stuck out for you? As if I can't guess.
EO: Mason Raymond and Matt Niskanen, of course.
RWD: Easy answers
EO: I see a fair bit of Raymond these days on podcasts.
RWD: Clearly tUMD is flying so far below the radar that they are not even ranked on your rankings.
EO: The whole point is that I only ranked teams I'd seen in person.
RWD: I see. So we would have had to wait until March for you to place tUMD atop the rankings.
EO: That was what separated the Rink Rat Rankings from all the other rankings out there... because I get the sense that at least some of the voters in the USCHO and USA Today polls haven't actually watched all the teams they're voting on.
RWD: Really? That would be SHOCKING. Simply SHOCKING.
EO: Ha...but when I ranked a team, whether you agreed or disagreed, you couldn't say I hadn't seen the team and put some thought into it, with one notable exception, that actually did involve UMD.
RWD: Do tell.
EO: Because of the way the rankings worked - with new teams being added every week - it was possible for a team to drop through no fault of its own. The weekend I saw UMD at Denver last season, I added the Bulldogs and CC to the Rankings (I saw Wisconsin at CC the next night).
RWD: Hah, what if your first game was UAH vs. Wayne State. That would be a great #1 and #2.
EO: Well, I only start once I've seen 10 teams, but because I'd added the Bulldogs and CC, Robert Morris dropped a couple of spots despite the fact that they'd swept Niagara that weekend (or maybe they'd taken three, I'm not sure). And Derek Schooley [Whose nickname is, I hope, Schooley D] actually got in touch with me to ask me why. Adam Wodon set it up as a practical joke. Told me to call Schooley because he had some big news, and what I got when I called was questions about why his team had dropped despite such a big sweep. I think there had also been another spot they dropped because someone had moved up, but the big moving factor for them was the addition of two teams who clearly would have beaten them.
RWD: I'm glad that you're not coming to see tDogs @ Mariucci this season though. We need that win!
EO: Gophers don't do particularly well in my presence at Mariucci, to be fair.
EO: I was at their 5-5 tie with St. Cloud in November '06
RWD: Well, a tie is not a loss. [Truer words were never spoken. And one is better than none, right Bruce?]
EO: and their sweep at the hands of DU this year.
EO: They played pretty badly in that game.
RWD: So I wonder what would prevail.
EO: That was when I got a lot of flak for questioning the Gophers' defense and goaltending. Oh, perish the thought that I should question Minnesota's goaltending.
RWD: How dare you. Briggs was stone cold solid. Frazee is a steel trap.
EO: Funny thing about Frazee.
RWD: I'm sure there are many funny things about him. [Many of them said by me!]
EO: The night of the Bina goal, Jon Quick from UMass gave up one almost as bad, and I was there for that. If Frazee hadn't given up that goal to Bina, Quick's goal would have been seen much more widely. It was against BU and Kevin Schaeffer made a long clear on the PK. Quick came out of the net to play it. He put his stick down on the ice to steady the puck, and wound up deflecting it back into his own net. It was the game-tying goal in a 3-3 game where BU came back from 3-0.
RWD: Hah, rough, a short-handed "own goal." [Nod to Bruce Ciskie.] But no one cares. Because the world revolves around UMTC. Even the Sioux fans' worlds revolve around UMTC.
EO: See, that was what I was thinking when I set up that interview with Phil Kessel before his freshman year. I thought it would be a major coup; instead, it turned into a major embarrassment.
RWD: Refresh the memory of my dear readers. [Which totally means “I don’t remember this interview ever happening and probably never heard about it."]
EO: It was my first foray into transferring files from my digital recorder onto the computer and uploading them for fans to listen to. (The file no longer exists, thankfully.) But there were two real problems, the first being that I hadn't done an interview for broadcast since high school and wasn't exactly polished.
RWD: Hah, well, look at Doug Woog.
EO: The other problem was that Phil wasn't exactly born to be interviewed. I asked him something about the Matrix, because of that whole thing going around with people calling him "The One."
RWD: Wow that sounds like something Bruce Ciskie would say (tUMD's radio play by play guy).
EO: I remember. I was on the air with him in the second intermission of that game at DU.
RWD: I just needed to make sure there was a shot at him here.
EO: And you also wrote something the next day about me dressing better than he does.
RWD: Yes. He was wearing sweatpants the first time I met him. TAPERED sweatpants. BLACK too-short tapered sweatpants with WHITE SOCKS. Anyway, what happened with Kessel
EO: It was just a very dead interview. He hadn't seen the Matrix in years [plus it totally sucked, and the next two movies weren’t any better], and couldn't remember a favorite scene.
RWD: Ha, I've had some Gauntlets like that. [Boosh.]
EO: I tried to salvage the question by asking, "Do you know kung fu?" That just made it worse
RWD: Oh my. Was this an in-person interview, too?
EO: Yes, at the Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, the summer before his freshman year.
RWD: Hah, he probably told the next guy you were crazy or something.
EO: Who knows? I saw him play last weekend for the Bruins… good to see things worked out for him, more or less. [Except for the whole cancer thing.]
RWD: Yeah, it's like he never existed in college hockey. Who knows, if he'd stayed, maybe we'd be saying "Oh my Kessel" instead of "Oh my Parise." [I never say that, btw. I could not possibly care less about either of them.]
EO: Ha, I put a line in an e-mail to Paula Weston that included a Parise-is-God joke. She was one of the ones who reached out to me after finding out what happened. [If you took this sentence out of context, you’d think that he had just survived a major disaster or something.] "However, while those [illegitimate children] can take my job - and really, I'd been looking for about a month already, having anticipated something like this when CBS took over the day-to-day operations - I'll be Zach-da[rn]ed (tee-hee) if they take me out of the game." [The media game at the Joe?]
RWD: I'm pretty much ready to wrap things up here, so I can get started on the voodoo that I do so well to make this a true "Gauntlet." Is there anything else you would like to tell the Internets? Any last parting shots you'd like to take to cause some drama? [I’m just begging here now.]
EO: I think the thing that's bothered me the most lately has been the way people have looked down their nose at CCHA teams, Miami in particular, because of a soft schedule.
RWD: Hah, well, you can be sure at least one regular critic of the CCHA is a reader of RWD.
EO: This may not be the most convenient time to say this, given what happened against Ferris State, but Miami is a legit team.
RWD: I can remember other teams that may have lost to Ferris State at crucial times.
EO: This is the way I look at it, and part of what I was trying to do with the Rink Rat Rankings: you can't just look at a team's record - and that includes the opponents - to get a sense of what kind of team a school has. You need to get a sense of what the team has going for it that's produced that record. From what I've seen out of Rico's guys, they'll be in Denver.
RWD: That's a great parting note. I want to thank you for giving me two and a half hours of your time and a great interview!
EO: Glad someone had use for my perspective on hockey this week!
19 February 2008
This week, having no CC fan to Gauntlet, I found myself in dire straits. How could I disappoint my readers after such great Gauntlets as Boosh, BadgerBacker, and Cardinal? I was without a victim.