I didn’t have time to update the blog more yesterday but a day after Bemidji State named Jim Scanlan the fifth women’s hockey coach in the program’s history, I have a little more time to talk about the hire.
In short: I kind of thought this was a no-brainer for BSU.
I know many in the college hockey world — at least, those outside of Bemidji — were thinking that former Minnesota State men’s coach and current Nebraska-Omaha assistant Troy Jutting was the clubhouse leader. That makes sense, considering he has name recognition and has friends on the BSU coaching staff.
By all accounts, Jutting would have been a great coach (and also a great quote).
But I don’t know if he was a great fit for the Beaver women’s team.
Yeah, he was a name that might have filled seats at the Sanford Center, but he’d never coached women or girls hockey at any level and his connections to BSU were negligible.
That’s why I think Scanlan was the best choice for the job.
Assistant coach Amber Fryklund — also a finalist for the job — also would have been a good choice, but it seems like Scanlan’s connections were very important.
As I mentioned in my story in today’s paper, Scanlan seemed to know everyone in the room at Tuesday’s press conference (which was fairly crowded for a press conference at 3 p.m. on a nice day outside).
And if he didn’t know them, he seemed to know of them.
Obviously knowing people isn’t everything in coaching — the actual, you know, coaching, is the primary concern, or it should be.
But don’t count out the fact that Scanlan is very familiar with Bemidji, and the Minnesota girls college hockey scene in general, when it comes time to recruit players to play for the Beavers.
BSU still has trouble getting the top, top recruits from the girls prep hockey ranks — it seems that Minnesota, Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota scoop them up pretty quickly.
Scanlan seems like the kind of guy who will be able to sell potential recruits on Bemidji right away, just because he’s so personable and genuine. He obviously has a passion for hockey, for BSU and for Bemidji and I think it shouldn’t be a problem for him to convince recruits that Bemidji is the place for them.
He talked about that during his press conference:
“We all know what a special place this is,” he said. “It’s our job to bring the girls up and show them what a place this can be. But obviously being successful certainly helps. When girls come here on a recruiting trip and see a team that believes in themselves and believes in each other, I think athletes want ton be part of something special. If we can create that culture here it’s going to be easier to bring top-flight girls here.”
The Beavers were much more competitive this past season (11-21-4 overall 8-17-3 WCHA) than they were in 2012-13 (when they finished 6-26-2 overall). But BSU hasn never finished above .500 in the 17-year history of the program; and the best finish was a 17-17-3 record in 2011-12. Even that year the team failed to finish in the top-half of the ultra-competitive WCHA.
I don’t know if it will be automatic, but the team has a foundation in place to at least finish above fifth place for the first time ever. The question is when it will happen. I think with Scanlan the answer will be “very soon.”