Monday, January 30, 2012

Jerry York Interview

At long last, I'm happy to give our readers part one of a two part interview with Coach Jerry York.  I really hate to split these interviews into smaller parts, but if I try to put the full 15 minutes into a single blog post, the result is simply just too unwieldy and way too long for the blog format. 

I really appreciate Coach York taking some time out of his day to meet with me, especially considering the fact that it's nearly playoff time.  I've always admired the class with which Jerry York coaches his team.  He's always calm, respectful to everyone he meets, and represents the university incredibly well at the highest level.  Jerry York is really the embodiment of what Boston College is trying to accomplish.  As always, special thanks to Mr. Tim Clark for helping me set this up.

Thank you so much for sitting down with me today, Coach.  Could you talk to me for a second about the goalie situation?

Sure.  It's an interesting situation, the dynamics of our positional depth chart in goal.  Over the last number of years, starting with Scott Clemmensen, and then Cory Schneider, and then Johnny Muse, we basically had one goaltender, or an "A-Goaltender," and he bascially played every single game.  And we never really thought about who was going to play goal on Friday night and then who was going to play goal on Tuesday night. 

You know, there would be some injury situations within that time span with those three goaltenders, or maybe some of them got tired and needed some rest, but this July, when we sat down as a staff and looked at our team, we certainly thought that would be one of the critical areas for us, you know: "Who's going to replace the minutes that John Muse gave us?" 

We had our four goaltenders in the mix, and to be quite honest with you we weren't sure who would be the goaltender who could step forward.  What's basically happened is that through the training camp and through the first 25 games of our season, is that not one goaltender has stepped up and said "hey, I'm the 'A-Goaltender.'  My stats, my win-loss record...I'm clearly above the other three."  It's been a situation where our goaltending is good, but it's to the point where we don't really know who is our very best goaltender...Who should play the playoff games, for example, when we look into March, and hopefully into April.  So it's a continual process that we evaluate during the week of practice, when we watch games...but really right now it's a two-way battle, I think, at this stage. 

Our freshman, Brad Barone, is going to play goaltender for us at some stage, but not this year.  But I think he's got the potential to be a Hockey East goaltender.  Chris Venti, our senior, has played a couple of games, but I think at this juncture, it's kind of a competitive battle between our freshman Brian Billet and Parker Milner, and nobody has the next chapter to read.  We're just trying to evaluate and watch them, because there's a lot of growth during the course of the year, through October until April, and we're trying to evaluate that.  We would love to get a better handle on it, but we need somebody to step up and say "hey, I'm the guy."

What do you think of our chances this year come national tournament time?

You know, I think it depends a lot on two factors; whether we can cut down on the turnovers that we've been plagued with for most of the year.  If we can eliminate turnovers from our game, that would put less stress on our goaltending.  And I think that's a combination that, if we can solve that; offensively have the puck and make safer plays, and not turn the puck over, which puts our goaltenders, which is certainly not the bigger strength of our team, in a situation where they're outnumbered on rushes; two on ones, three on ones...And it's a harder, and more complex, issue than just saying "okay we're going to eradicate that," but certainly if we can solve that, stopping turnover-to-odd-man-rushes, then I think we're capable of putting together a pretty good run.

What's your typical day like around here?

It varies according to the time of year and where we are in our season.  If I could say a basic type of day, it would be a 10:00 meeting with our coaches, reviewing yesterday's practice, preparing for today's practice, talking about our upcoming opponent, and then, every single day is with our recruit board; Where are we with our recruits?  For this year and for next year...Where are our strengths and our weaknesses?  How are we trying to handle that?  Who is graduating?  Who might turn pro?  What group of recruits do we need to come in in order to replace those departing players?  And then we meet as a team at 2:30, review what is basically a state-of-the-union address every day, look at our films maybe, some motivational films if we want, and prepare for that day's practice.  And then they go on the ice probably right around 3:00, everyday. 

So how do you approach recruiting?  You seem to have been very successful with it over the years and BC seems to be never rebuilding but always reloading...Is there a certain type of player that you like to key on?

We're trying to get a player that can certainly help us win games at this level, but that can also fit into our Boston College community as far as social demands here, academic demands here, and what positions we have available.  Sometimes we might have the best goaltender prospect available but have Schneider as a sophomore, so it's not a good fit for us.  Same with forwards and defense, depending on where we are with those positions.  Just as broad of a scope as we can with our recruits...Wherever we feel the best players are.  They could be in Watertown.  They could be in Spokane.  It varies each year.

So it seems that BC consistently plays its best hockey from Beanpot time on each year.  Is that something you try to build up to, or is it just something that seems to naturally happen? 

Well, I think that you can't count on that fact, saying "oh, the Beanpot's coming" and all of a sudden escalate our game.  We want to continually get better from October, through the practices, the games, the travel, both as a team chemistry aspect and with our team unity...Our skills should be better because we're practicing an awful lot.  Our team play is always something that we feel should be better as the season goes on, but I feel that a lot of coaches probably feel that way. 

You start each year with a different team.  You try to take that team and you want to be at your very best as your approach the key parts of our season.  You mentioned the Beanpot, and the Hockey East playoffs, hopefully national tournaments and on...So those would be our objectives, but you can't all of a sudden say "hey it's..." We've got to show improvement everyday.

Check back in for Part II tomorrow...

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