Frozen Four Storylines
CHN Staff Report
Mark Johnson did all right for himself after being passed over for the men's head coaching job that went to Mike Eaves four years ago. Son of Badger coaching legend Bob Johnson, an NHL star, and 1980 U.S. Olympian, Mark Johnson went on to lead the Wisconsin women's program to a national championship. And now Wisconsin is the first-ever program to have a men's and women's champion in the same year.
And as for all the rumors that Johnson and Eaves had "issues" in recent years — those have been dispelled recently, and this year, probably puts it to bed once and for all.
"I'm happy for Mike, happy for the program, but most importantly, I'm happy for the fans," Johnson said after Saturday's final. "Badger fans are unique. I recall in '72 and '73 out in Boston, they know how to have a good time, they support their team. It's what college hockey is all about.
"I know if my dad were around right now, he'd be around and cheering and smiling just as hard as anyone out there. It's been dry for a while, and now we have a trophy, and it's something a lot of people can be happy about."
Johnson affirmed that his relationship with Eaves is solid, and he watched today's final sitting beside Eaves' wife.
"It's part of sports. We both played in the NHL a long time, we've been involved in trades," Johnson said. "The thing people don't realize is, we've known each other for 30 years — we're getting old. I came in as a skinny little freshman, and he was captain of the team and we won a national championship together. We played pro hockey together. Mike's wife is from Madison, her father coached at the university. There's a lot of ties there. There's one thing about friendship, if it's strong, it survives.
"And now we're going to the White House together now."
As for that women's team, men's captain Adam Burish can finally be on equal footing with his sister, Nikki, who was on the women's team. She wasn't letting him hear the end of it for a week, so maybe for Adam Burish, the win was a relief more than anything.
"It was good to get to see her. She came down on the ice and we got our picture taken together," Burish said. "It's something we can celebrate the rest of our lives."
Of all the names bandied about as possibilities to leave school early for the pros, BC's 6-foot-7 junior forward, a former first-round pick of the L.A. Kings, seemed among the most likely. But he wasn't talking that way after Saturday's loss.
"We had a lot of young guys who came a long way this year, and we expect them to go farther next season and we can get right back here," Boyle said.
Does that mean he's coming back?
"I plan on being back next year, I haven't spoken with the Kings at all," Boyle said. "I like where I am at Boston College. It would take a tremendous, tremendous amount for me to leave school."
Of course, Boyle could be offered that "tremendous amount" he's referring to.
"There's a lot of intangibles too at Boston College that you can't get anywhere else. I have one more year left there and it's pretty valuable to me."
Chris Collins was undrafted, and didn't do a whole lot to wow scouts in his first three years with the Eagles. But his breakout season got him plenty of looks, and now he can decide what to do with his agent, Steve Bartlett.
"I'll probably find out tonight or tomorrow," Collins said. "(Barlett has) kept it to himself the entire time. I've been focused on the Frozen Four. But I'm excited — as down as I am, I'm excited to move on to the next level."
There are some wacky rules this year because of the transitional collective bargaining agreement currently in place in the NHL, so whether Collins gets a crack at it this season or not remains to be seen.
"It's been such a long ride, and I've been on overdrive all year, it might be nice to take some time off, but it's a dream to play (in the NHL), too," Collins said.
Collins, who fell just short of a Hobey Baker Award, said all the hoopla from Friday was a bit of a distraction, but a welcome one.
"The thing is, you've got to deal with one more event, which is tough," said Collins. "It's more publicity. But I'm not going to say I didn't like it, because it was a dream come true to be involved in that final three there. It was a weekend I'll never forget. And we came within an eyelash, so you've got to be proud of it."
Ben Eaves, whose pro season was cut short by injury, has been hanging around his alma mater, Boston College. Both Ben and younger brother Patrick played for the Eagles, while dad was coaching Wisconsin. Ben Eaves had to stay tight-lipped all week about the interesting dichotomy.
After the game, he congratulated his dad, and also consoled his old friends.
"He came down to locker room afterwards; we didn't really talk there was a lot of hugs and tears," said BC senior Peter Harrold. "I am sure he is a little bit happy for his dad but not that much."
Meanwhile, Patrick scored his 19th goal of the season Saturday night for the Ottawa Senators, and former Badger Dany Heatley had an assist on another Ottawa goal.