Saturday, April 7, 2007

Fire Who? Comley sticks it to doubters

Former Michigan State head hockey coach, now MSU athletic director, Ron Mason summed it up best in his post game thoughts with ESPN following the Spartans, 3-1, come-from-behind victory over the Boston College Eagles in college hockey's national championship.

This has quieted all the critics.

Former Northern Michigan University coach Rick Comley became the third coach in college hockey history to capture a national title at two different schools Saturday. Comley guided the Wildcats to a national title in 1991 and has now taken the Spartans, a bubble team in 2006-07, to the top of college hockey.

It was a feat that some in East Lansing thought would never happen under Comley.

Up until Comley's Mason Cup Championship in March of 2006 with MSU, "Fire Comley" threads were a common occurrence on the fan forum. Often these moronic, bitter and cruel jabs at Comley were started mid-season by people who just couldn't get over the fact that Comley was not Mason.

The early struggles of Comley, specifically against his former Wildcats, were not because he was a poor coach. It was because the boosters didn't believe in him. The players didn't believe in him.

Those one the ice could not get over the fact that Comley was not Mason as well.

But Mason believed. Now both of them are celebrating in St. Louis tonight with one hand in the air for victory and a middle finger directed right at those who had no faith.

Many point to Michigan's Red Berenson as being the best coach in the CCHA. In college hockey, most worship the ground that Minnesota bench Don Lucia walks on.

But it's easy to be successful with NHL all-star teams. It isn't to win with blue collar workers. Those who the NHL has passed up on.

While Red Wing draftees Justin Abdelkader and Tim Kennedy clinched the title for MSU Saturday, it was undrafted players like 5-foot-6 netminder Jeff Lerg and the other 18 pro free agents. The core of the Spartans are players like Lerg, Daniel Vukovic, Chris Mueller, Tyler Howells, Ethan Graham and Bryan Lerg.

These are Rick Comley's players. They are not Ron Mason's. This is his title.

NHL prospects do not equal championship teams, something the Northern Michigan Wildcats have come to learn in 2006-07.

Recently NMU has strived to be like the Michigans and Minnesotas who feature future NHL line ups on the ice night in and night out. Instead, Northern should model itself after the 2006-07 Spartans or even the 1991 Wildcats.

They should model themselves after what Rick Comley had originally built in Lakeview Arena - the teams that Walt Kyle played for and coached as an assistant.

A lot can be learned from the 2006-07 National Champion Michigan State Spartans, not only by NMU but by college hockey as a whole.

Talent can only get you so far. Heart is what makes a champion.

And also, think twice before you start a "Fire ______" thread on the fan forum. You could be the next one called out on ESPN.

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