VIP Mailbag (12/5): Questions on 2005 coaching search, TV games & more


The Mailbag feature is exclusively for TMR VIP supporters. During the hockey season, this feature will run at least once per week (maybe more, depending on questions) and in the offseason, the mailbag will be posted whenever there are enough questions to fill up a post! To submit a question for the mailbag, email

Q. Why aren’t there more games on NESN? Not just Merrimack but in the whole league?

NESN doesn’t want to pay for broadcasts anymore. It’s as simple as that. The games you will see on NESN are paid for by the schools. The schools pay for the production and the schools pay for the announcers, etc. That’s why you’ll see most of the commercials are for one school over the other (usually the home team) and the graphics, etc. are all based on the home team. It’s essentially a home team broadcast.

The way it works, the schools are buying the time on NESN and producing the games themselves. In many ways, it works the same as an infomercial.

The HEA tournament and Beanpot are still NESN productions, but that’s it.

Q. If you’re Borek, where do you even start with goalie this weekend after giving up so many goals the last few weeks?

Easy … Craig Pantano.

He struggled against Providence three weeks ago, but he was very good against Holy Cross and was fine after relieving Halladay on Friday night.

Q. Do you still think Oliver Wahlstom leaves BC? 

Yep, I think there’s a chance. We’ll see what happens over the semester break while Wahlstrom is at the World Junior Championships. I think it’s 50/50, honestly.

Q. Do you anticipate any Merrimack players going to the World Juniors? Saw the Finland announcement on Twitter and did not see Tavernier. I know he was a candidate a few years ago.

Tavernier is too old for the tournament now. There aren’t any under-20 players on Merrimack’s roster who are candidates.

Q. Before Matt Foget when is the last time Merrimack lost a player to major junior? Logan Hutsko leaving BC got me thinking.

Well first, it wasn’t Hutsko who left BC, it was Jacob Tortora 🙂

Prior to Foget, the last player to jump to major junior was Jeff Caron. He was a defenseman who left in 2005 after Mark Dennehy got the Merrimack job. Caron was a fan of John McLean, and when McLean wasn’t retained, Caron left for the Saint John Sea Dogs, a team in the QMJHL that played in his hometown.

Q. Random question but who were the finalists when Mark Dennehy was hired? Looking back I wonder if we can say for sure Dennehy was the best choice at the time or looking back was there another obvious candidate we should have hired? Like, was Nate Leaman a candidate for Merrimack and we passed over on him for Dennehy?

The final three candidates were Dennehy, Bruce Crowder (former Northeastern head coach) and then Clarkson assistant Greg Drechsel; neither of the latter went on to be head coaches. Mike Cavanaugh was reportedly a candidate when Dennehy was hired but he wasn’t a finalist, and he’s the only one on the list who went on to have a head-coaching job. Other candidates included some alumni that, quite frankly, I don’t think were good choices (just based on previous experience). Bobby Jay and Chris Kiene were both involved in the process and they were assistant coaches at the time. Volunteer assistant coach John McLean wanted the job, but that didn’t make much sense (in my mind). Dennehy was a relative unknown when they hired him, but looking back, the only guy who I think you can make a case for is Cavanaugh, and who knows if he would have been as effective at Merrimack as he was at UConn 10 years later (with more experience).

Q. Do you think the number of kids committing is an indicator that there will be some roster cuts after this season?

I’ve addressed this in previous mailbags, but I think that’s possible. Basing it on what we’ve seen with other programs, we saw some cuts happen at UMass, RPI, Niagara, and others in recent years. I’m not going to speculate on where those cuts might occur — it’s not appropriate during the season — but I do think we’ll see some roster movement on top of just standard graduation.

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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