VIP Mailbag: Hockey Captains? Referee Systems? First Practice Thoughts?


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

Note: Portions of these questions could be edited for length 

Q. Who do you think will wear captain letters for Merrimack this season?

McMahon: Michael Babcock will more than likely wear the captain’s “C”. I noticed after the coaching change that Babcock seemed to be the one that took control from a player perspective, and made sure everything was in working order from a team standpoint. My impression, talking to some of the coaches and others around the program, is that he has continued to take on a big leadership role throughout the summer and now into the preseason.

As for who could be assistant captains, it’s hard for me to say. I’m not sitting in the locker room every day, so my perspective is only based on limited interview interaction, as well as what we see on the ice. From that standpoint, my guess is that the candidates would include Johnathan Kovacevic, Derek Petti, Tyler Irvine and Alex Carle.

Q. Did you notice anything different about the rink when you were there for practice (this week)?

McMahon: Not really. The Hockey East 35th Anniversary logo was painted behind the nets, but other than that, things looked to be the same in the arena itself. There have been some rumblings that a new lighting system could be installed before the start of the season, but that had not happened yet, and I’m not sure if it’s still scheduled or not.

Q. What were your impressions of the practice you did watch (saw you were there on Twitter)?

McMahon: I didn’t stay for the entire practice, but one thing I noticed is that they went into battle drills right away. They didn’t waste a lot of time. As soon as they stepped on the ice they went into battle drills and those battle drills continued for most of the practice; 1-on-1’s, etc. It was hard to tell players apart, because not all of the new Under Armour practice gear was in yet, so some players weren’t wearing correct numbers. One early player who stood out was Matt McArdle, the transfer defenseman from Lake Superior State. He was good on 1-on-1 drills, holding shooters outside of the slot as they would try to drive on him.

Q. On your story on the referee situation with non-conference games, do you think that this is the first step in the NCAA handling all of the officiating? 

McMahon: It could be. There are some officials who I’ve spoken to who would welcome a change like this, and there are others who believe there are too many hurdles for lthe leagues to ever come to a concrete agreement, giving total control over to the NCAA. The biggest issue is pay, from what I’m told. Hockey East pays referees around $385 per game, I’m told (linesmen make around $180). The Big Ten and NCHC pay their referees closer to $500 per game, but that’s in part because of larger television revenue. The ECAC pays similar to Hockey East, while it sounds like Atlantic Hockey is slightly less (around $325 according to one referee).

That is a pretty significant hurdle. But we’ll see where the process goes. They could just agree to use neutral crews for non-conference games, but essentially keep the structure of referees being assigned to particular leagues as it is now.

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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