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100% agree there should be answers (and corrections) by ndmd99
But it seems everyone has pitchforks out without considering the root causes. And lots of demands to "fix it" without realizing it realistically takes years to address roster issues in NCAA hockey (which is why I wanted to point out Cooley/McGroarty/Pastujov were all commits in 2018 -- a major criticism of JJ was not capitalizing in recrutiing on our Frozen Four success).
Already explained Pastujov. There was no way to predict it. We even had the kid on campus in August 2021 when it happened. I don't even know what could be done to prevent it from happening again. And the excuse was Ducks preferred the OHL because of the specific skating coach (which means it theoretically would've happened regardless of where Pastujov was enrolled). I'm all ears if anyone can explain how that's JJ's fault (or how it could be prevented in the future).
McGroarty in interviews openly admitted a big attraction to ND was the stud recruiting class that getting put together. He decommitted soon after the Pastujov issue. Michigan had back-to-back stud classes lined up. Those classes would've been impossible in normal years due to scholarship limits, but COVID came along at the right time (BTW August 2020 Matty Beniers needed a place to play since Ivy League was shut down -- we made a strong push, but he ended up in Ann Arbor). Michigan was aided heavily by Pat Brisson who pushed kids to MI to join his son. It was a confluence of freak events (Pastujov leaving, COVID, and an NHL super-agent recruiting kids to Michigan) that likely led to McGroarty decommiting. What should JJ do to prevent this from happening again? I'm all ears...
Cooley was almost certainly a product of McGroarty/Pastujov leaving as well as his rapid improvement in draft status. He did an interview with NHL.com the week before signing day that said he was going to ND.....but then he didn't sign just days later. He shopped around for months while while still brandishing ND on NTDP lineup cards. It was a turd sandwich that snowballed from random uncontrollable events that will likely never happen again.
Like most on here, I had concerns there was something poisoning the program. Danny Nelson was my litmus test.
He isn't a top 10 prospect like Cooley, but he is probably in the 2nd round range. He had plenty of options. Gopher fans targeted him as the key recruit after MN HS tourney last year. His brother signed but stayed in USHL for a second year (the initial plan was only 1 year in USHL). But clearly Danny and the family trust JJ and ND because he committed in August and signed his LOI a couple months later.
Overall (despite the decommit problems earlier) we put together a very good group of commits last fall. Star ratings are pretty stupid and unreliable for hockey, but I believe Nelson/Stewart/Belle were 4.5 stars, Pardue/Mackie 4 stars, and Bartell 3.5 stars. And Kempf may be the first goalie on the team that gets drafted since Cal Peterson.
That class also shows me one of the first changes to "fix" things -- avoiding the mega stud 5 stars for the time being (although Belle might be the type of player that ends up a first rounder). I 100% agree with that strategy (at least for the short term). We need to get back on track ASAP and can't risk another "Cooley" or "Fowler" decommit in the near future. Once things get stabilized, then maybe push for the 5 stars again.
Cooley/McGroarty/Pastujov all committed before the recent recruiting timeline changes. Those changes alone should help "fix" things too (it's a heck of a lot easier for both player and coach to predict expectations/roster to a 16 yo that may be on campus in 2 years than a 14 yo who won't be on campus for 4 years).
It looks like there is a push to recruit more of the local Chicago kids too as a "fix". 2021 commits Slaggert/Fischer/Ali and 2022 commits Kempf/Pardue/Bartell are all products of the Chicago Mission program. We'll have more Chicago-area kids on the roster than I can ever remember.
The portal was great for us in 21-22. But it sucked in 22-23. It remains to be seen, but the next "fix" I expect will be avoiding the portal. Looking at the roster, unless Bischel doesn't come back for a 5th year I don't think we'll need the portal. If we dip heavy into the portal again I'll get my pitchfork out and join you guys LOL.
I also expect a "fix" with play style. It started in 21-22, but for the most part we mostly reverted to a very conservative game in 22-23 just to get wins. Although I have to say I thought we played a great game on Sunday despite the loss -- recruits/NHL/agents want to see us play that way.
Overall I also think we're just frustrated fans. At the end of the day, I expect JJ will retire whenever he feels ready (maybe it's this year or maybe it's 10 years -- and maybe he's "encouraged" to retire by leadership). We've seen the multi-year setbacks that occur with recruiting disruptions, so if we're smart we'll try to keep Slaggert around in some capacity. But I'll be fine if we jettison Pooley into the sun.