Friday 31 May 2013

Tommies fall further behind as Troy Ryan resigns

What can you say about this one?  The guy who was brought in to help bring the Tommies back to respectability is gone.  You know what I can't believe?  How do you take a gentleman from saying that University hockey is his dream job - his NHL - and get him to walk away?  I know where my finger is pointed and I am sick and tired of it.  I will always be a Tommies fan but enough is enough.

I want to wish Troy Ryan all the best in his career where ever it may take him.  St. Thomas' loss is someone else's gain.

The following story was in today's Daily Gleaner.

Troy Ryan steps down as STU men's hockey coach

 | Ryan resigns, says Tommies no longer 'the best fit'



Troy Ryan has resigned as head coach of the St. Thomas University men's hockey team.

After two years of trying to rebuild the program, Ryan informed STU athletic director Mike Eagles last Friday he was done and gave his official two weeks' notice on Thursday, forfeiting the final year of his three-year contract.

Though neither Ryan or Eagles would comment on what exactly went wrong between Ryan and the Tommies' organization, Ryan said it just wasn't a good fit anymore.

'You're always optimistic that, and it's not placing blame, but that things would get better or things would change, or I would get better at dealing with certain situations,' Ryan said
 in an interview Thursday.

'It just got to the point where I didn't think it was the best fit. Whether I wasn't the best fit or they weren't the best fit for me, it's time to leave.' STU hired Ryan to rebuild the struggling Tommies, who hadn't made the Atlantic University Sport playoffs since 2008 and finished in last place two years in a row before Ryan got there. He was 8-42-6 in his two years at the helm and though the Tommies struggled this year, he and Eagles agree the program is in much better shape than before Ryan took over.

'I expected more out of this year's team for a number of reasons, but I am proud of a lot of things off-ice and just starting to build a foundation,' said Ryan. 'If there was a quick fix (to rebuild a team), I would have thought of it, but there's not.

'The ideal thing in the AUS is you build a strong foundation. You try to build the hockey schools and the culture around your team, build the
 community involvement and build the alumni relations. One of the big mistakes that we made, or that I made, is you need to bring people in from the outside into your program.' Ryan made no secret of the fact that he was excited to return for a third year at the end of last season, noting that with a few good recruits, the team could have a good year, and successful programs don't happen overnight.

'It's OK to disagree, and ultimately I'm an employee of the university

you're never going to agree on everything. That's just the nature of the beast and that's part of coaching hockey,' Ryan said. 'Some things were obviously too difficult to overcome. There was no one thing; it was assessing the situation.

'It's trying to decide whether I could have enough of an impact on everything to make this successful. When you decide yourself that you're not going to have enough of an impact to accomplish what you want to accomplish, why are you doing it?'
 Ryan said he has no bad blood toward the program and is comfortable leaving with the effort he put in. In terms of building a foundation for the future of the Tommies, he helped increase fan support in the Grant*Harvey Centre - STU averaged 228 more fans than last year.

He also brought in a number of essential players to the program, a quality that made him attractive to STU in the first place. One of his high points was finding and recruiting AUS rookie goaltender of the year Jonathan Groenheyde from the Western Hockey League.

'I'm very happy under the model at St. Thomas of some of the recruits I was able to bring in,' Ryan said. 'I don't think I'm bigger than any of this. I agree I was headed in the right direction, I wanted our wins and losses to be better, but as far as the off-ice things I'm very happy with that. I'm comfortable with those things I was
 able to control.' Eagles said he was both surprised and disappointed by Ryan's decision and respects it. He said he's happy with the building blocks Ryan put in place for the Tommies program. 

'I think Troy had a positive impact on our program,' Eagles said. 'You can look at some of the relationships he's built in the community. His team was very community-minded. Certainly that's a real credit to him as a coach to have his guys commit to do that type of community-oriented work. 

'Also, part of the corporate success we've had in terms of Grant*Harvey and the sponsorship that comes with being in there, and I certainly give credit to Troy in helping us build those relationships.' Now the search begins for Ryan's successor. 

Eagles said he and Lily Fraser, STU vice-president finance and administration, will first look at the candidates who applied in 2011 and see if there's anybody who's both available and interested. Reopening the position for new applicants would take a substantial amount of time, and in the heart of the recruiting season, Eagles said they would like to get a new coach as soon as possible. 

Ryan will assist in the transition process and Eagles said he hopes to use him based on his 'good judge of character and talent.' Eagles said he's looking for a coach who's a talented recruiter, someone who can rebuild the program, who's community-oriented and someone who has a good hockey mind. 

'Recruiting is the name of the game in university hockey,' said Eagles. 'Time is a little more of the essence. Based on the stuff in 2011, we'll go back through the potential candidates and see what we have and make an educated decision on how to move forward.' Meanwhile for Ryan, the next chapter is yet to be written. While no formal talks have taken place, he's exploring possible coaching opportu nities in Junior A as well as the Canadian Hockey League. 

For certain players who Ryan recruited, their futures are uncertain. Ryan brought in players whom he had previously coached, such as John MacDonald, Jordan Thomas and Robert Zanbeek, promising them playing time. After seeing his players grow and develop this year, Ryan is confident they'll be impact players under their new coach. 

'If this would have happened last year, I would have been worried for John, Jordan and Zanbeek,' he said. 'But those guys have proven themselves. The new coach, whoever they may be, should honour the commitments that have been made to those guys. They've earned their spot to be there. They don't need help now, they're good players.' Ryan called his players to let them know about his decision, but phoned Randy Cameron before anybody to break the news. Cameron suffered a broken pinky and spent some time as Ryan's assistant coach last year where the two of them became close. 

Ryan said that first call to Cameron was tough. 

'We had a good thing going,' said Ryan. 'I joked around with him earlier today and said he's a guy that I pictured coaching with again down the road. My only advice to him is that this shouldn't give him a bad feeling coming into next year. He's like a new recruit. A new coach would be pumped to have a guy with a turnaround attitude that's got something to prove in a final year.' Before making any decisions, Ryan will take a week to step back and reevaluate his situation, but he said he's had fun coaching the green and gold. 

'It's funny when you look back because you'll say there's some negative but there's always some positive there, too,' said Ryan. 'There is a lot of good things here and good support. I think I started to get some of the alumni people back around and support us. The fan base here is crazy. STU is lucky as far as athletics is concerned.'