Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Writing for today's Star-Tribune in Minneapolis, Rachel Blount offers this touching piece about a Brockport hockey alumnus, the late EJ McGuire...

It would be natural for NHL Network analyst Craig Button to go about his job with a heavy heart this weekend. Like so many others in hockey, he still feels the hole left by the death of E.J. McGuire, who ran the league's Central Scouting bureau for the past six years.

But to be sad on the weekend of the NHL draft would run counter to McGuire's buoyant spirit. Through a too-brief lifetime of coaching and scouting, he celebrated young players. He encouraged them. He saw beyond the labels others might have attached -- too small, too slow -- to find the potential in all of them.

McGuire died in April at the age of 58, five months after he was found to have a rare form of cancer. He achieved much during his 35 years in the game, including improvements at NHL Central Scouting that made the bureau more efficient and effective.

His work there was driven by one desire: to build the game by recognizing the best in every prospect and helping others do the same. Button shared that attitude with his friend of 25 years, which led him to set one rule for his role on the draft broadcast. He will not criticize anything that happens this weekend. By focusing on the gifts of the young men whose names are called at Xcel Energy Center, Button quietly will honor the positive aura that McGuire radiated to everyone he knew.

"E.J. was like that wonderful high school teacher we all had,'' said Button, a former NHL executive and scout who worked for the North Stars from 1988 to '93. "He only saw the potential in these players, and he was going to do everything he could to help them reach it.

"On draft day, there is no reason for pessimism. This day is for the kids and their families; it's a day of achievement, and we need to celebrate it. E.J. did that. He never wavered in his belief that the potential of a player could be realized.''

At McGuire's passing, an NHL statement described him as "one of the most beloved, respected and accomplished men in all of hockey,'' which does not seem like hyperbole. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he played for the State University of New York at Brockport -- an NCAA Division III school -- and recognized he didn't have the talent to play professionally. His intelligence, knowledge of the game, people skills and dedication to hockey put him on a path to influence the game in other ways.

McGuire coached college teams before a chance meeting with Mike Keenan brought him to the NHL in 1984. As an assistant to Keenan in Philadelphia, McGuire overflowed with ideas, launching his reputation as an innovator.

An early adopter of several technologies, McGuire began using computer programs to create databases. He came up with new ways to use video, then in its early days as a coaching and scouting tool. Those technological and organizational skills also helped him reshape NHL Central Scouting, which he joined as an assistant in 2002.

Button's father, Jack, had founded the bureau -- which scouts and ranks prospects in North America and Europe -- in 1975. McGuire, Button said, was dedicated to making it as useful as possible for the teams that relied on it. He created specialized player-assessment tools for the bureau's 29 scouts and a website that provides reams of information and video in an easy-to-use format.

McGuire also wanted to make it easier for players to make their best impression. He ended the practice of having players work out separately for multiple teams and centralized the testing process for top prospects. Under his leadership, the NHL scouting combine evolved from a small operation in a hotel basement into a modern, efficient means for evaluating players.

"He was so passionate about Central Scouting,'' said Brent Flahr, the Wild's assistant general manager and a former scout. "He had so many ideas on how to improve things, and when you saw him at the rinks, he had so much energy. A lot of scouts learned a lot of things from him.''

One of those things, Button said, was never to reject a prospect out of hand. McGuire kept an open mind when he watched players, seeing the unique virtues in the small, the hulking, the fleet and the strong. They all had something to offer, he believed, and he made sure they knew it.

"At the combine, E.J. was a voice of reason and assurance,'' Button said. "If he saw a 17-year-old who wasn't physically developed, who didn't do well on a strength test, he wasn't just telling the teams and scouts not to worry, that he's going to get stronger. He'd tell the player, 'Don't worry about it. You're a good player.'

"He could always give them something to relate to, like an NHL player he'd seen at the combine a few years ago who only did two bench presses. Without E.J. there this year, there was a void of optimism.''

That's just one reason McGuire has been so sorely missed. Known for his friendly, kind nature, he made time to talk to anyone and everyone, anywhere and everywhere. This time of year, McGuire loved to talk about prospects, and his desire to see young players succeed poured forth.

Vancouver assistant coach Rick Bowness told Canada's QMI news agency that he frequently thought of McGuire during the NHL playoffs. The two coached together during Ottawa's painful first years as an expansion team -- Bowness as head coach, McGuire as an assistant -- and McGuire's upbeat attitude never waned.

"We'd be in the middle of some of those losing streaks,'' Bowness said, "and I'd say, 'E.J., you can be a professor. You can do whatever you want in life and enjoy it, and we're going through hell here.' And he would say, 'No, this is where I want to be.' This is exactly what he was and who he was, and that's a hockey lifer.''

Because of that, Button said, McGuire's influence will live on, at this draft and in the future.

"E.J. is one of those people who, even though they're gone, their giving hasn't stopped,'' he said. "And it won't.''



Friday, June 10, 2011


Here's a press release from the Okanagan Rockets....

The Okanagan Rockets and the BC Major Midget League are pleased to announce that James Eccles has been named the clubs head coach for the 2011-2012 season.

James has built his extensive coaching and scouting experiences at numerous levels from the NCAA, Canadian Junior “A” hockey clubs, scouting for the USHL, directing and advising for a sports group, and instructing small area space game training/skill specific classes.

James coached the SUNY Brockport Golden Eagles (NCAA Division III) from 2003-05 as the assistant coach and later as the head coach for the 2005-06 season. He then pursued his education as a US Hockey Director for a NCAA advisory Sports Management company, Cardinal Sports Management Inc., from 2006-08 where he personally advised and oversaw the USA based scouting/personal player representation duties, while at the same time scouted for the USHL Central Scouting as the USA Northeast regional scout where he resided in Rochester, NY. In the summer of 2008 James moved back to British Columbia accepting the assistant coach/director of scouting position for the Westside Warriors of the BCHL for the 2008-09 season and then as a volunteer assistant coach for the beginning of the 2009 season with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. For the 2010-11 season James accepted and is still presently the Head Scout for the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. As well, James has been an instructor for the Hockey Canada Skills Academy for School District #23 since arriving in 2008 to present. In the off season James presently operates small area space game training and skill specific sessions in the Kelowna, BC.

James received his Master’s of Science Degree in Sports, Recreation, and Leisure Management from Brockport State, a State University of New York while coaching the SUNY Brockport Golden Eagles (NCAA Division III). As well, James received his Bachelor’s of Science in Sports Management and Human Movement Studies from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio while playing for the Kent State University Golden Flashes (ACHA Division I).

For more information about the Rockets, visit:


Monday, June 6, 2011

2011-2012 SCHEDULE

The 2011-2012 schedule is now available and can be found in the toolbar of this website. It's a schedule that is nearly identical in terms of opponents versus last year's. That's a good thing. Familiarity and reams of video will aid our guys in turning around the record posted last year.

Among the highlights:

* A season-opener at Utica (who may soon join the SUNYAC)
* The Skidmore Invitatiional on Thanksgiving weekend
* Powerhouse Elmira pays a visit on December 9th
* Neumann is in town on January 6th
* There's a rare Thursday night home affair against WNEC on January 12th
* Rival Geneseo is at Tuttle on February 3rd


The College at Brockport is seeking an Assistant Hockey Coach.

The candidate will be responsible for assisting the Head Coach in all aspects of the college hockey program. Responsibilities include but are not limited to; recruiting both on and off campus, video breakdown and analysis, assisting the Head Coach in daily practice planning, game day management, community service efforts, off-ice conditioning efforts and fund raising events as well as additional athletic department duties as assigned.

This is a 12 month position. The ideal candidate will have previous college playing or coaching experience, an ability to work with student athletes, faculty, staff, community members and alumni. For more information regarding the position, please contact Head Coach Brian Dickinson at bdickins@brockport.edu.

This search will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Interested parties should e-mail a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three references to Coach Brian Dickinson at bdickins@brockport.edu.


This is a new position for the College. Phil Roe and Chuck Dossier will remain as assistants. I must say, this is a pretty exciting development as it adds depth to the staff, an on-campus hockey representative and a recruiting function that was once done solely by one individual.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Brockport has long had regional rivalries with Geneseo and Hobart whom they face every year in what always are hard-played games. Call it the fight for "Rochester Hockey Bragging Rights."

Well, you can add another school to the local mix as the Democrat and Chronicle reports tonight...

Nazareth College announced this afternoon that it will be adding men’s hockey to its athletic program starting in the 2012-13 school year.

The team does not have a coach, but athletic director Pete Bothner said a nationwide search will commence in a couple weeks, led by Craig Dahl, who coached at Division I St. Cloud State for 19 years, and now lives in the Rochester area.

“We feel fortunate that we can utilize Craig as a great resource in this overall process,” said Bothner. “He has a lot of experience and can bring forth some great insight.”

There is no on-campus ice arena at Nazareth, and negotiations are under way to determine where the team will play.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The gentlemen at USCHO.com reported the following last week...

Utica has taken the next step in the application process for its men’s team to join the SUNYAC during that league’s spring meetings.

Administrators from the school last week made a presentation to the SUNYAC committee.

After review, the league decided to proceed with a site visit to the college, scheduled to occur this fall.

The Pioneers play in the ECAC West, but last year applied for admission to the SUNYAC after that league changed its charter to allow non-State University of New York schools.

This interesting development will make the already-tough SUNYAC even tougher. Utica is typically a solid-performing team and it has some of the best fans in all of DIII, consistently putting thousands of them in the stands for every game.

I'm somewhat excited by the possible addition, even though it will make Brockport's entry into the playoffs even more difficult. The strength of the SUNYAC and the quality of talent every team puts on the ice makes a hockey product that is arguably some of the best this side of the NHL. Every SUNYAC game is well-played, intense, and highly-entertaining. Utica will only add to that mystique.

In other news, College Hockey News announced the following on its Twitter today (more to follow):

A Rochester,NY-area school will add a D-III hockey program ... it will be announced Friday