Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fighting Sioux: Yes, it's already gone

Because of recent news reports, loyal backers of UND's Fighting Sioux nickname are finally waking up to the reality that the days of the name and logo are numbered. I attempted to explain this to Sioux fans three months ago, but few seemed to believe it. In fact, the writing was on the wall after the state of North Dakota settled its lawsuit with the NCAA last October.

The good news - if you want to look at it that way - isn't that the NCAA or the tribes won. No, it's that the state of North Dakota simply gave up. The opportunity to play football against the University of Minnesota was more important to some key UND alumni and athletics supporters than the principle of free expression, the reason many of us waged the battle to retain the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo for so long.

As Abraham Lincoln once observed, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Thus, when UND athletics could no longer present a unified front on the issue, the state's political leaders decided the most practical approach was to strike the best deal possible with the NCAA and put the issue to rest once and for all.

Knowing that the end is near for the once-proud Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, I dedicate this rewritten version of the Eagles 1974 song "Already Gone."

I’m Already Gone

Well, I heard some Sioux fans whinin' just the other day
'Cause they fear someone’s gonna take me off the shelf
So I’ll give to you a clue that will be news to you
Yet I know darn well it's true
It means you'll have to pin the blame upon yourself

Yes I'm already gone
And I'm feelin' wronged
I will sing the loser’s song
Boo, hoo, hoo
Boo, hoo, hoo

The wording that you sold me made me stop and wonder why
But I guess you felt like you had to quit the fight
Just remember this, my fans, when you’re fallin’ for the spin
You can play the game but it doesn’t mean you’ll win (that’s right)

So I'm already gone
And I'm feelin' wronged
I will sing the loser’s song
Boo, hoo, hoo
Boo, hoo, hoo

Well I know just who it was who held me dear
Someone knows it was them who sold me out
So many times it happened that you closed your eyes to shame
Now you act like you don't know what it’s about

But me, I'm already gone
And I'm feelin' wronged
I will sing the losers song
'Cause I'm already gone
Yes, I'm already gone
And I'm feelin' wronged
I will sing the loser’s song
'Cause I'm already gone
Yes, I'm already gone
Already gone

Monday, February 25, 2008

Most penalized compared to what?

Whenever someone tosses out the factoid about the Fighting Sioux being the most penalized team in college hockey and uses it to claim that UND has a team of "goons" and "thugs," it's useful to ask the question: Most penalized compared to what?

Instead of picking on some other team from the current season, I'll make an apples-to-apples comparison with another Dave Hakstol-coached team from the recent past: the 2004-05 Sioux that made it all the way to the national championship game against Denver.

This was the team that ESPN commentator Barry Melrose said had an "NHL-style defense" during the 2005 Frozen Four. Given that four members of the defensive corps (Matt Greene, Matt Jones, Andy Schneider and Matt Smaby) were big, physical NHL draftees, the analogy was appropriate. That team also featured master instigator Mike Prpich and developed a reputation for rough play that resulted in numerous penalties.

Here's a comparison between the two teams.

2004-05 Sioux (36 regular-season games)
Penalties: 370
Penalty minutes: 800

Penalties: 348
Penalty minutes: 731

2007-08 Sioux (32 regular-season games to date)
Penalties: 257
Penalty minutes: 663

Penalties: 253
Penalty minutes: 630

Now it's possible that the 07-08 Sioux will end the regular season with more penalties and/or penalty minutes than the 04-05 team, but barring a bench-clearing brawl or two in the final four games of the regular season, it's not likely. What's more likely is that this year's Sioux team will end the regular season with far fewer penalties and penalty minutes than the 04-05 team.

To update and expand on the statistics The Sicatoka provided in an earlier blog here, compare the power play numbers and records of the 04-05 Sioux to the 07-08 Sioux.

2004-05 Regular Season Record with:
More power plays 6-5-0
Fewer power plays 6-6-4
Equal power plays 4-2-1

2007-08 Regular Season Record with:
More power plays 10-1-2
Fewer power plays 8-5-0
Equal power plays 3-2-0

When the 04-05 team had the same or more penalties, it was 10-7-1 (.583 winning percentage). When the 07-08 team has the same or more penalties, it's 13-3-2 (.777 winning percentage). This year's Sioux team not only takes fewer penalties, but it also takes better advantage of its power play opporunities and is more likely to win even when it has fewer opportunities with the man advantage.

The 04-05 team developed a reputation for being able to take a lot of penalties because it was so effective at killing them off. But this wasn't really the case until the Sioux hit the playoffs in 2005. Incredibly, during the post-season, that Sioux team was 5-0-0 when the opposition had more power plays, 1-1-0 when UND had more power plays and 1-1-0 when the power plays were equal.

Ironically, the only playoff game the 04-05 Sioux team lost when it had more power plays was the national championship game against the Denver Pioneers. One could argue that the Sioux might have stood a better chance of winning that game if they'd played the style of hockey that got them there.

The Boards Room: Now open for comments

Due to popular demand, we've decided to open our blog to comments from the outside world. However, the comments here will be moderated. If I find myself spending too much time deleting trolls, flames, insults, personal attacks and baseless gossip, we will return to allowing comments from select individuals only.

So if you have something constructive to add to the discussion, please feel free leave a comment here. Thank you for your interest.