Owner's Overview: New leadership makes a difference
February 14, 2012
The input of hockey "lifers" Jim McKenzie and Ron Mason (pictured) on the Jacks is significant, says team Owner Josh Mervis in this month's interview. The USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is also discussed!
Every month Voice of the Lumberjacks Matt Gajtka sits down with Lumberjacks Owner and CEO Josh Mervis to talk about the state of the team on and off the ice. This time the they discuss the influence of new coaches and the impact of the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Matt: What about Jim McKenzie made him the ideal person to take over the Lumberjacks’ head coaching job?
Josh: We were very lucky someone with the experience of Jim McKenzie was available. The first thing that stands out about Jim is his presence – Jim brings a certain confidence to the team, and is a calming influence on a young team.
When you combine that with his ability to instill discipline, and the knowledge he’s acquired after 15 years as a NHL player, along with two trips to the Stanley Cup Final and one Cup win – you have an outstanding hockey man.
Matt: How has the presence of Ron Mason benefited the team and the organization?
Josh: What can you say about Coach Mason that hasn’t already been said? Coach is the all-time wins leader in NCAA hockey history, and it can be argued that he is the father of modern college hockey. Without him there would be no CCHA, nor would there be a whole host of other inventions that we take for granted in coaching today.
Just look at his coaching “tree”: George Gwozdecky of Denver, the late Shawn Walsh of Maine, Jeff Jackson of Notre Dame, Tom Anastos of Michigan State, Bob Daniels of Ferris State – those are just a few of his former assistants or former players who are at a high level in the game today. Take a look at their records and you tell me: who has had a greater impact on the game of NCAA hockey than Ron Mason?
Having Ron here with us, offering his input and guidance to our staff, to our players and to me is beyond valuable. When you think about the greats of college coaching – Dan Gable of Iowa in wrestling, Doc Councilman of Indiana in swimming, Pat Summit and Bob Knight in Basketball – it is easy to include Ron Mason in that conversation when the subject of hockey comes up.
Now, Coach Mason will be angry at me for saying this because he’s a humble man, but to have him with us is an advantage that is unbelievable for our program as we re-build the foundation and create our culture that will continue onward for years to come. To put it into an easy context to understand: imagine you are running a football program, and Bear Bryant walks out to the practice field to help you every day. That’s Ron Mason’s impact for us.
Matt: What benefits did the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game bring to Muskegon and how will the event boost the franchise into the future?
Josh: It was a fantastic event! The game had the largest number of NHL scouts ever to take in a USHL game with over 200 in attendance. Obviously, like our AAA tournaments and other events we host, it had a great economic impact on our community with people eating meals in local restaurants, staying in our hotels, and buying gas, etc.
For the League, it further demonstrates the development of the USHL as a top producer of NHL draft picks. For our franchise, it solidifies our reputation for our ability to host and execute a top-notch event. As we had four players in the game, combined with our location – we are one of the premier NHL scouting destinations for NHL scouts to see games – it further solidifies Muskegon as a great place to play.
Matt Gajtka is the Communications Director/Broadcaster for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, proud member of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Contact him at email@example.com.