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."There were rumours all season that Ryan was butting heads with the STU administration over both funding for the hockey program and its losing record, especially since AD Eagles was the previous hockey coach. Whenever Ryan was asked about the issue by media, he'd say there were no real money problems and point to their impressive new hockey facilities as example of the fact, and express confidence that the rebuild would work over time. If you read between the lines of some of his quotes to the Gleaner, he hints that everything wasn't as rosy as he pretended.
"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."
"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 was a proven builder in Junior 'A' hockey, which is probably why he won the competition for the STU job. He's also a former AUS player, a scrappy forward with both UNB and his hometown Saint Mary's Huskies. At the time I, like many, didn't think STU could have picked a better man for the job.
The Gleaner's Bill Hunt devotes his weekly column today to reactions from the Tommies players.
"It's not like I was totally blindsided by it, but it was definitely a bit of a surprise," said goaltender Jon Groenheyde, who made the AUS all-rookie team with the Tommies last season. "It's obviously a decision he had to make," he said. "He has to do what he has to do. It's none of my business. My business is still the same ... it's still to come into camp ready to go and to win games next season and stop the puck." Groenheyde said Ryan was "a great guy. He was always good to me. It doesn't really effect my mindset. I'm interested to see what's going to happen."
"The thing is, he's a real passionate guy," said [Stephen] Sanza. "It's tough for him. It's a weird league to coach. It's not like the OHL. You can't make trades. It's hard to make decisions. I hope he does well wherever he's going to coach. Hopefully we get someone soon, someone who has a good background in coaching and can hopefully start recruiting some guys for next year."
Team captain Felix Poulin said he "didn't see that one coming. I'm sure Troy was heading us in the right direction. Even if we had tough years, we had the good mentality. I can't really explain why. Sorry, I'm just really surprised. I don't have any words yet. I just hope he's comfortable with his decision."St. Thomas has posted a release on their website stating that they are beginning their search for a new coach, and indicate that they'll be taking another look at previous candidates (which I believe could include a current Halifax Mooseheads assistant coach who is a former star AUS player?).
Selfishly, I'm going to miss Coach Ryan if for no other reason than he always gave long, frank, insightful answers to our sometimes dumb questions.
- The Tommies most public long-suffering superfan/promoter has had enough: http://stutommies.com/2013/06/when-enough-is-finally-enough.html
- The voice of TommiesTV is calling it quits: "Randy Corey
@RandyCorey I have decided not to return as play-by-play announcer for Tommies TV next season. I want to thank coaches and players for their support. Especially thanks to fans who faithfully watched/listened the past 6 seasons, and mostly to Harold DeCourcey, great friend and sidekick."
- In today's Gleaner, Bruce Hallihan devotes his weekly column to a Q&A with Troy Ryan. In part: Q: Why now, in the heart of recruiting season? A: I wish I was staying, to be honest, but it didn't make sense any longer. I hope the right people understand. I don't think it's for the reasons a lot of people think either. Some people think it's because they weren't giving (the program) financial support. I would never use that as an excuse, because I came in knowing that situation. It would be like me complaining it's a liberal arts school. Q: I repeatedly hear 'It's all Troy Ryan vs. Mike Eagles or Mike Eagles vs. Troy Ryan. Is that a fair statement? A: No. It's not that simple. I don't think it's any big secret that we didn't get along great, but that's life. I don't necessarily think it's all Mike. I know my own personality, I know that I can be trouble. I can be too blunt. I wish I would have learned earlier how to work within an institution. When I disagree with Mike, I disagree with him. After reading some of the online things that were being said about Mike, I went on Facebook and said, 'I don't think he deserves some of the stuff that's being thrown at him.' I don't think the same way he does and I don't see the direction of the program the same way he does, but ultimately it was my job probably to bend more towards them because they're in charge, they're my bosses. I couldn't do it.