BGSUHockey’s.com Kevin Gordon sat down for an interview with Falcon head coach Chris Bergeron to discuss the contributions of assistant coaches Ty Eigner and Barry Schutte in the rebuilding of the Falcon program.
Following is the interview:
GORDON: Why did you hire Schutte and Eigner as your assistants?
BERGERON: First and foremost, the relationship I had with both of them.
The relationship I had with Barry goes back to I when graduated (from Miami) in the spring of ’93, and he started in the fall of ’93. We never played with each other, but we probably started crossing paths in ’94,’ 95.
Anybody who has spent any time with him probably realizes how special of a person he is and how driven, detailed and focused he is. That just grew.
I lived with Ty’s younger brother (Trent) for a couple of years at Miami, and I probably got to know Ty by visiting Bowling Green socially or playing against Ty. We spent some time living together in minor professional hockey.
I was at Ty’s and Erica’s wedding. These are relationships that go back years.
I felt with their personalities and their strengths as people and their life skills and their life experiences, they could help me get through this. Then, you add their families to that, I felt like their families, with my family, it would be a great fit.
We could go through this together and that led me to hire both of them. The fact that both would come and are here going into their sixth seasons is a testament to our relationships.
GORDON: What specifically did you like about each of them?
BERGERON: For Barry, it was his passion for hockey. I knew he would be a great recruiter, once he developed trust in his eyes because of how special he is with people. The determining factor in trusting your eyes is something you have to develop a little bit.
The fact you can sell yourself and develop relationships and a level of trust is something I knew he would be great at.
Ty was a hockey coach, and he was committed to being a hockey coach at the college level. He had been a coach at the high school level long enough. He was ready for this. He knew what we looked for in a player and what we loved in players.
He’s always been confident in his eyes recruiting-wise. Then, he’s a guy who makes people feel good about their relationship and level of trust.
From a recruiting standpoint, I thought they’d be really strong recruiters, once they got their feet wet at his level. I thought they’d help handle me during the hard times. I knew they’d both be good teachers of the game to our players, based on the same they reason they’re good recruiters.
They’re going to develop strong relationships with these kids and they’re going to be real. In coaching, that’s what it comes down to — these kids want to know you care about them, and Ty and Barry do care.
GORDON: When you hired them, did you have any concerns you were hiring two assistant coaches who hadn’t coached at the collegiate level? There were worries, even snickers, among BG hockey alums and fans who sarcastically claimed you were hiring a rink manager (Schutte) and a high school hockey coach (Eigner) to be your assistants.
BERGERON: None. Not for a second. I know there were people who were concerned about it, but it didn’t concern me at all. That was one of the first decisions I made that I was almost 100 percent confident in.
I didn’t hesitate for one second to get those two guys. I wasn’t confident I was going to get both of them, but I was confident I was going after the two best guys for this job at that time. I believe the last five years have proven that.
GORDON: What was your first priority in building the program, once Eigner and Schutte were hired?
BERGERON: Relationships. We had to build relationships with the players, the staff, and then in the community, and then in the recruiting world and the hockey world where those relationships are really important.
I knew Ty and Barry were going to be at great it. It was just going to take some time for them to get out and meet everybody, and then to listen to them talk about recruiting and how they go about the process and their job. Those relationships are paying off.
GORDON: Do Eigner and Schutte have input on all decisions on and off the ice involving the team and the program.
BERGERON: Absolutely. 100 percent. There’s three of us and that makes it easy. If usually two are saying one and the one is saying another, that’s what we do unless I get outvoted and I feel strongly about whatever it is. We make decisions as a staff.
I want my assistants to tell me what they think. That’s mandatory. It has to happen. I don’t think assistant coaches or the support staff get enough credit in this process.
The focus is on the head coach, and he gets all of the accolades or the criticism. But they are as important if not more so at building this brand and establishing who are in the recruiting world, the college hockey world. It’s a huge part that doesn’t get enough credit.
GORDON: Do they have input on the lineup each weekend? The staff meets after practice on Thursday to decide the lineup for Friday’s game, and the lineup is then posted after the meeting.
BERGERON: They’re involved in that process and we have a lot of information we us to decide who plays. It’s a combination of information from practices and games. There are times we disagree, but we come up with the best decision for the team. We post the lineup Thursday to give guys time to prepare, unless something comes up in terms of injury and sickness.
GORDON: With the success your staff has had rebuilding the program, are you concerned you might lose Eigner or Schutte to another school?
BERGERON: We have conversations where they want to be professionally. I know they’re being talked to by other schools because of the job they’ve done here, and why wouldn’t they be? They deserve that. They should be talked about.
It’s been great to be together this long, and if we keep doing what we’re doing, there’s going to be people talking about them.
GORDON: Do you want assistant coaches who aspire to be head coaches?
BERGERON: Absolutely. I don’t think ‘yes men’ or guys who are going to be tell me I’m right all the time is benefitting Bowling Green hockey or is going to make a good head coach. Neither one of the guys I have is a ‘yes man’ and they’re both going to be great head coaches.
GORDON: Eigner and Schutte have been on your staff since you started. How important is having stability in a coaching staff?
BERGERON: It’s huge. It’s all I know. I was at Miami for 10 seasons and we had little turnover in the staff there. Instability can really be difficult from a chemistry standpoint, recruiting, teaching. I’m a loyalty guy. I’m not looking for the next best job.
GORDON: What is the feedback you’re receiving about Eigner and Schutte from recruits and the families, and the teams and leagues you’re recruiting players from?
BERGERON: The feedback is impressive. As a Bowling Green alum, as a Bowling Green administrator, you would want them saying these things about any employee or your son or daughter. All it’s doing is continuing to build confidence in Ty and Barry, and what they’re doing is right.