Milo’s dismissal another blow to Hockey Cats

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The most tumultuous season of the Kevin Sneddon coaching era took another stunning twist Tuesday with the dismissal of junior forward Justin Milo from the University of Vermont men’s hockey team.

Sneddon declined to be specific about the reasons, saying only that he, his staff and the leadership had agreed that it would be in the best interest of the team to move forward with No. 7 no longer on the ice.

Tuesday evening, Milo said he had been told he was dismissed for inconsistent effort and play and a lack of commitment to the team. Basically, he said, he was baffled by the reasons given for banishing the team’s No. 2 goal scorer. For more of Milo’s reaction, check Wednesday’s Free Press print or online editions.

From the outside, it’s impossible to say one side was right or one side was wrong; whether the coach failed in his duties to reach the player or if the player didn’t want to be reached.

Seeing the games can provide some perspective, but no one outside of the team knows what goes on daily in practice, in the locker room, off the ice or in meetings. Maybe it’s a shared failure.

Only one thing can be said definitely: It’s sad that such situations ever arise.

Milo is a hockey talent, a scorer who loves to shoot the puck. He has been inconsistent this year, as have most of the Catamounts.

It wasn’t difficult to figure out that Milo was in the coaching doghouse. He had been there for the St. Lawrence game in December when he was listed as a “healthy scratch, coach’s decision.” Since UVM is consistent in announcing game absences for illness, injury or violations of the student-athlete code of conduct, Milo’s benching, one can surmise, had to do with his hockey.

Friday, Milo was scratched again, another indication that things were not running smoothly between coach and player. When Milo didn’t suit up for Saturday’s game, it was obvious the matter was serious.

But serious enough to warrant dismissal? Maybe; maybe not. Sneddon believes it was; Milo doesn’t; the eternal clash of perspectives of coach and player.

About the only positive note in all of this is that Milo will remain in school (though he might join the Yankees’ training camp for a time) and graduate this spring.

For the team, it will be a challenge to put this aside and focus on the weekend at New Hampshire. Vermont is vulnerable, its hold on the eighth and final playoff spot tenuous (it should also be noted that UVM is also only three points out of fourth, though trending the wrong way).

Certainly at season’s end, if not sooner, the coaching staff in particular as well as the players will have to do some soul-searching, trying to figure out why this season has become so difficult, and not just in terms of wins and losses. For one reason or another, three players are no longer with the team. Leadership has been questioned. Play has been inconsistent.

All in all, it’s been a harsh winter at Gutterson Fieldhouse, harsher than the one outside, and the forecast for the immediate future isn’t bright.

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3 Responses to “Milo’s dismissal another blow to Hockey Cats”

  1. ColchesterIce Says:

    Ted,
    Not surprised we’re not getting the full story here. When it comes to big-time college athletics, it’s pretty much standard operating procedure to obfuscate things behind the phrase “violation of team rules” and otherwise avoid specifics.

    But this much I’m sure of. Kevin Sneddon is a veteran coach with a well-known track record in town. If he felt he needed to go to the extreme step of dismissing a scholarship player, then there was very good reason for it. Dismissing a scholarship player reflects badly on everyone–both the player and the program–and Sneddon knows this.

    Whatever it was, it’s gotta be more than just lackadaisical play. Kids like that you sit on the bench. Insubordination? Conduct unbecoming the team? Maybe some day we’ll know…

  2. Ol' Cat Says:

    You’d think the coach could make the right decision in a hard situation. However, the University has made the wrong decision before regarding a tough spot with its men’s hockey team. Who’s to say they might not have blown it again?

    • Ted Ryan Says:

      True, but assuming the reference here is to the hazing scandle a decade ago, it should be noted that everyone involved in making decisions then, from the UVM president to the athletic director to the head coach are either no longer with the university or in the same capacity.

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