MINNEAPOLIS — Remove the intermediate tag from Brandon Naurat.
Do it yesterday if you can.
It has nothing to do with an interim coach winning a Big Ten championship — although that helps. It has nothing to do with reaching the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament — although that helps. And it has nothing to do with the fact that the No. 4 Michigan hockey team hasn’t missed a beat in its success with him at the helm — although that helps, too.
At Michigan, winning hockey is an expectation, not a bonus. But to be right a person to lead the Wolverines is connected to something much bigger.
It all has to do with who Naurata is as a coach. It all has to do with who he is as a personal and professional leader. It’s easy to point to a winning record and call it a day. Instead, it’s what Naurata does off the ice that makes him the right fit to lead the Wolverines.
Saturday night was the culmination of nearly a season’s worth of work and dedication. So now is the time for Michigan Athletics and athletic director Ward Manuel to make a change.
He put in the work from the start and it’s clearly just the beginning, it’s paying off.
“He’s a player’s coach,” junior quarterback Ethan Edwards said on Feb. 6. — He is used to being in the place (of the players), so it is very easy to communicate with him. He is very honest and clear about the goals he wants to achieve, and he has high standards for our team.”
A player coach is definitely what the Wolverines need. What made Nauratt’s time at Michigan so impactful, however, was his consistency as a leader.
In a season that began with the tragic death of longtime Michigan head of equipment Ian Hume just three weeks into his new campaign, Naurata was given a leadership position that required answers you won’t find in the “Xs” and “Os” textbooks. “.
This was not an isolated moment either. It was the start of a rollercoaster season for Naurat and Wolverine.
Just a month later, after a five-game contest against three ranked programs, Michigan faced perhaps the scariest scene in the program’s recent history. A program-wide adenovirus has threatened the lives of several players, sidelined most of the team and nearly claimed the life of a junior quarterback Stephen Holtz.
The youngest student hockey team needed more than just a coach. I needed a teacher, a friend and a shoulder.
He got one in Naurato.
“We haven’t talked too much about hockey this week,” Naurata said after the Wolverines lost at Minnesota on Nov. 17, starting a barely fit lineup in the face of the virus. “It was nothing but worrying and thinking about our teammates, their mental and physical health. We have a great group of kids and the guys are still fighting.”
And this is the key to everything. Amidst a tumultuous season brought on by events beyond his control, Naurata continuously led a group of a dozen freshmen tasked with the Atlas job, carrying the weight of the Michigan hockey world on his shoulders. Through the good and the bad, the ups and downs, the wins and the losses, Naurata was there for everyone.
All of those ups and downs were worth it on Saturday night, because while Naurata never could have fully predicted that he would be hoisting the Big Ten title in August, he certainly put in the effort, leadership and dedication to make it happen.
And as freshman forward Rutger McGroarty, who scored twice for the Wolverines on Saturday, sat drenched in sweat during his postgame press conference, he didn’t point to his immense talent, hard work or skill set. Instead, he stressed the need for “a lot of videos with coach Naur” as a boost for his performance.
Because Naurato’s personal guidance is simple. It is effective. His players seem to love him. He does everything simply – the way he likes.
“I know how other people have treated me, good and bad, and how I treat other people,” Navrato said on March 6. “I think that if you treat people with respect, communicate and are honest, life is easy.”
Now, after winning another Big Ten championship, Naurata and Michigan can breathe a sigh of relief — if only for a moment.
But what will define Naurat’s time with the Wolverines won’t just be isolated moments. It will be a long-term institutionalized change that he has gifted to the program. Changes that clearly came off the ice, but also affected him.
Naurat’s chance at the helm has never been tied to winning a Big Ten championship, though his career certainly hinges on winning one. It was about everything he could do off the ice and more.
Don’t worry though, beyond your limits personal hockey experience and skill in player development, Naurata single-handedly created a previously “non-existent” analytics program that led to the Wolverines’ impressive level of success.
But to simply attribute Michigan’s success to young talent, analytics, or even Naurat himself would be disingenuous. This is a team, this is a program, and its fate depends on more than one person. However, what has made Navrato’s short tenure so special is his apparent outside investment in the people who keep those divisions running.
“That’s why people are so important,” Naurata said on February 6. — Strength trainer, doctor, equipment, social networks, trainers — all. When you have the right people in each area, you just ask for their expertise.”
Because it is not a confirmation of the supposed perfection of Nawrat. He will even tell you that he doesn’t have all the answers.
Rather, it is an assessment. The cliché says that “life is a test”, but for Naurat this season has been just that – one big test. He passed, and with flying colors.
Michigan Athletics needs to remove the temporary tag from Brandon Naurat. A little late yesterday.
So do it now.