UW 2021 Sports Hall of Fame: Blake Geoffrion
BY ANDY BAGGOT
MADISON, Wisconsin. – Blake Geoffrion was chatting with his father when his cell phone hummed an alert that another party was pending. The caller ID elicited an instant reaction.
“It says, ‘Barry alvarez, “” Blake announced to her father, Danny. “It must be a butt dial.”
Perhaps, but the son was overcome with curiosity.
âDad, I have to take this one,â Blake said, ending the conversation.
Alvarez, the director of athletics for Wisconsin, was indeed on the roll, taking part in one of his favorite annual projects. He was reaching out to the latest group of inductees to the Athletic UW Hall of Fame and Geoffrion was one of 11.
âI was so taken aback,â Geoffrion said. “I was not excpecting that at all.”
Hall of Fame contenders tend to fall into two main categories: those with long and exceptional careers and those with rare moments of achievement. Geoffrion belongs to the latter category.
In 2010, he became the first member of the six-time NCAA men’s hockey program to win the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top varsity player.
Geoffrion finished fourth with the Badgers overall in scorers as a senior – behind center Derek Stepan, winger Michael Davies and defenseman Brendan Smith – but he affected his teammates and results in such a variety of ways. that Hobey’s announcement was hardly a surprise.
Geoffrion led UW with 28 goals, 15 power-play conversions and four game-winning goals. A member of America’s first all-star team, he centered the No.1 line, skated on the penalty kill main unit and was the team’s top faceoff artist. He was the best all-around player for a club that reached the NCAA title game and had 10 players, including Geoffrion, skating a change in the NHL.
In addition, Geoffrion wore the “C” as captain of the team as a senior, a role he loved and in which he excelled.
Geoffrion said he’s not the type to get carried away by awards or flattery, but becoming the 19th player in the UW men’s hockey community to be inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame is special. .
âThis one touched me in a different way,â he said. “I actually felt proud of myself. It’s a really cool feeling.”
The surname Geoffrion is synonymous with such fame. Blake’s grandfather, Bernie âBoom Boomâ Geoffrion, and his great-grandfather, Howie Morenz, were inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame after a pioneering career in the NHL.
Blake joked that he is now “one step ahead of my dad” because Danny, a former Montreal Canadiens NHL first-round pick and father of four boys, has so far failed. been inducted into any hall of fame.
âIt’s truly an honor,â said Danny, reflecting on Blake’s latest achievement. âI have told all of my boys that hard work prevails whether you are on the ice or off the ice. It is always good to be recognized as Blake is recognized in Wisconsin for all he has accomplished. Wisconsin was a big, big part of his life.
“It was like another feather in his hat. He was very honored to be among his peers.”
Blake came to Madison from the United States National Team Development Program at the age of 18 in 2006, the season after the Badgers won their most recent NCAA Championship. A second-round pick in the NHL Draft for his home team, Nashville Predators, he grew physically and emotionally, becoming a go-to resource for an incredible collection of young talent along the way.
From the time Geoffrion was drafted in 2006 until 2009, then Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves and his staff landed four NHL first-round picks and six second-round picks. Three of the first-round selections came in one fell swoop in 2007. One was Smith, a defenseman from Mimico, Ont., Who immediately liked Geoffrion.
âHe was very welcoming to us,â Smith said, referring to a group that included Stepan, center Kyle Turris and defensemen Cody Goloubef and Ryan McDonagh. “Right off the bat he was a really good guy that we could lean on. He was very nice in that sense.”
Geoffrion increased his on-ice production each season – two goals in freshman, 10 in sophomore and 15 in junior – and became an elite player and emotional playmaker.
âHe kind of grew up in that leadership role,â Smith said. “What he brought, not many people have. He is very charismatic.”
Smith admits he didn’t initially see Geoffrion as a future Hobey Baker winner, “but his last year he was fantastic,” Smith said. “He was basically scoring every night for us. He was huge.”
Not just on the scoresheet either.
âHe was great with the media,â Smith said of Geoffrion. âHe was good at sheltering some of the younger ones. Growing up, he helped some of the younger ones follow the right footsteps. He was basically the best player on the team because of what he did every day. ‘any program to win, you need a guy like that. “
Geoffrion won the Hobey out of a field of 10 finalists, including Smith, an American first-team all-star who led the country in goals (15) and points (52) by a defenseman. Smith, now a 10-year NHL veteran with the New York Rangers, said the idea of ââa personal or jealous rivalry never saw the light of day.
âWe were both trying to win,â Smith said. “I think we were both really good and they decided to go with Blake, who really deserved it.”
Geoffrion has played 55 games in the NHL, including the last 13 with Montreal where his family heritage shone the spotlight but also a depressing end to his playing career. He was playing for the Canadiens branch in the minor leagues in 2013 when he suffered a broken skull in a crash on the ice. After emergency surgery, doctors advised him to retire, which he did when he was 25.
Just like that, Geoffrion, now married to Katelyn and a father of two young children, became an illustration of why college athletes should do their best to graduate, which he did in the field of consumption in 2010.
âI thought he was finishing school just because of it,â said Danny Geoffrion. “You never know what can happen. Your career can be over, boom, in a second. That’s basically what happened with Blake.”
For his part, Blake said several factors made him stay in school instead of turning professional early.
âMy mom and dad were always pushing me to graduate,â he said.
Another voice belonged to Blake’s cousin Shane Monahan, an outstanding Clemson baseball player in the early 1990s who chose to go pro as an underclass.
âHe called me every year and said, ‘Get your degree,’â said Blake.
Geoffrion has not strayed from the game he loves or, for that matter, the NHL. He is currently the assistant to Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito, another UW alumnus, after spending seven years with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Geoffrion missed the camaraderie and friendship he enjoyed when he traveled to UW and played for the Badgers. These memories will certainly come back when the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place.
âIt’s a really, really cool feeling,â he said.