The Minnesota State coaching job is officially open for business after the school reassigned Troy Jutting Sunday evening. At a press conference this morning, Athletic Director Kevin Buisman said people have already inquired about the position. He says they will move quickly to fill the position.
I have no reason to think otherwise. Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press, who is the man to follow in this pursuit (@puckato on Twitter), also thinks it would behoove the Mavericks to move quickly on this. And if there really is a shortlist, this thing could get done by the end of the month.
There are other reasons to move quickly: Minnesota State has a pretty good recruiting class coming in, including Shattuck-St. Mary’s forward Teddy Blueger, a second round pick in the most recent KHL Draft and a likely top-half pick in the NHL Draft this summer. Other guys that will help next season are BCHL forward Bryce Gervais and USHL goaltender Stephon Williams. These guys have signed LOI’s already,
so in some ways their options are more limited so the school can release them from their commitments if they choose to. But the Mavs also have a couple of guys committed for 2013, including Eli May and Ryan Schwalbe, who could also be pretty good, and they could re-open their recruitment if they choose to. Bringing in a reputable coach ASAP would do wonders in holding onto these kids.
All of that said, there are a number of ways the school could go here. They could try and name a big-time, big-name assistant coach that could help fill seats in an emptying Verizon Wireless Center. They could go the young assistant route. They could go the USHL route. They could go the re-tread route. The following list is the one I would work off if I were Buisman. Obviously, I have no idea if these names would be interested or what the price would be, but these would be my phone calls:
CALL ‘EM TODAY
North Dakota assistant coach Cary Eades: The guy is a winner. He’s won at North Dakota, he’s won at Warroad High School. He would also give the Mavericks a big-name in recruiting circles. He’s more than ready for a head coaching opening and with the success of Dave Hakstol, it’s safe to say that chance won’t be coming at North Dakota anytime soon.
Minnesota assistant coach Mike Guentzel: It’s no coincidence the Gophers big turnaround this year coincides with the return of Guentzel to the bench. He is another reputable name that would give Minnesota State instant credibility. Like Eades, he’s more than ready to lead a program. Like Eades, he has a long history as a player and assistant at his current institution. And like Eades, he’s probably not going to lead his alma-mater anytime soon.
CALL ‘EM TOMORROW
Green Bay Gamblers head coach Derek Lalonde: Hired by the Gamblers last summer, he’s the winningest first year coach in the history of the USHL. Prior to that, he was George Gwozdecky’s right-hand man at Denver. He can recruit. He can coach. Another guy that’s probably ready to lead a program, and will get a chance eventually. But is the name sexy enough to sell tickets in Mankato?
USNDP head coach Danton Cole: He led Alabama-Huntsville for three years, bringing the Chargers to an NCAA Tournament berth in his final season down south. He’s well respected within the college hockey community. Again, not a sexy name, but someone with experience building a program.
Ohio State assistant coach Steve Rohlik: He’s spent the last two seasons helping Mark Osiecki build OSU into a contender, and so far so good. Before that, he was a trusted assistant to Scott Sandelin at Minnesota Duluth. A St. Paul, Minn. native, he played collegiately at Wisconsin.
CALL ‘EM EVENTUALLY
HC Asiago (Italy) head coach John Harrington: A big name to Minnesota hockey fans, Harrington was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team. After a short playing career, Harrington had stints as an assistant with Denver and St. Cloud State before becoming the head coach at Division III St. John’s. He turned the Johnnies into instant contenders, winning 62 percent of his games over 15 seasons before stepping down for a head coaching gig in Europe.
Colorado College assistant coach Eric Rud: He’s had opportunities to become a head coach and has turned them down. He’d be a great choice if you’re looking for a coach who’s young, hungry and looking to prove himself. Rud is a very respected assistant coach and had a successful playing at CC not that long ago.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s Director of hockey Tom Ward: A great hockey coach in his own right, Ward would provide the Mavericks with a connection to one of America’s best hockey factories. He’s also been an assistant at Minnesota under Doug Woog. His name is big in southern Minnesota (Shattuck is 40 miles east of Mankato). One problem: Jutting and Ward are good friends. Could that pose a problem? Maybe, maybe not.
Gustavus Adolphus head coach Brett Peterson: A colorful character that is well respected in south central Minnesota, Peterson has led DIII Gustavus (located 15 miles north of Mankato in St. Peter) for the last 12 seasons. He turned around a listless Gusties program and is the second most successful coach in program history.
St. Cloud State assistant coach Mike Gibbons: Another character, Gibbons has the personality to be a great head coach. A former assistant coach at Bemidji State and Denver, Gibbons even led the Beavers one year when Bob Peters was on sabbatical. The results: The school’s first 30-win season, a national championship and NCHA Coach of the Year honors. Also built the Eastview High School (Apple Valley, Minn.) from its infancy into a contender before leaving to become an assistant at SCSU.
OFF THE RADAR
Wisconsin women’s head coach Mark Johnson: No idea if he’d be interested. But he’s been wildly successful in Madison as the women’s head coach, and before that, was an assistant under Jeff Sauer with the men. He’s a name that would sell in Mankato and in living rooms with recruits.
Former Minnesota Wild assistant coach Mike Ramsey: Again, no idea if the gig would interest him. But he’s still around in the Twin Cities, played collegiately at Minnesota, was on the Miracle On Ice team and had a long and successful career in the National Hockey League. After that, he spent a decade with Jacques Lemaire as an assistant behind the Wild’s bench.
Former Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Wes Walz: A veteran NHLer, Walz spent a year behind the bench in Tampa Bay and as an assistant coach at East Ridge High School (Woodbury, Minn.). Walz has a big-time passion for the game and would bring a well-known name to town. But he’s never been a head coach at any level, has never been involved in college hockey and who knows if he can recruit.
Any names you believe should be on the list? Leave them below in the comments.