Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Lucia Gets Vote of Confidence

Sitting in seventh place, and threatened with the prospect of being on the road for a WCHA playoff series for the second time in three years, the University of Minnesota is facing fan backlash against the hockey program.

This isn't terribly new. Gopher Hockey is a huge entity in Minnesota, and when it isn't going well, fans don't react terribly well. They're used to winning. They're used to being at home in the WCHA playoffs. They're used to a team that pounds the daylights out of Minnesota teams like UMD, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State, and Bemidji State.

This year, they haven't gotten that. Against the four Minnesota schools, the Gophers are just 2-6 this season. With the overall record sitting at just .500 (13-13-2), you can imagine the rumblings about head coach Don Lucia.

He isn't going anywhere.

Athletic director Joel Maturi spoke to our good friend and regular intermission guest Jess Myers, and he gave coach Don Lucia a vote of confidence.

“I can tell you that Don Lucia will be coaching Gopher hockey next year unless he chooses not to,” Maturi told InsideCollegeHockey.com. ... “I think we’ve got to just take a deep breath and stay the course,” Maturi said. “Nobody’s happy that we’re not winning more. I’m concerned and we’re all concerned. But I’m not concerned about the competencies and talents of Don Lucia.”

Listen. You're not going to find excuses for Gopher hockey shortcomings in this space. They're not nearly as good as they should be, and Lucia deserves at least some blame for it.

However, this guy didn't win over 500 games and two national championships in college hockey by being a dummy. To suggest that the game has passed him by at age 51 is just silly. He's still sharp, still well-connected, and still knows how to win games.

He also has a hella talented crop of players coming in next year, led by Blaine's Nick Bjugstad. We've heard about Gopher recruiting classes before, but this one seems like it has a ton of potential. Why the rush to throw out a proven winner?

Oh, yeah. Dean Blais is back coaching college hockey, and it's not at Minnesota. Can't have that.

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