If UNO hockey fans thought a staff with both Dean Blais and Mike Hastings was a home run, I can only imagine what some folks are thinking tonight with the news that Mike Guentzel is joining the UNO coaching staff for the upcoming season. Guentzel will replace Nick Fohr, who will return to his old position of director of hockey operations, replacing Dave Noel-Bernier, who in turn is leaving to take a position in the USHL.
If you liked the hire of Mike Hastings, you absolutely have to be ecstatic about adding Guentzel to the staff. Guentzel's resume speaks for itself. He got his head coaching start with the St. Paul Vulcans in 1988, and won the Junior A National Championship in 1991. In 1992, he took over the Omaha Lancers, leading the Lancers to back-to-back championships in 1992-93 and 1993-94. That 1992-93 season, his top assistant was Hastings. He then left Omaha to join the staff at Minnesota for 14 years, during which the Gophers played in five Frozen Fours and won three WCHA championships and two National Championships. He then went on to be an assistant coach with Colorado College two years ago, coaching his son, then became the head coach of the Des Moines Buccaneers last season.
Guentzel was also a top candidate to be the first head coach of the Mavs, and was on my list of leading candidates to take over the Mavs last season. Guetnzel did work briefly with Dean Blais in 1994 on the US Junior National hockey team, so there's a bit of a background there.
So UNO's staff has one of the most accomplished head coaches in college hockey in Dean Blais, and one of the most accomplished assistants in Mike Guentzel. And yes, one of the most accomplished junior hockey coaches in Mike Hastings. And yes...THAT'S a home run staff now.
I don't know how long this staff will stay together at this point; all three coaches have a record of accomplishment. And frankly, I'm not sure you can automatically assume that if Dean Blais were to get hit by a bus that Mike Hastings would be the next head coach: Guentzel's resume is better.
Things keep looking brighter and brighter for UNO hockey.