Badgers assistant coach Bill Butters, in his third year there, is leaving the program and a search for a replacement has begun.

"I can't thank Bill enough for the time he spent with our program," Badgers head coach Mike Eaves is quoted as saying in a UW news release. "He has decided that it is in his best interest to return home to Minnesota to be with his family and to pursue other passions in his life.

"Bill is a good friend and a great hockey man. He has had a long and successful career in the game and, though I'm sad to see him go, I'm happy he will be able to move onto this next chapter in his life."

Butters' roots are in Minnesota. He played and coached at the University of Minnesota. He was the Gophers co-captain in 1972-73. He played two seasons with the NHL's old Minnesota North Stars. And from 1985-95 was a Gophers assistant coach.

Said Butters, "It's time for me to move on from coaching. I have appreciated Coach Eaves' support and friendship as I have come to this conclusion. Mike and I believe it will be in the best interests of both myself and the program if I take this step and return to my family and continue to develop the other pursuits on my horizon. It has been a fantastic opportunity to coach our players and work with the staff at Wisconsin."

The timing of this move has to raise questions. Not many teams change head or assistant coaches in the middle of the season. The Badgers are coming off a tough series at Kohl Center.

Colorado College swept them last weekend 5-4 in overtime and 3-0. The Badgers are off to a disappointing 1-4-1 start.

Butters and his wife, Debby, have been married 39 years. They have three children and seven grandchildren.