Mike Guentzel was away from the Twin Cities much of the time the past three years, coaching hockey in three different states. But his family never left.
His wife Sally and youngest son Jake stayed behind when Mike's 14-year coaching career at the U of M seemingly ended in the spring of 2008.
But with Guentzel seemingly settled at Nebraska Omaha for a while, he put his house up for sale. Sally and Jake, who will be a junior on Hill-Murray's hockey team this fall, had planned to lived in a rented home this next school year.
The Guentzels' home sold on July 8.
Now everything is different, of course. Mike is coming home.
The week of the NHL draft, which was June 24, 25, Gophers coach Don Lucia called UNO and asked for permission to talk with Guentzel about returning to the U of M.
Guentzel had played for the Gophers and been on the team's coaching staff for five season under Doug Woog and nine under Lucia.
Guentzel comes back as the staff's clear No. 2 man. He even has the title, associate head coach. Grant Potulny is the second full-time coach under Lucia, but this will be only Potulny's third season on the bench.
"It will be a mentoring situation with Grant," Guentzel said. "I can work with him, develop him to better himself. I looked up to Doug Woog and Kevin Hartzell."
Guentzel began his coaching career in 1986 as an assistant under Hartzell with the old St. Paul Vulcans of the USHL.
* Lucia'statement on Guentzel's hiring: “I wanted to hire a Minnesota alumnus, someone who could work with the defensemen, and someone familiar with the WCHA. Mike has all the qualities I was looking for and it was an easy decision. Mike knows the league, Gopher Hockey, and also has a tremendous relationship with Grant Potulny and Justin Johnson [the volunteer goalie coach]. He is also energized and excited to be a part of the transition to the Big Ten.”
* Guentzel's two older sons have played college hockey. Ryan was a senior forward for Notre Dame last season and will play in Europe this winter. Gabe will be a senior defenseman for Colorado College this season.
Jake is a college prospect, too. Last season as a sophomore for the Pioneers, he had 19 goals and 30 assists for 49 points in 28 games. He recently was at a select 17 development camp in Rochester, N.Y. His dad traveled there to watch.
* Only one Minnesota player at that camp made the U.S. team which will play in the under 18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament from Aug. 8-13 in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
That state player is forward Louie Nanne of Edina High School. His grandfather, Lou, is the former Minnesota North Stars player and general manager.
Defenseman Teddy Doherty of Shattuck-St. Mary's also made the U.S. But like many Shattuck players, he is not a Minnesotan. His hometown is Hopkinton, Mass.