Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Much still remains unknown about Hill's departure at U

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Coaching, WCHA news Updated: June 27, 2011 - 1:12 AM
Here is the short four-paragraph release from the U of M on John Hill leaving. It was sent out late Sunday night. It reads:
 
University of Minnesota men’s hockey coach Don Lucia announced today that assistant coach John Hill will not return for the 2011-12 season.

 
“I appreciate all the hard work John gave to Gopher Hockey,” said Lucia. “I wish John nothing but success in the future and thank him for his commitment to Gopher Hockey.”

 
Hill was a member of the Gopher coaching staff since 2005. He was also an assistant coach at Minnesota from 1999-2001 before serving as the head coach at his alma mater Alaska Anchorage from 2001-05.

 
A search for Hill’s replacement will begin immediately.

MORE QUESTIONS

So Hill is gone. He looks very much like a scapegoat for the the Gopher program's recent struggles.

Was he fired? Resigned? Release doesn't say.

Does he have another job? Again, who knows. If he doesn't late June isn't the best time for a hockey coach to be searching for a job. The first practice for the Gophers and most college teams, I suspect, is Oct. 1. How many unfilled openings are there?

According to a source close to one of the parties involved, university officials are talking to ex-Gophers coach Mike Guentzel about returning.

He left in April 2008, resigned supposedly, because he wanted to be a head coach. Actually, he was fired to create a spot for Omaha Lancers coach Mike Hastings who stayed one season. Hastings was replaced by Grant Potulny, an ex-Gophers player with limited coaching experience.

Guentzel has wandered far and wide in the three years he has been gone. There was one season as a Colorado College assistant, his son Gabe is a Tigers defenseman, one  season as head coach and general manager of the Des Moines Bucs of the USHL and one season as a Nebraska Omaha assistant.

But his wife and youngest son never left the Twin Cities. Jake was a sophomore forward this past season for Hill-Murray. He had 19 goals and 30 assists for 49 points in 28 games.

Guentzel probably welcomes the chance to return to the Gophers. Most likely with a better contract than he has before and maybe a title, associate head coach. And the chance to be the clear No. 2 man on the staff.

He has some leverage in the negotiations because he already has a WCHA job, with a program at UNO that seems to be on the rise.

Still, the guess here is he will back on the Gophers' bench this season. And the Gophers defensemen will be better because of his return.

 

 

 

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