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.
Mike Hastings is smooth -- as a talker.
The new Minnesota State men's hockey coach talked about commitment, family, getting better every day and a number of other topic on Monday during a news conference in Mankato.
He was named the third Mavericks coach ever on Saturday, replacing Troy Jutting who held the job for 12 seasons.
Hastings was the associate head coach at Nebraska Omaha the past three seasons and before that a Gophers assistant for one.
A video of his news conference is here.
I always got along with him well when he was on the Gophers staff in 2008-09. He seemed sharp, passionate, two admirable qualities.
On Monday, he said, "I am excited. I want to hit the ground running."
Hastings said he went after his new job hard and will have a list of needs and wants.
He said the improvement in facilities that MSU's hockey program needs will get done. "We will find a way. ... We are going to come up with answers," he said.
He said the Mavericks will be competing for championships and called Mankato and the university "a special place, a place I am going to call home."
His priorities, he said, would be to take care of the athletes already in the porgram, to let them know the coaching staff and school is committed to them. He also wanted to widen the recruiting base of MSU and accomplish something every day.
PROSPECTS GAME COMING
USA Hockey, in an effort to raise the visibility of American-born players, is starting as an all-american prospects game. It will be held Sept. 29, 2012 in Buffalo, N.Y. The Buffalo Sabres are partners in the endeavor.
Forty of the top players eligible for the 2013 NHL draft will be invited to play.
"Players will come from junior hockey and college hockey, as well as the high school and prep school ranks," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey in a news release. "We'll be in contact with NHL Central Scouting as we build the final list of players invited to compete in this inaugural event."
Invitations will go out in late June or early July. A few Minnesota kids should get one.
Mike Hastings has been named the new MSU Mankato men's hockey coach.
He has been coaching in the WCHA the past four seasons, serving as an assistant on Don Lucia's Gophers staff in 2008-09 and then as an associate head coach on Dean Blais' Nebraska Omaha staff the past three seasons.
Before that he was the coach and general manager of the Omaha Lancers. In 14 seasons, he had a record of 529-210-56, making him the winningest coach in USHL history.
The Mavericks will play the Gophers twice this coming season, probably in home-and-home series before the Gophers leave for the Big Ten Conference in 2013-14.
"I believe we can win here and we're thrilled to get started," Hastings was quoted as saying in a MSU news release.
Hastings is only the third coach in MSU history. Don Brose led the program from 1969 yo 2000 and Troy Jutting since then before being reassigned to other administrative duties on April 1.
He starts the job Monday and, according to AD Kevin Buisman, will have a four-year contract at a salary of $225,000, part of privately funded.
A GOOD HIRE
I talked with Hastings numerous times when he was a Gophers assistant. He seems like a good hire. He is obviously very knowledgeable about the game, and comes across as enthusiastic and passionate about his sport.
With the Gophers, he worked primarily with the forwards.
He should be a strong recruiter, especially if improvements are made to the Mavericks' rink. His friendship with Lucia should add another twist to the Mavericks-Gophers rivalry, too.
Mike Hastings, an associate head coach with Nebraska Omaha the past three seasons, will interview today for the head men's hockey coaching position at Minnesota State Mankato with the the school's search committee.
Hastings, a Gophers assistant coach in the 2008-09 season, will then meet with the media and the general public at 4 p.m. at the Taylor Center on campus. That seems a little odd for a candidate, unless the job is nearly his already.
I talked with Hastings numerous times when he was at the University of Minnesota. He comes across as an impressive coach: knowledgeable, passionate, experienced. He primarily worked with the Gophers' forwards and ran practices when head coach Don Lucia was absent.
MSU reassigned Troy Jutting, the Mavericks' coach for 12 years, on April 1 and school officials have worked quickly, it seems, to find a replacement.
Hastings replaced Mike Guentzel at Minnesota and, in turn, was replaced by Grant Potulny.
He has a lot of head coaching experience in the USHL. In 14 years with the Omaha Lancers, he compiled a career record of 529-210-56 and never had a losing season. He had more victories than any coach in UHSL history. His last team there in 2007-08 won the Clark Cup.
His Lancers previously won Clark Cups for playoff championships in 1998 and 2001. His teams also won three Anderson Cups for regular-season titles in 2002, '05 and '08.
Hastings was the USHL coach of the year after the 1996-97 and 2001-02 seasons. And five times he was named the UHSL's general manager of year in 1997, 2002, '05, '07 and '08.
He is a native of Crookston, Minn., and played at St. Cloud State for two season before his college playing career ended because of injuries. He has a bachelor's degree in secondary education.
Hastings is the first finalist to interview for the MSU Mankato job. Will there be others? School officials are not saying.
Maybe there is somebody better out there for the Mavericks' job, but Hastings has to be a strong candidate.
A recent story in the Mankato Free Press mentioned Mike Guentzel's name as a possible candidate for the head coaching job at Minnesota State Mankato.
Troy Jutting was reassigned -- a nice word for dismissed -- on April 1. Kevin Buisman, the Mavericks' AD, said he has a short list of names and will have a new hockey coach by the end of the first week in May, if not sooner.
The Free Press lists three associate head coaches in the WCHA as possibilities: Guentzel of the Gophers, Cary Eades of North Dakota and Mike Hastings of Nebraska Omaha. Only Eades has expressed interest in the job.
Guentzel returned to the Gophers this season after being gone for three. He worked primarily with the defensemen and turned an inexperienced group into a usually reliable blue line corps.
Two other names the Free Press has mentioned are John Harrington, former head coach at St. John's University in Collegeville, and Tom Ward, the successful high school coach at Shattuck-St. Mary's.
* Sweden beat the U.S. 3-2 in an exhibition game before the U18 World Championships in the Czech Republic. The U.S. team had a 32-17 shot advantage. The winning goal came on a penalty shot. Defenseman Brady Skjei, a future Gopher, had an assist for the U.S.
The U.S. team plays Finland in its first game in the World Championships on Thursday.
After 12 seasons, Troy Jutting is out as hockey coach at Minnesota State Mankato.
He and the school reached an agreement in which he will reassigned to other administrative duties through June 2013 when his contract expires.
Said school President Dr. Richard Davenport, in a MSU news release: "This is the right time to make a change, and we’re committed to taking our men’s hockey program to new heights. Part of our emerging national prominence as a university is raising our level of competitiveness in men’s hockey and all of our sports."
Jutting's roots go deep with the Mavericks. He was a player there, an assistant coach for 10 years and head coach since 2000-01.
His record as head coach was 184-224-55. The Richfield native was the WCHA coach of the year after the 2002-03 and 2007-08 seasons, but those were the only two times his team finished in the top five in the conference.
His team made its only Final Five and NCAA appearances the same year, 2003.
The Mavericks finished 12-24-2 overall this past season, 8-18-2 in the WCHA which landed them in 11th place ahead of only Alaska Anchorage. Key injuries crippled MSU's chances but several of the Mavericks' top players were freshmen.
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