Gophers men's hockey coach Don Lucia signed a two-year extension Thursday, one day before he was set to begin the season in the final year of his contract.
Lucia, 58 and now signed through the 2018-19 hockey season, will start his 18th season at Minnesota on Friday at Alaska-Anchorage, looking to add to his 415-219-68 Gophers record. His teams have won two national titles, in 2002 and 2003.
Before Thursday's news, Lucia was working under a contract that was to expire at the end of this season, creating a bit of intrigue around the longtime coach's future. He told the Star Tribune earlier this year, "I still want to do it for a while longer. How long that is? I don't know."
The coach received a small raise in the extension. His annual salaries increases went from $10,000 to $12,500 in his two extended seasons, and the coach also received an additional incentive ($5,000 for Big Ten coach of the year) and retirement perks (a lifetime football ticket package).
Lucia will make about $400,000 this season in base pay and supplemental income, with another $100,000-plus in possible bonuses if the Gophers have Big Ten and NCAA tournament success.
In 29 seasons as a coach, he is 694-374-97 and has the eighth-most wins in NCAA history. Only three active coaches have more.
"It's truly an honor to coach this program, and I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished here at the University of Minnesota," Lucia said in a release. "We have high expectations for ourselves just like we know people have high expectations for us, and our program is proud of the bar we have set. We require dedication and excellence in everything we do, and everybody in our locker room buys into that. We've had that mind-set since we got here, and our goals aren't going to change."
Lucia met with the media Wednesday before the Gophers left for Alaska, and he said his contract hasn't been a distraction leading up to the season, while hinting he expected it to be resolved soon.
"[My contract] doesn't affect [my thought process] at all," he said Wednesday. "In what we do, we're all kind of year to year, aren't we? The year begins and you're just excited about the year and that's the process. I feel good about the talks we've had and where things are headed."
Late Friday night in Alaska, Lucia will begin season No. 18 where he started his coaching days as an assistant. The Gophers play Alaska-Anchorage on Friday and Alaska (Fairbanks) on Sunday. Both games are at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
This year the Gophers were the preseason pick to win their fourth consecutive league title in a coaches poll, followed by Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
The Gophers missed the NCAA tournament last season, losing to Michigan in the title game of the conference tournament. The Gophers were 14-6 in the Big Ten regular season but 6-11 in nonleague games.