The reaction in Gophers circles seems to be almost exclusively positive with the news Tuesday that Bob Motzko has been hired as the new Minnesota men’s hockey coach. He was of course a former assistant with the Gophers when they won their two NCAA titles under longtime head coach Don Lucia and seemed like both the smartest and best-credentialed choice for the job.
But as is the case with a lot of coaching hires, one program’s gain is another’s loss. And the reaction an hour northwest of the Twin Cities in St. Cloud is far less cheerful.
Motzko took over as head coach at St. Cloud State in 2005. The program had established itself as a college hockey contender by making four straight NCAA tournament appearances under Craig Dahl between 2000 and 2003, but the Huskies had never won an NCAA tourney game until Motzko arrived.
St. Cloud State won its first tourney game in 2010 and reached the Frozen Four in 2013. In all, Motzko took the Huskies to eight NCAA tournaments — the last of which ended in disappointment this season when No. 1 seeded St. Cloud State was upset by No. 4 Air Force.
Motzko, who turned 57 on Tuesday, brought the program to consistent national relevance, and he was a St. Cloud State alum. Huskies fans might have assumed they had a head coach for life and at least another 5-10 years of presumed excellence. What they are left with now are raw emotions and uncertainty, which played out Tuesday on Twitter:
All the work @BMotzko did to elevate SCSU to the level of Minnesota has been undone in one penstroke.
Our own coach of 13 years looks at his alum as Jan Brady State. Awesome.
— Weldie (@MoarClappers) March 27, 2018
That might have been the most powerful tweet I saw, but then again here’s former St. Cloud State and Wild player Mark Parrish comparing this to a death in the family.
Once I pick my self up off the floor remind me which hoodie it was, please. My heart aches, it’s like a death in the family. Having bled for the Huskies I can’t imagine how hard of a decision it was for him. Congrats and thank you, Coach Motzko. https://t.co/XIT1m153e7
— Mark Parrish (@MarkDParrish) March 27, 2018
Then there are those who are just plain angry and betrayed.
Motzko is a total traitor, total sellout. Have fun being a ground squirrel. #stcloudstate
— Chancellor Ryan (@chancellorSCSU) March 27, 2018
Bob “Benedict Arnold” Motzko
— Ben S. (@Bennyboo__22) March 27, 2018
The go-to feed for St. Cloud State fandom is understandably distraught and looking for distraction.
Welp, drinking tonight.
— GOHUSKIESWOOOOO (@GOHUSKIESWOOOOO) March 27, 2018
My friend and St. Cloud State man Dana Wessel injected some humor into the bit:
Love Motzko. Happy for everything he did for St Cloud. Glad he got paid. Hope he loses 9,000 games in a row now.
— Dana Wessel (@DanaWessel) March 27, 2018
And finally, perhaps the most level-headed perspective:
Bob Motzko has been a close friend for many years. As such, I congratulate him and wish him the best at the U of MN. However, a huge blow to this program. But, it will survive.
— CenterIceView (@CenterIceClub) March 27, 2018