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College Hockey:
Gwozdecky released as Denver head coach after 19 seasons

First, it was Jack Parker leaving Boston University.

Then Dave Shyiak was fired from Alaska-Anchorage.

On Monday, Denver announced head coach George Gwozdecky was released from the position he has held for 19 seasons.

“We certainly wish George the best in his future endeavors and we are thankful for his 19 years at the helm of our hockey program,” said Denver vice chancellor for athletics and recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes in a statement. “He certainly had his fair share of success, returning the program to the pinnacle of the collegiate hockey world during our great run in the middle of the previous decade. In addition, he has always run our program with class and professionalism, which has certainly made our fans proud to be Pioneer supporters.

“We must now turn our attention toward a new direction for our hockey program with another innovative coach taking the lead for our inaugural season in the newly-formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference.”

Gwozdecky, 59, was to complete a 12-year contract after next season and told the Denver Post before the season was over that he thought an extension was on the way. Instead, according to two Post sources, Gwozdecky was fired and the school will pay the remaining year on his contract.

A national search for Gwozdecky’s replacement will commence immediately.

The Pioneers captured two NCAA titles, three WCHA regular-season titles and four WCHA playoff championships during Gwozdecky’s tenure, going 443-267-64 in that span.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to be the varsity hockey coach at the University of Denver for the past 19 years,” Gwozdecky added. “I’m extremely proud of the work that we have done to continue to build on the great Pioneer hockey tradition. Our consistency of success on the ice and in the classroom over the years has been a focal point of our work and I am very proud of what we have achieved. I will forever cherish the relationships that we have built in the Denver community with our fans, our staff and most importantly, our former and current players. I want to wish them all the best.”

Gwozdecky will address the media in a press conference on Tuesday at 11 a.m.


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  • soze

    April Fool’s, right??

  • just_bobness

    Didn’t see that one coming…

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.anderson.520 Justin Anderson

    Hey Denver, Hakstol is avaliable.

    • Anti-NCAA

      I’ll even donate the extra $5 for Hak to get hired at DU!

      • nsb2525

        And und hire who?!?! More DUMB sioux fans.

  • rickermortes

    Well, 19 years is a good run, but I’m still a little sad. I’m an SCSU fan, but I’ve always had a lot of respect for Gwoz. He’s a fantastic coach and Denver has always been a quality team since I’ve been paying attention to college hockey.

  • Satriani92

    This has to be an April Fools joke, no way Denver would release Gwozdecky!

  • jmsptrk

    is this for real? if so…DU is f*ing crazy.

  • Michel Lavoie

    As a DU hockey fan, it’s hard to see this. George is a class guy and he’s a dynamic coach. And let’s face it….if his guys don’t get drafted and leave, he gets them graduated with degree so they can have a life after hockey… which is a lot more than a lot of coaches in college hockey and other college sports can say. I’m sure George will end up on his feet in another program bringing them up to a new caliber in hockey and academically.

    • Joseph Crowley

      As a BU fan that visited Denver last year and visited your campus, I feel for you. While I did not get to see a game at Magness, I sure did get the “hockey” vibe that seemed very similar to Comm Ave.

      While DU must have its reasons, it smacks of “What have you done lately” to this neutral observer. I do not think George will be without a job for long.

    • jmsptrk

      Hard to believe. I feel like I should be offering you condolences or something. In the last 12 seasons he had;
      20+ wins, 3 regular season titles, 3 playoff titles, 9 NCAA appearances and 2 national titles.

      What are we not seeing that DU officials are? Crazy.

    • rampantlion

      I totally agree, Michel. I’m a Gopher fan but have always had great respect for George. On the other hand, perhaps he’ll get hired by Penn State and become another Big Ten nemesis for Minn and Wisc. LOL

      • jmsptrk

        funny. i just had this conversation w/another gopher fan at work. i know penn has a coach, but man…who could pass on a chance to land gwoz? and penn has the money. want to put butts in seats? he’s a good start. and what a hire that would be for penn state to kick-start their program.

  • jdhockeyboyz

    Unbelievable! You have to look in another millenium to find a losing season for the Pios (1999). I would be shocked if George isn’t hired somewhere by the end of April. Another school will be immediately relevant with this guy at the helm.

    • jmsptrk

      and would not be surprised to see DU slip as well.

  • GopherBulldogHockey

    This is a bigger shocker than Tubby Smith. Great coach, bet he’ll find a job real easy.

    • jdhockeyboyz

      Tubby’s firing was only a shock to casual hoops observers. He never had a Gopher team with a winning conference record.

      • jmsptrk

        whoa there. he did once. a stellar 5-4. ;)

      • GopherBulldogHockey

        Yeah I watched pretty much every game and I totally agreed with you there until, all the big names that made his firing look so appealing, disappeared. Hopefully Norwood knows what he’s doing and can get that practice facility so they can actually recruit. But hey if guys like this are getting fired, Lucia, Hack and Eaves, all very respectable names, better watch their back too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1404151926 Jerry Noel

    Badger fans wanted him for years. DU is foolish for this. I hope he gets paid even if he gets a new gig. He should have a bunch of interview requests by the end of the week.

  • comm ave guy

    As a BU guy and college hockey fan, this is more of a shocker than Jack Parker leaving. The inmates and culture were toxic and things needed to be cleaned up. George going? It is tough to imagine, but there must be more to the story. Hopefully, they pick a guy like Bavis or Brown (BC GUY ugh, but he has been the missing link for that program) to lead them going forward. Character guys build character organizations and they win because of respect for each other and a team first attitude. Look at the record of BC in the last 5 years and look at BU in 2009>

    • Doug McDonald

      Comm Ave Guy, I am a BC guy and I am not sure Brown is ready, he has been there a while, but unless Cavanaugh is waiting for the BC job, that is the guy they would want. Either way I still think DU is crazy for getting rid of a top quality coach. Parker, York, Mason, Berenson, these are once in a generation type coaches. Gwodz wasn’t there yet, but who do you replace him with? I see BU and Denver as the 2 of the premier openings in college hockey, along with Minn, NoDak, BC, Mich State, Mich and a few others I might have missed. Why get rid of a guy that has had a ton of success. I agree with some other posters, I see Denver taking a step back with this decision.

      • comm ave guy

        Doug – I disagree. Both bavis and Brown are ready. At the end of the game, when there are decisive game deciding decisions being made, Both Brown in particular and Bavis sometimes have the board in their hands and are addressing the troops. I have also been to BU and BC practices. These guys are the ones running the show

    • Joseph Crowley

      It should also give the “Fire Dick Umile” crowd pause and time to reflect. Great coaches do not fall from the sky.

      • jmsptrk

        exactly. if you can’t think of a better coach out there on your list, then you’re making a mistake.

      • Afterfurtherreview

        Agreed Joseph!

      • UNHockeyFan

        Wow..Umile would be gone in a heartbeat for lesser accomplishments…are you listening New Hampshire?

    • jmsptrk

      that’s what i was thinking. internal politics?

  • markerice

    Like the NCHC or hate the NCHC, it was Gwoz’s brainchild. The AD at North Dakota and Gwoz were the drivers behind the new conference. Remember the press conference at Colorado Springs when they made the formal announcement / introduction of the new conference. Who was up on the podium. Not Dean Blais, Not Hakstol, Not Enrico. No, it was the AD from North Dakota and Gwoz. He was the face of the new conference. He even made sure his old school – Miami – was one of the original members. That’s the only reason Miami was invited – because of Gwoz. What does this mean for the NCHC?

  • Doug McDonald

    I am absolutely shocked, he always had competitive teams. No team can win them all but his teams were always in the discussion. Plus one thing kids look for is a school that sends a lot of players to the NHL and Denver was as good as anyone over the last 8-10 years. As a BC fan contemplating the end of the Jerry York era, I cannot believe a team as consistently good like Denver would get rid of a coach that seams to have 8-10 years left to coach.

    • jmsptrk

      one word. foolish.

  • Kiss-Arse

    somebody didn’t kiss enough arses at DU …

    … my guess is that they hire someone with a hyphenated last name, just like the “A-D”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=572248672 Cody Werlinger

    As a North Dakota Fan I’m shocked and very Disappointed in this!! George is a GREAT COACH. But after what UND did again this Season I’m wondering if UND should do the same with Hakstol FIRE HIM!! Hakstol has made the NCAA Tourny all 9 years and Final four 5 Times BUT he get’s out coached and his players get out played in the “BIG GAMES” Whoever gets George has a Head Coach will get a Steal of a Coach!! Good Luck Denver on finding a new Coach!! Can’t wait to meet up in our NEW Conference

    • Joseph Crowley

      That would be like firing Jack Parker in 1994 after losing to North Dakota, Lake Superior State, Northern Michigan, etc plus all the semi final losses. For the elite schools, it is fair to expect some tournament wins without requiring championships.

    • jmsptrk

      and…you know there’s at least 1 elite coach out there in search of a job.

  • Mike Loween

    Would George consider Alaska-Anchorage?

    • jmsptrk

      nothing against uaa, but that sure seems like a demotion. he’d probably be better off to sit a year than go to uaa.

      • Afterfurtherreview

        Maine anyone???

        • jmsptrk

          intriguing thought if whitehead goes.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.sweet.319 Jeffrey Sweet

            Michigan State. PLEASE!!!

          • jmsptrk

            would make sense. i think i read his wife is from the area and they have family there.

        • UNHockeyFan

          NH??

    • GopherBulldogHockey

      Would be pretty cool for Anchorage, nice challenge to see how you could keep locals around and bring in quality guys.

  • Goldenchild

    Foolish move DU, nobody wins national titles every year, coaches of his caliber are not a dime a dozen, as others have stated, he won’t be out of a job long

  • Bruce McCrea

    i’ll bet some other coaches are looking at the list of Denver recruits and getting on the phone.

  • PiGuy

    As a longtime DU fan I’m surprised but not surprised. Ever since the back to back championships DU has had good seasons but underachieved overall consistently fading down the stretch and going one and done in the tournament (except once). This year’s team was a microcosm of that. Their last 3 games of the year they had the early lead and were in control of the game only to take stupid penalties that turned into PP goals for their opponents turning the game around. DU was the most penalized team in the country and that people is the result of poor coaching. If you can’t control your players something is amiss. I’ve also felt that Gwozdecky hasn’t been recruiting the right type of player at DU. Too many “me” types with their eyes on early departure to the pros. This has caused a lack of cohesiveness from year to year along with the lack of any strong leadership on the team. This has resulted in DU basically becoming a team of mercenaries/farm team for the pros. I’m sure there will be a few current players along with some recruits who will bolt but these are not the types of players you need to build a solid program around. I’d much rather see someone come in who wants to play for DU and get a good education and if they have a great career the pros will still take notice. This may or may not set DU back a couple of years depending on who they hire but DU will be back and hopefully get past the first round of the NCAA’s.

    • BooneDogg

      I agree that the first round exits have been frustrating and FAR below expectations for many of the teams we have had, but to talk about this year’s team as an example of that is wrong in my opinion. Going into the season, I would have be overjoyed with another 20 win season and a playoff birth – remember how much we lost in scoring last year.

      I get the calls for change after all these first-round exits, but a in one-and-done tournament anything can happen… UND and MN have some equally if not more promising teams in the past decade and they have just about as much to show for it. That’s just how the tournament is.

    • comm ave guy

      PiGuy – As a BU fan, I can identify with you on the “me” types. That has been the biggest difference between BC and BU. Team guys, Team Players and Great Teammates. It took me 30 years to figure out that Jack PArker is a “me” guy and jerry York is a team guy. But as the York system to hold of BC, they ascended then surpassed my Terriers. Lets Hope David Quinn can return us to greatness. If you grow a deep team of great college hockey players, the studs will move on to the pros, but your core will remain in tact for 4 years. Funny thing of all the early departures from Bc, BU, DU and NDak, it is amazing how few make it. Better to stay for 4 years, become a man then try the NHL.

  • BooneDogg

    This was a comment someone posted on the Denver Post article that sums up why I think this was a dumb move (especially looking at the years between Parker’s titles):

    “Don Lucia – 26 seasons as a D1 head coach, 15 seasons to win his first national title, it has been 10 seasons since his second title.
    George Gwozdecky – 24 seasons as a D1 coach, 15 seasons to win his first national title, it has been 8 seasons since his second title.
    Red Berenson – 29 seasons as a D1 coach, 12 seasons to win his first national title, it has been 15 seasons since his second title.
    Jack Parker – 40 seasons as a D1 coach, 5 seasons to win his first national title, it took 17 seasons to win his second title, it took 14 seasons to win his third title.
    Jerry York – 41 seasons as a D1 coach, 12 seasons to win his first national title, it took 17 seasons to win his second title, it took 7 seasons to win his third title.
    Scott Owens – 14 seasons no national title.
    Dick Umile – 23 seasons no national title.
    Tim Whitehead – 17 seasons no national title, 12 seasons at Maine.”

  • icelund

    April fools? Either that or a completely foolish decision over at DU. I mean, it isn’t as though they had a successor waiting in the wings, they’re starting a national search…to replace one of the best ever?

    Good luck with that, and good luck to George.

  • PiGuy

    BooneDogg – yes anything can happen in a one and done tournament but DU is consistently one and done and George hasn’t had his teams prepared for the playoffs. They’re always fading down the stretch. That’s a red flag to me. As far as expectations for this year’s team they were a consensus pick to finish 3rd in the conference but didn’t. Even though they lost a lot of scoring from last year’s team that get’s old when happens year after year. That is the problem which I associate with too many of the recruits he gets, we just rent them for a year or two. Minnesota has the same problem while ND seems to keep them longer.

  • David Rolle

    It is about money. Gwozdeckey wants more money than the Lacross coach gets and DU said no. What idiots at DU. Gwoz runs a clean program and wins. I guess Lacross makes more money than Hockey and runs a better program!

  • PiGuy

    Amen Comm Ave Guy. I started watching DU games during the Murray Armstrong era when DU was the UCLA of college hockey and long before players left early to turn pro. Man those were some wicked teams then. Yeah not too many early departures are making a big impact in the NHL let alone playing. I can only think of a couple like Toews and Oshie from NoDak and Carle and Stasny from DU’s back to back years. I know kids eyes and egos get big when $$$ signs are flashed in front of them and that’s hard to turn down. Gotta put some blame on the pros there. Although I sometimes wonder with DU’s high academic standards that some of these guys are leaving because they can’t hack it…not sure but we loose several every year so I gotta wonder. Plus I’m not sure juniors is a big help either as some of these guys are 20 – 21 yr.old freshmen. I’m sure they feel out of placa and want to move on as soon as possible.

  • PiGuy

    Amen Comm Ave Guy. I started watching DU games during the Murray Armstrong era long before early departures (even before freshmen were allowed to play) when DU was the UCLA of college hockey. Man those were some wicked teams then. Yeah not too many of these early departures end up playing in the NHL let alone making an impact. I know there may be a few more out there but I can only think of a handful like Toews & Oshie from NoDak and Carle and Stasny from DU’s back to back years. The pros certainly aren’t helping the college game by waving big $$$ in front of these kids eyes. I also have to wonder if not being able to handle DU’s high academic standards cause some of these guys to jump ship early because we loose a slew every year. Not to mention you don’t see many 18 yr old freshmen anymore, lots of 20-21yr olds who I’m sure feel out of place around their fellow classmates. Anyway Gwozdecky will land on his feet and DU will be able to attract a top notch coach.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BC1994 Chris Ryan

    I had the opportunity to sit down with Coach out in Denver in 2001. I was out there with friends to watch BC play DU twice early in the season. He’s a class act that took some time to sit down with us and talk hockey on a game day.

  • noonan18

    Please come to Maine. We need a new coach to add some credibility back into the program. Whitehead needs to go.