Lucia Signs Extension With Minnesota

Don Lucia will be staying at Minnesota for the foreseeable future — and maybe beyond.

The Golden Gopher head coach, who led Minnesota to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2002 and 2003, has signed a three-year contract extension, the school announced Tuesday. That would keep Lucia behind the Gopher bench at least until the end of the 2011-12 season.

“We wanted to make sure that Don Lucia remained at Minnesota and we are excited to have him signed through the end of the 2012 season,” Minnesota athletics director Joel Maturi said. “With the success he has brought to the men’s hockey program, we are fortunate to have Don at the helm for the next seven years. We’re looking forward to more NCAA Frozen Four appearances and national championships with Coach Lucia behind the Minnesota bench.”

“I’ve said it before: I want this to be my last coaching job,” Lucia told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which reported that Lucia’s base salary will rise to over $250,000 from its current $210,000 over the course of the extension.

“I may not just have the best job in college hockey, I may have the best job in hockey,” Lucia added.

Lucia, 47, took over the Golden Gopher program at the start of the 1999-2000 season and has since guided Minnesota to five straight NCAA tournament appearances and three Frozen Fours, including his two national titles.

His coaching record with the Gophers is 169-80-25 (.662). Lucia will shortly pass Brad Buetow for third place on the Gophers’ all-time coaching wins list. Doug Woog (390) is first.

Lucia, a native of Grand Rapids, Minn., and a 1981 alumnus of Notre Dame, sports a 448-235-54 (.645) overall record as a head coach, including a current streak of 13 consecutive winning seasons at three schools.

He previously led Colorado College for six seasons, during which time the Tigers won three MacNaughton Cups and made two Frozen Four appearances. In his first season at CC, Lucia won the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year. Prior to that, Lucia started his head coaching career at Alaska-Fairbanks.