Wisconsin announced Wednesday the hiring of Luke Strand as the Badgers’ new associate head coach.
Strand will move his office about three miles, from the Alliant Energy Center to the Kohl Center, as he comes to the Badgers after spending the past year as the head coach and general manager of the United States Hockey League’s Madison Capitols.
“The opportunity to be at the University of Wisconsin for me is a bucket-list opportunity that in being from the state is impossible to pass up,” Strand said in a news release.
“I am excited to get a coach of Luke’s background to join our staff,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said in a statement. “If you look at his resume, in kind of academic terms, he’s got his Ph.D. in coaching. I say that because I feel like I got the same degree because we both worked for [former NHL coach] Kevin Constantine. When you work for Kevin, you do things in the hockey world in terms of stats and details that you never thought were possible. Kevin was doing analytics when it wasn’t called analytics, so Luke has that kind of background in terms of hockey.”
Born in the Philippines, Strand grew up in Wisconsin and has spent much of his time in the state since skating for Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the mid-1990s. After obtaining a degree in kinesiology, with a minor in psychology of sport, he played professional hockey for the Madison Monsters and Kodiaks of the now-defunct United Hockey League before taking an assistant coaching position at St. Norbert.
Strand moved on to become an assistant coach and assistant general manager with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers from 2003 to 2005. From there, he headed west to UW-Eau Claire to become his alma mater’s head coach for two seasons.
After that, Strand was an assistant coach with the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros (where he worked under Constantine) and was then head coach and general manager of the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers from 2009 to 2011. While in Sioux City, he also served as an assistant coach for gold medal-winning Team USA at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, B.C.
He returned to the AHL as an assistant coach from 2011 to 2013 with the Abbotsford Heat.
“[Strand] has knowledge of the talent in the USHL and throughout North America,” Eaves added. “With his days in Abbotsford, he made a lot of connections in British Columbia and Alberta. As far as recruiting and knowing people, he is widely versed and that very much becomes a positive for our program. I think one of the things Luke will provide for me on a personal level is that he will push the boundaries.
“When you have that kind of mind within your staff, you are going to look hard at different things and you are going to hammer out the plan and then you are going to execute the plan. That will be very much a positive.”