Islanders GM Rips Minnesota Hockey Program

(above) It appears that New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow thinks that University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia would be better served coaching PeeWee players in the Twin Cities

From: College Hockey News & Pioneer Press

With people searching for answers for why Kyle Okposo left Minnesota for the NHL in mid-season, New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow provided some incendiary reasons.

In a phone interview conducted by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Snow, a former four-year goaltender for the University of Maine, placed the blame entirely upon the coaching ability of the Gophers' Don Lucia.

"Quite frankly, we weren't happy with the program there," Snow told the paper. "They have a responsibility to coach, to make Kyle a better player, and they were not doing that."

He continued, "[Okposo] just wasn't getting better — bottom line. And to me, that's the frustrating part. We entrusted the coach there to turn him into a better hockey player, and it wasn't happening. We feel more comfortable in him developing right under our watch."

When pushed, Snow continued to criticize Lucia.

"Whether it was Kyle or another player, until things change in that program we'd probably make the same decision," Snow told the Star-Tribune. "There should be a coach there that looks in the mirror. ... I don't think we'd be at this point if he was being coached properly."

Minnesota coach Don Lucia said reading Snow's comments in the paper one day after Okposo's decision to quit the program stung.

"It has not been the most enjoyable week of coaching," he said.

Lucia also declined to attack Snow, whose name he did not mention in the interview.

"You try to stay above the fray and take the high road," he said. "I think I've been doing this a long time and had pretty good success with our kids on and off the ice and moving them on to the pro level, so where that came from is shocking, surprising, disappointing."

Snow is a former goaltender at the University of Maine who was a teammate of Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Carney at Maine and in high school at Woonsockett, R.I.

Carney said he wasn't aware of the debate but asserted that Snow is a good guy and a hard worker.

"He's one of those guys that's going to be honest with you, but tell it like it is," Carney said. "He doesn't hold too much back."

Lucia, who's in his 21st season as a head coach and ninth at Minnesota, has an overall coaching record of 508-260-59 at Alaska Fairbanks, Colorado College and Minnesota. The Gophers have averaged 28.6 wins a season over the past six seasons and "I think our record speaks for itself," he said.

That said, he understands that criticism "goes with the territory."

He smiled.

"This, too, shall pass," he said.


sweetlou94 said...

Is Okposo not developing because of Lucia and his staff or has Okposo taken some time off? He looked awful the first weekend against CC. He fell so many times in open ice you had to wonder if he needed to sharpen his skates. I bet the Isles needed some help with Simon out and didn't like Okposo playing 2 times a week on the Olympic sheet.

dggoddard said...

Okposo spent the latter part of the summer at the Islanders Prospect Camp and then the USA Development Camp with Rakhshani & Ruegsegger. He should have been ready to go. He played very well at those camps from most reports I read.

If one compares Okposo to Ruegsegger this season, Tyler has made his linemates better in virtually every game. For some reason Okposo has struggled.