NW Ontario HOF Award For Gwozdecky

(above) Coach Gwozdecky will be inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Hall of Fame this weekend

From: The Chronicle Journal
by Rueben Villagracia

George Gwozdecky plans to step up to the podium Saturday at the Valhalla Inn to officially enter the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame as a builder.

He‘ll say his thank-yous, get a good night sleep and fly out the next morning with his thoughts on preparing for a 25th season as a U.S. college men‘s hockey head coach.

Step up, yes. Step down any time soon? Not a chance.

“My wife asks me that every couple of years,” said Gwozdecky, 57, last week from his office in Denver. “I don‘t know. I think when you start thinking about it, that‘s the time you start stepping aside. And it really never crosses my mind.”

The Thunder Bay native adds the induction to an impressive career that has seen him win national titles as a player, assistant coach and a head coach; most recently with the University of Denver Pioneers. But this weekend‘s honour is just as important to Gwozdecky, who cut his hockey teeth here in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“I‘m certainly glad I‘m not retired, or worse, not around to not accept the award,” he said. “It‘s a huge honour. I see on (the hall‘s) website all the tremendous athletes and builders and the people when was a kid. Names that I looked up to, it kind of makes you think, ‘How am I at the same level as these (people)?‘ They‘re all tremendous and successful.”

One of those people is Albert Cava, who coached Gwozdecky on a talent-laded Thunder Bay Vulcans (formerly Port Arthur Marrs) junior team. Gwozdecky turned his junior resume into a playing career at the University of Wisconsin and jumped into coaching after graduation. Cava is in some fine company when Gwozdecky lists his all-time hockey mentors. The others are the late (Badger) Bob Johnson, who coached Gwozdecky at the University of Wisconsin, and Ron Mason, the winningest coach in U.S. college hockey and Gwozdecky‘s boss at Michigan State University for his first taste of Division I coaching as an assistant.

“Those three guys were primarily the guys that really influenced me in my coaching career,” said Gwozdecky. “I continually think back when I‘m faced with challenges and ask, ‘How would one of these guys handle it?‘”

Of course, there has been much Gwozdecky has had to learn on his own in keeping his methods fresh through his three decades of coaching.

“Of the many things, you have to be able to adapt,” he said. “Adapt with the times, adapt with the culture and every generation is a little more unique or different.

“You still maintain your integrity, principles and values. . . . The successful people are the ones who are willing to adapt to make necessary adjustments to continue that success.”

Upon his induction, Gwozdecky will join his father, Dr. George Sr., in the hall. The elder Gwozdecky was inducted as a builder in 1988. Unfortunately, Gwozdecky‘s wife, Bonnie and their daughter, Adrienne, who‘s a senior at high school (and a diehard field, not ice, hockey player), won‘t be able to make the trip due to schedules.

A little face time with his hometown won‘t get in the way of the Gwozdecky and the Pioneers‘ first non-conference games – slated the week after the dinner.

“The timing couldn‘t have been better,” he said.


Shram said...

quick note: his daughter is not an avid player, she just quit, it's in that Gwoz video.

Re-reading about Coach's midwest roots make me uneasy (think Big 10)..

Anonymous said...

Rumors have swirled about George leaving almost since he arrived on campus. It initially started with the rumor that his whole ambition was to coach in the NHL and that he viewed DU a better springboard than Miami and, thus, would be gone within 3 years -- 16 years later, he is still here. Then there was the rumor that Ron Mason had hand-picked George as his replacement and he was gonna scurry off to E Lansing at the drop of a hat -- did not happen and Ron Mason stated that he never even tried to anoint Gwoz.

There are more, so that is just two of many. Almost as many delusional rumors start up regarding Gwoz as President Obama....