Gwozdecky's Press Conference Touches Emotions

(above) It was a somber Press Conference at the Ritchie Center today
photo credit: @denco83
Eyewitnesses compared George Gwozdecky's press conference today to a funeral. Coach Gwozdecky stood there and it was stone silence.  He spoke for 25 minutes and took the high road which was his modus operandi for 19 season at DU.
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Local writers, administrators, players from the Sixties to the present, his entire coaching staff and wives attended. One attendee looked around the room "didn't see a dry eye."  Someone sitting near George's wife Bonnie, who was beloved by all at DU, could hear her sob occasionally.

In his stint at the podium, Gwozdecky often became red-eyed and emotional, most notably when talking about players, his current and former assistants, university officials, his late parents and his wife and daughter. He thanked many members of the media.

Coach mentioned that it was his intention to finish his career at the University of Denver.  He was notified on Monday during a meeting with Athletic Director Peg Bradley-Doppes that his contract was being terminated.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

From a Sioux fan. Good luck Mr. Gwozdecy to you and your family in your future, where ever that may lead you. You have my respect for the passion that you always brought to the game of hockey and your team. I will miss seeing you lead your Denver Pios north to the play the Sioux.

Twister said...

Bill Tierney offers some moving and emotional words in the wake of Gwoz's departure. On his DU page under videos.

old pio said...

That newser was tough to watch. I've written before about my only direct contact with Gwoz. He got in touch with me early in his tenure, wanting to know if I had a recording of "D-Rah." Naturally I was flattered that he reached out to me and that he planned to start playing the "D-Rah" again. I dug up a tape, had it cleaned up and FedExed it to Gwoz in time for a Friday game at Magness. He sent me a very warm, personal thank you. I can't tell you how impressed I was and delighted that he wanted to restore some school spirit at DU. Clearly I'm not the only one impressed by Gwoz, his dedication to the Pioneers and his accomplishments. Whoever winds up replacing him will have a mountain to climb. And those of us who care deeply about DU hockey will have to set aside our disappointment and resentment and get behind the new guy. Is there any other option?

Jordan said...

Wow. Seriously. If you thought the press conference was hard to watch, Tierney's brief video will crush you.

http://www.denverpioneers.com/mediaPortal/player.dbml?db_oem_id=18600&id=2089808&catid=29516

Jordan said...

Hopefully Tierney will be the guy to help the new guy out like Gwozdecky did for him.

I don't know much about Joe Scott, admittedly, but he doesn't seem like that kind of ambassador. Maybe I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

That was classic Gwoz. What a great coach and man. I was in contact with him by email once, asking him (in a nice way!) what happened after a particularly tough loss. He took the time to send several well-considered emails back and forth, and I appreciated that so much. I will send him a thank you for all he's done at DU, and would encourage others who are also grateful to do the same.

miller said...

I have tried to process all of this in the last couple of days. I think Bill Tierney's words sum up the way a lot of us feel at this moment. I was privileged to meet Murray Armstrong several times and George is certainly cut out of the same mold. Both stressed the importance of academics and personal development.

George will certainly turn up next year and if DU plays that team, watch out Peg and Ron.

dggoddard said...

After watching the Tierney video, it seems like a good time to throw the entire Board of Trustees out of the Williams Tower one-by-one.

Anonymous said...

The Tierney video is as poignant and compelling a testimonial to Gwozdecky as you could ever imagine. Turfing a coach who has earned such widespread respect and admiration is a bigger gamble than most universities and administrators would ever have made and the video makes it clear that its impact extends far beyond the hockey program.

Maybe the next head coach will take DU to another level of success in the postseason but that would seem to be the only area in which there is much room for improvement. A tough act to follow for the new coach and a career defining decision for Peg.

miller said...

I just sent Gwoz an email thanking him for 19 great years. Hopefully, they haven't shut his email account down.

DG, I would be glad to help throw the Board out the window. It would be wonderful payback for throwing Gwoz under the bus.

Anonymous said...

The first time I met Gwoz it was at Select-a-Seat. He walked up to me and started talking with me like we were old friends. I went to DU during the Serratore years, so it's easy to say that Gwoz restored both my love of the game and my pride in being a Pioneer. There's some stupid decisions being made at DU these days, it seems as if the administration is doing all it can to piss off as many alumni as possible all at once.

dggoddard said...

I think we're going to find these head scratching decisions are all coming from the same source.

There seems to be a complete lack of understanding about social media.

Crap you could easily pull in the 1990's is going to spread like wildfire today. There's no telling the fallout from all of this.

Anonymous said...

This just feels so wrong. So wrong.

I have little doubt that this decision related to anything than a battle of egos/battle for power. What the Board doesn't get, is that nobody gives a damn about them. Sure Board, you are more powerful at the end of the day, you had the power to fire Gwoz. But, you don't have the power to make fans forgive you for your horrible decision. You don't have the power to get DU back to being relevant in hockey. You don't have the power to do anything on the ice. You are little ignorant fools. I hope Gwoz finds another gig and kicks DU's ass. In the NCAA's no less. I've never rooted against DU in my life, but I'd do it to give a big FUCK YOU to the board.

old pio said...

Jordan's right. Bill's statement was very tough to watch. But also refreshing. Candid. Heartfelt. Sincere. There wasn't much room for my opinion of him to grow, but he's up a couple of notches, for sure.

miller said...

I didn't think I would ever say this, but I am seriously considering not renewing my season tickets. I just fired off a letter to Ron Grahame expressing my displeasure at the way the athletic department has handled the Gwoz situation as well as removing Boone at Magness.

I am not sure if this is possible, but I would like to see the AD or one of her staff have a meeting with several alumni and discuss what in "the wide world of sports" is going on. I know, it will never happen.

dggoddard said...

Obviously DU considered a lot of factors when making this decision.

I wonder if they had a projection of an "acceptable" number of season ticket defections.

1%, 5%, 10%.....

Obviously we're in the heat of the moment right now and a splashy new coaching hire might reinvigorate the base, but jeez this situation is spiraling downwards.

Unknown said...

This really irks me. Where does DU think they will find another leader as respected and as successful as George? Like Anon 5:07, I met Coach G at many a Select a Seat. He always made a point of coming down and meeting the ticket holders and talking to us. He knew who the true supporters of his team were and he made a point of talking to us.

What Peg Dopehead has done is akin to an AD at Duke walking in and saying, "Geez, we don't have a very successful men's basketball team here, so I think we won't renew Coach K's contract. We want to take our team in another direction." Can you imagine someone doing that? Well, that is what has happened here at DU.

I will be renewing my tickets, but I wish I could send a stern message to Dopehead. Boycotting the team would hurt the program that I love to watch and cheer for and not she who sits in the gold tower. I just hope our recruits don't switch programs over this decision, but I fear we are about to lose some of the best players.

Anonymous said...

I am seriously considering dropping my season tix but waiting for the emotion to die down and see how things play out.

Only reason to renew the tix is to support the current players and incoming recruits that don't defect. Obviously, if Miller, et al. stick around (which doesn't seem remotely possible), I' renew to support them too.

A reason not to renew is because this is our hard earned money and who would waste their money on an unproven product? Do you go around buying cars that haven't already proven to be successful? I know for damn sure DU wouldn't let emotion get in the way of this decision. They would cancel their season tickets immediately. And, only renew once they have proved to be a winner. And, cancel again if they haven't won a championship in 8 years. DU hopes and expects that fans will give them a lot support than they are even willing to give to the coach and supporting staff that got us to the promise land in the first place.

Coach said...

I have the same feelings as Anon 6:05.

I started watching DU hockey a year or two before Gwoz was hired. I was disgusted at the NHL for their latest work stoppage, and college hockey was filling my need as a passionate hockey fan. I live way across the state, but would travel to see a few games each season. Every year during the 90`s, I attended a few more games. When Magness opened, I found someone to share season tickets with. A few years later, I had my own season seats, and would make every effort to attend about 3/4 of the games, even though I had a 500 mile round trip drive each weekend. Why? Because I knew that Coach Gwozdecky was running one of the top programs in the country, and I felt a national championship was a possibility. Even though I did not attend the University of Denver, I was proud to support such a fine program run by a coach that I grown to respect so highly.

Of course I knew Gwoz wouldn`t be the coach forever. He could be lured to a large-budget university or a pro team, and I would have been sad, but glad for him.

But this, I cannot live with. I feel the school has let me and my fellow supporters down by not trying harder to retain one of the winningest and highly respected coaches OF ALL TIME. I would like to support the players who return, but dammit, I don`t live around the corner from Magness.

If today were the day to renew season tickets, I could not write that check to The University of Denver. Maybe I will relent in a few weeks, but there is just as good a chance I will not. I am sorry. This has been like being decked with a sucker punch.

By the way, this season I reach a milestone as a Pioneer hockey fan. For the first time, I attended every home game. And both games at the World Arena.

D31 said...

Its a day later and my shock has turned to complete anger and disgust. This isn't like Colorado firing Jon Embree after 2 horrible seasons, this is Denver firing one of the greatest hockey coaches and hockey minds of his or any generation.

I have been a Pioneer fan for a very long time, but this is an incredible slap in the face.

Our AD has just made the biggest mistake in the history of the hockey program.

Anonymous said...

IT"S NOT PEG.

IT's THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES!

PEG WAS JUST THE MESSENGER,,,

Anonymous said...

Thanks Peg

Anonymous said...

Nice to see him say "I'm not done". I wouldn't be surprised to see him pull a "Shanahan" and take a year off with pay; get out of your mortgage, get your affairs in order, etc, and wait for things to settle down; really see what else is out there for coaching jobs. He's certainly qualified to coach in any league or level, NCAA Women included. I fully expect Miller will follow him, which would be another devistating blow to DU hockey - many people don't know how much he does for the program. This is truly a critical time for DU hockey; new league, new coach. Denver needs to do well in the NCHC inaugural season, and not be the joke of the NCHC; then it would really make Doppes and Graham look REALLY bad and worse yet, make the program more or less hopeless for future recruits, in my opinion.

Jordan said...

FWIW, this is what I wrote to some members of the administration. I didn't intend for it to be an angry letter about how unhappy I am with everything, because it's still so new and we know so little. And really, only time will tell how wise this decision was. But how the university responds will be telling, and I thought I'd at least put it out there that we're watching, and this is bigger than hockey.

-------------

To Vice Chancellor Bradley-Doppes, Chancellor Coombe, and the Board of Trustees:

I am twice an alumnus of the University, and met my wife at DU. We have been hockey season ticket holders since our freshman year, continuing after we graduated.

I do not expect or demand an explanation on what happened with Coach Gwozdecky, because I know that's not the way things get done at DU. But I implore you, as someone who is connected to the University in many ways, to make a wise choice with who you hire to succeed him, because it will be a clear indicator to your constituents of your vision for the future of DU.

I realize that those of us in the general public are not privy to a fraction of the challenges faced in administration or the athletic department. But we do deal with perceptions, especially as alumni, and DU matters to us every single day.

The investment and emphasis on basketball has been noteworthy and valid, and I'm sure it can be lucrative in financial terms. But in my view, sports like hockey and lacrosse, where DU can be relevant at the top, are crucial to the very identity of the University. Please do not let the Pioneers become the kind of basketball-centric athletic department that makes the tournament every few years or so, is ecstatic about it, but in the big picture only fades into mid-major oblivion with the rest of the 347 D-I programs in that sport. DU's full menu of sports is unique and important, especially where we can realistically expect to compete for championships.

Right now, with the Boone issue (admittedly small potatoes, but the approach the university has taken could be indicative), Coach Gwozdecky's release, and all of the conference alignment challenges, alumni and supporters feel uncertain and to an extent, left out. I do not mean to lecture or postulate on whether or not any of these things were the right decision, because I do not believe I have the platform or information to do so. I believe (and hope) that everyone involved in these decisions realizes that the identity forged through the athletics department is not tangential to the identity of the University as a whole; these things matter deeply to those of us who are alumni, season ticket holders, and would-be donors.

As a Pioneer, I would again, humbly, ask you to make a statement through your choice of successor for Coach Gwozdecky, because it will resonate far beyond the hockey team.

Sincerely,

-----
Jordan Hahn
BSBA, IMBA '11

Anonymous said...

I remember when I had my first beer.

timt89 said...

Jordan-
Brilliantly stated.

Anonymous said...

Jordan, that means a lot coming from Timmy.

Dunker said...

ROUGH 2 DAYS GUYS
I saw Gwoz's last game in person guys. Not that big a deal driving up to Manchester from New Jersey. One day, I will have him autograph my ticket stub. I sat behind Peg at the game and we chatted. She has a great poker face. She thanked me for my support in Manchester and Vegas.
Tierney's emotion today makes me nervous. Is his love affair with DU coming to an end. I certainly hope not. We have a excellent chance for a lax championship this year.
My first love is DU. Nothing close But living in New Jersey and having a masters from Rutgers, I support RU sports as my second school. RU hoops had about as bad an off season day as one can imagine.
DU fires the classiest coach in the country. Rutgers it appears did not fire a loose cannon who had no business coaching young men. They will now.

I did have a rough 24 hours guys.

GO DU!!

Anonymous said...

"I know that's not the way things get done at du"
Way to show maturity burger flipper Jordan- no university can or will comment on such things

Also, bringing up Boone minimizes your credibility, the stuffed boy is a non-issue (coach is big issue )

Good try at being professional , next draft maybe better

Anonymous said...

That's what a quarter million in student loans gets you.

Note to self, Jordan ........ Stick to grilling.

Jordan said...

Always glad to get unsolicited, anonymous advice on the internet. I'll really take it to heart.

Some days, I wonder if I shouldn't just grill instead. Having a job and a commute can just be so hard when you're used to being a spoiled rotten DU kid, ya know?

I did preface it with FWIW, your assessment of its worth is noted. I don't have any expectations of it being read or mattering to anyone.

Jordan said...

And you're right about virtually no university commenting on this sort of thing. I'll concede that.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, this decision appears to have been made by the BOT some time ago. It was really just a question of whether Gwoz was going to coach to the end of his existing contract and then be cut loose or whether DU was willing to eat the final year and start from scratch with the new league. There had been a continual game of chicken between Gwoz and the AD for the past few years and it finally came to a head. We can cry in our beer about what happened but that won't change anything. Time to move on and choose the best candidate out there.

Anonymous said...

Jordan, good letter. I plan to express my opinion, too, and hope that others do, as well. I hope Peg and the admin have a plan to communicate honestly about what happened and a planned direction for the future. Gwoz's speech today got big press coverage in all Denver news outlets, and Tierney's emotional speech got some coverage, as well. The public is pretty much WTF about the gwoz firing, and the university would be well served by not letting this sit dormant for too long.

Anonymous said...

Every time I think about this I feel sick to my stomach.

DJ Powers said...

You'll like this one, dg.

I remember a conversation that Coach Gwozdecky and I had at the 2011 Frozen Four. He had read some of and knew about the coverage over the years that I've done on the DU alum that have played in the Snoopy Tournament. He said that the alum loved my Snoopy coverage and he thanked me for the work that I had done in telling their stories.

Truly a great person and coach. I'll certainly miss him.

dggoddard said...

Thanks DJ.