Monday, April 08, 2013

News & Notes From Around PioNation

(above) Terry Frei is not impressed with DU's handling of the Coach Gwodecky firing
According to a Twitter from Andrew Weiss of Future Considerations, "In wake of Coach Gwozdecky’s departure, NTDP U18’s Gage Ausmus has decommitted from the University of Denver."
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College Hockey News reprinted an article that first appeared in LetsGoDU asking questions about the firing of University of Denver hockey coach George Gwozdecky.  The role of the Board of Trustees in this firing is critical on many levels.  Certainly far more important than the excuses trumpeted by the Athletic Department about the firing.
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Terry Frei of the Denver Post penned a commentary on the firing of George Gwoxdecky calling DU "arrogant" for not answering questions about the firing.
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The DU women's lacrosse team defeated longtime nemesis #10 Stanford 14-10 and UC Davis 13-11 this past weekend.  This may be shaping up as a special season for the Pioneers who are 13-1-0 so far this season.
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The University of Denver club rugby team won the Pacific West Championships this past weekend after defeating Cal Maritime Academy 21-17 & Occidental College 31-27.  DU Rugby will now advance to the Final Four.

47 comments:

miller said...

This is troubling, though not unexpected. If you are 18 years old and you see what is happening with DU hockey at the moment, why jeopardize your collegiate career with a program that is in transition, or should I say chaos.

Twister said...

Re: Gage Ausmus---this is the type of collateral damage from the Gwoz debacle that really worries me. As DU fans, we know that just about every year we deal with early departures. It's the nature of the beast, with the talent level arriving year in and year out. But it's these future recruits who, if they decide to bail, will really hurt.

Anonymous said...

This is just disgusting from DU Athletics. Dismiss one of the most revered college hockey coaches around with no transparency on true cause and no plan to immediately fill the position. In the meantime, top players leave for the pros and arguably our top recruit de-commits. The AD and university should be ashamed at this entire process. If they're too blind to see the egg on their face, then they're beyond hope.

du78 said...

Don't forget DU Men's Lax beat Bellarmine 11-10 in double OT yesterday at Barton. They face defending NCAA champ Loyola in Maryland next weekend.

dggoddard said...

Ausmus was probably DU's #3 recruit.

Our top two incoming recruits are Will Butcher and Trevor Moore. Lose those two and DU will be heading towards some 10 will seasons in the near future.

2013 Recruiting Class
D Matt Van Voorhis (Sioux Falls, USHL)
F Brad Hawkinson (Lincoln Stars, USHL)
F Landon Smith (Chicago, USHL)
F Connor Chatham (Omaha, USHL)
F Ray Pigozzi (Chicago, USHL)
D Will Butcher (U.S. Under-18)
F Trevor Moore (Tri-City, USHL)
D Gage Ausmus (U.S. Under-18)
D Nick Neville (Texas, NAHL)

Anonymous said...

Smart kid!

dggoddard said...

The Club Rugby Four will be held in Denver in three weeks:

Saturday April 27

1PM - New England College (Northeast Region Champion) vs. Duke (Mid-Atlantic South Region Champion)
3PM - St. John's University (Central Region Champion) vs. DU (PacWest Region Champion)

Sunday April 28

10:30AM - 3rd Place
12:15PM - PacWest 7s Final*
1PM - Championship Game
3PM - Awards Ceremony

Anonymous said...

Any recruit that turns down a scholarship to DU because of the coaching change is not the kind of player we want here, in my opinion.

All that shows me is that the player puts the coach before the program, and that probably also means that player puts himself before the team.

I know how important coaches are to these players. But at the same time, DU has done an excellent job picking coaches for all of its sports. DU will have a qualified coach here, and all the recruits will get a shot at proving themselves. If you are good a enough player, you will get to get the next level, regardless of what coach is behind the bench.

You either are a Pioneer, or you are not...

Anonymous said...

You might want to pass that view point on to your fellow bloggers here at let's go DU, not let's go Gwoz.

This is simple stuff folks..... Gwoz's demands did not fit Du's budget. You can win multiple nc's and be overpriced. Negotiating 101...... Zero leverage against the folks signing the checks equals being shown the door.

Anonymous said...

2:16 - you are right in concept, but there was more to the firing than Gwoz' contract demands being too difficult for the admin to accept. That was a core element of the the dispute, not not the only reason he was shown the door.

There was also his four years of pushing for the extension (a bit too early for some) and there were dalliances with other programs in the negotitating process to up his leverage that angered some board members.

And there that annoying 1-6 record in the NCAA didn't help, either.

Add it all up, and that's why the Board pulled the trigger. To me, those things don't add up to fireable offenses, but the Board had had enough, and they write the checks.

Anonymous said...

Funny how Frei rips DU for being arrogant about the whole Metro thing as well and that part is ignored. He was just stating how the average Denver resident feels about DU on a day to day basis. I support DU hockey but you have to have totally blinding C&G colored glasses on to realize that a lot of Denver residents despise DU completely.

Anonymous said...


"Any recruit that turns down a scholarship to DU because of the coaching change is not the kind of player we want here, in my opinion."

What's your type of player? One that wants to go to a great city that doesn't give a shit about DU hockey? One that wants to go to a metro area of $2M+, but can't fill up a 6k seat arena? You're sorely mistaken if some kid from a small town in western Canada or Minnesota wants to go to a big(er) city with no hockey knowlegde. A reputable coach and recruiter lures them there. Without Gwoz, why would you come to DU? Your asking a HOCKEY player to come to a school that just proved that they don't care about hockey.

Goes to show you what a great coach Gwoz was is/was. Picks a recruit off, right in UND's backyard. For many recruits, its about the coach and not about DU. This firing has set DU back a solid decade.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious that the folks that are bitching the loudest about Gwoz being fired have zero business experience.

Furthermore, coaches get fired all the time in college sports. It's not personal, it's just business. There is nobody here that knows a GD thing about what went in to the decision to let Gwoz go.

Lastly, DU has no obligation to explain or justify anything. Simply put, it was time for a change, new coach, new vision, end of subject.

miller said...

Wow Anon, I have run my business for many years. I have had to make a payroll so I guess I do have some level of business experience. I am one of those questioning the wisdom of Gwoz being fired.



Anonymous said...

What is "UND's backyard?" The patch of dirt behind a trailer park?

Anonymous said...

Miller,

Wonderful, you have a business background.

Scenario......You have an employee who is asking for more than he is worth to the profitability of the business. He's a nice guy, everyone likes him. But he is unrealistic in his salary demands, in YOUR opinion.

You elect not to renew his contract.

Do you, as the owner of the company, have to explain this decision to anyone?

I doubt it. I think you say thanks for your service and move on.

timt89 said...

The main issue is not Gwozdecky getting fired (too late!), it is about transparency. I think we can all get distracted by discussions about recruiting, Metropolitan State University, community standing, defections, board politics, etc… We deserve a formal vision of what things will look like with the hockey program moving forward and assurances that there is a plan to remain competitive and compete for national championships.

The argument from the University is they cannot publicly comment on personnel changes. However, they can give us a picture of what the world will look like going forward, their objectives and priorities - and that is what we all want to know. If they wait until the announcement of the new coach, there will either be a press riot during the 'meet the coach' event or there will be crickets because the media will refuse to be used by the University. The pressure is building and someone needs to step up--either from the Board or the AD or (better yet) both. They better soon because, based on the conversations in this blog, we are starting to eat our own!

Anonymous said...

3:14 You are wrong on so many counts.

DU has a great tradition of seven NCs, 27 league and playoff banners, 60+ NHL players, a top level facility and league, 95% jet travel, Regional TV games, a tremendous top 100 University, great weather in a great top 25 city that is a destination city for many people. It's not hard to attract players here. And there is plenty of hockey knowledge here too- DU has been playing hockey here for 60+ years and the AVs have won Stanley Cups here. Some 30% of DU's roster are Colorado kids.

There certainly is competition for the sports dollar here with 8 pro teams, 5 larger D-I public colleges nearby, and city/skiiing diversions, but our attendance is very comparable to BU and Michigan.

DU does care about hockey. It's still the flagship sport here. It's well funded. Will it ever approach UND level of fanaticism? No. And that's okay with us. We have some perspective here (and many more forms of winter simlulation), and we have plenty of things to offer a recruit that UND cannot match.

DU will not be set back a decade. The program is was in a good place when Gwoz was fired, and there will be no shortage of good coaching candidates. We will lose some recruits? Sure. But the hiring might also generate some if the right guy is picked...We love Gwoz, but the Board didn't. We're moving on, and I have confidence DU hockey will be nationally competitive in short order.

Anonymous said...

DU is a private school that will do what it needs to do on its own timetable.

DU's hockey vision is laid out in the strategic plan - "Maintain National Promience in Hockey" _

http://www.denverpioneers.com/fls/18600/pdf/Strat_Plan_web.pdf


That means they founded the NCHC and I am sure they will do what it takes to get a quality new coach.

dggoddard said...

What is Coach K worth to Duke?

Probably billions over the course of his career.

Determining Gwozdecky's value to DU is much smaller, but far greater than the school ever paid him in salary.

Besides ticket sales, there's donations, publicity, awareness locally and nationally, students who come to DU directly or indirectly because of DU's hockey program. There's also summer camps, hockey tournaments in Magness who knows what else.

And finally there's alumni and fans that follow & support the school initially because of the hockey program.

Determining Gwozdecky's contract value is probably akin to looking at economic impact than determining the value of an employee based on his sales.

old pio said...

We appear to be convinced that a (big?)part of Gwoz' dismissal was his "dalliance" with Ohio State. It's been referred to repeatedly. Many of us also say we hope the BOT had a plan here, and had reached out to some potential replacements. And if they did, aren't they guilty of the same "crime" Gwoz was?

old pio said...

Part II:

And more importantly, if the guy we hire had some contact with the DU, wouldn't HE also be guilty of the same "crime?" And why would it be wrong for Gwoz to talk to other schools but not our new coach?

Anonymous said...

Old Pio:

We love Gwoz. But you cannot apply the same moral standard to employees that you do employers. Why? Because it just doesn't matter...Employers always hold the upper hand in these matters. Always. Employees serve at the employers' pleasure. Always.

When Gwoz no longer pleased his employer, he was out.

Period. End of Story.

No one is un-expendable.

Anonymous said...

You know what we need to get this off everybody's minds? A girl. That's right, you heard me - A girl coach. Ever seen Slapshot II? Oh...not in a million years you say?? Ever heard of Monique Lamareaux from North Dakota? Accomplished college hockey player, United States Olympian. I hear she's looking for a hockey job. I dare you to think it couldn't happen.

Anonymous said...

5:39, you could be on to something. But, if we do get a girl, I would imagine that it will be Peg. And, only a result of DU handling this situation so poorly that we couldn't find a "real" head coach in time. Hell, if we continue to lose players at the current rate we might have to have girls walk-on to the team to play. It wouldn't be so bad. CC already does it and has a respectable record.

pesimisticfan said...

Joe Colborne with an absolutely disgusting play tonight, that made me nearly lose all respect for him as a player...DU guy or not. Yes, I am a Ranger fan, but in no way am I being biased. Steve Eminger was about to touch up for an icing, and Joe came flying in and purposely took out Eminger's skates from under him. If you saw this, you'll see where I'm coming from. Joe wasn't going for the puck in anyway, he was blatently taking out Eminger's legs from under him, which sent him into the boards in a potentially scary play. Luckily, he's OK. But, there is NO place for that in today's game, and Joe has lost all of my respect. And 1) no I'm not a Sioux fan b) I was a big Joe supporter at DU, but that was a total joke

timt89 said...

Is she hot? er uh, I mean qualified???

old pio said...

Just so we're clear: a BOT we assume canned an employee (at least in part) for having the temerity to test the market for his services, may be about to replace that employee with someone who did the same thing. And you find nothing even a little contradictory about that?

Anonymous said...

Christ, I need a dictionary to read old's comments.

Temerity .......seriously?

I guess that word was used by the gents when u were in college in the 40's.

Anonymous said...

8:24. I agree. OP often has me googling a word. My computer nearly crashes when him and ASAAG get together. I like it though...learn something new everyday. My favorite OP recent word is tu quoque.

Anonymous said...

We've reached a new low when the youngsters start discussing vocabulary ... OMG, LOL.... ;)

Anonymous said...

Denver Post is reporting that Don Granato is a candidate for the DU head coach position.

Granato is currently a head coach of the USA National Under 18. He's also been a head coach in the AHL (Worcester, Chicago), ECHL and USHL, and an assistant coach in the NHL (St. Louis). He played WCHA hockey at Wisconsin, and is brother to former AVs coach Tony Granato, and Hall of Fame women's player Cammi Granato.

While he's certainly experienced, it's been a while since he's won anything...

BringBackBoone said...

It seems to get glossed over but you cannot deny Coach Gwozdecky's record when in comes to recruiting and maintaining a competitive team.

For sure, 1-6 is not a good record when it comes to the national tourney. I think we all get that. But I am always amazed at the level of competition Coach Gwozdecky put on the ice each year.

There are so many places to play hockey where you come close to being THE team. Places where your home games are actually that - home games. Places where you are the only sport in town, or at least the best sport during the season. Places where your student section is always rocking, the band is always rocking and the game and atmosphere mean something.

Even though DU falls short (a fact I absolutely hate to see), top-notch players always found their way here. I have to believe it had everything to do with the culture and environment that Coach Gwozdecky cultivated over his 19 years.

And without a doubt, we will NEVER see anything like The Great Walk at North Dakota. That sums up Coach Gwozdecky and what he brought to our DU Pioneers.

I do believe he will be greatly missed.

Pucky said...

What top level coach would want to come to a place that did this to a guy like Gwozdecky? Good luck DU.
And re:to the guy who says anyone who would decommit because of the coach's firing isn't the kind of player we want: players don't have a loyalty to your school until after they've attended. They are looking to further their own careers, just as anyone in any field is when they choosing their school.

Anonymous said...

Any other thoughts on Don Granato as a potential coach? He has a solid coaching pedigree and ability to coach talented players as coach of the US developmental team. But no college head coaching experience. Would be interested to hear whether he should be considered an "A" candidate, or something less than that.

Anonymous said...

Ausmus was simply too good a player for Peg's vision of a team built on mediocrity. Gage has a bright future, He is smart, hard working and a great athlete. A perfect fit for a team with a leader like Gwoz. A rudderless ship with a vision of mediocrity ... kids like Ausmus are right to go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Granato is a very solid candidate. He's a more experienced coach than either Gwoz or Serratorre was when they were hired by DU in the 1990s.

As head coach of the US National
U-18 team, he knows the national talent pool among American players better than anyone, but will likely need a recruiter who knows Canada.

Experientially, his AHL and ECHL Head coaching esxperience and his NHL assistant coaching experience will offset his lack of college hockey coaching experience, but since he played college hockey at Wisconsin, the adjustment is a minor one.

The bigger concern with Don is he hasn't really won a season title since 2000. He's generally a .500 coach with some good seasons, but he's been fired a few times in his careeer. Of course, his famous brother Tony and perhaps more famous sister Cammi add a little family glamor to the potential hire, but at the end of the day, he's not a big enough name to offset Gwozdecky right away. He would have to win at DU to excite people.

Anonymous said...

DU won't be rudderless for long. A new coach will bring a new energy to the program, and with DU's tradition, facilities, academics and program success, I don't see the Pioneers being down for very long. This is not a program rebuild situation with poor facilities like Gowz faced in 1994 when he came here. This is a program that has done a lot of winning under Gwoz, and that's a much better place to start than trying to revive a losing program.

Anonymous said...

From my observation...if you're in with Graham...you're in with DU. Peg wouldn't know what to do without him. So Granato's Graham connection might seal the deal. Ron Graham runs DU's hockey program.....don't kid yourself.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie is certainly important in the hire...

One thing about Ronnie that kinda bugs me is that I wonder about his role in the Gwoz mess...

I am pretty sure all the DU coaches report to Ronnie (at least on a sport advisory basis) as well as reporting to Peg.

Could Ronnie have done more to get Gwoz to bend a more so as not to piss off the board/Peg? Could Ronnie have been more effective in placating the board's concerns?

Did Ronnie have any role in this?

Anonymous said...

"That means they founded the NCHC and I am sure they will do what it takes to get a quality new coach."

Founded the NCHC? I think instrumental in the founding of.... that might be a more accurate statement. Memo to DU douchebag alums....you don't walk on water, nor does your hockey team.

"we have plenty of things to offer a recruit that UND cannot match."

Agree, but you can't offer what UND offers in terms of HOCKEY facilities and fan support. Recruits are HOCKEY players. Would you rather be a tiny fish in a saturated market/football town that can't sell out a small arena, or would you rather be a huge fish in a tiny market that sells out an arena that holds 20% of the town population? Up to the player. What you see as an attraction as a Denver resident, may not be important to a HOCKEY player.

It is intereting how many times you see UND players thanking their fan base for all the support. You don't see that from DU players very often. Very often I notice that the DU student section is half full. I noticed it when I was in town last year for the UND series. I completely understand the agrument that there are other things to do in Denver. I'll give you that. Do hockey players care about that during hockey season? I doubt it.

The attraction to playing at DU was Gwoz. Not DU, not Denver. If your argument held true, why do St. Cloud, Duluth, Grand Forks, Oxford...etc attract good recruits. Why aren't all the top recruits coming to Denver? Well we know now why they won't be.

Anonymous said...

"It is intereting how many times you see UND players thanking their fan base for all the support. You don't see that from DU players very often."


DU’s fan base is so small that the players write personal thank you notes.

Anonymous said...

North Dakota athletes thank their fans, because they're the _only_ game in town. You're either a sports fan and support the Sioux or you stay home and watch TV. Denver athletics has to compete with the NHL, CHL, ECHL, NBA, a plethora of other area college sports, MLB, MLL, horse racing, High School sports, Soccer, water skiing, drag racing, snow skiing, mountain biking, hiking, Motocross, Rodeo, Zumba, Bunco and 16th Street Mall.

Anonymous said...

DU's fan base has never been more than 10,000-15,000 people and likely never will be more than that. It's a small, private school in a very oversaturated sports market with many competitors and other diversions. We are very lucky to have 5,000 people coming to our hockey games.

You will never see the rabid fanbase here that you will in other parts of the country, because Denver-area fans are spoiled with all the choices they have to spend their time. DU hockey is the #12-#15 sport in our own city.

Students come to DU to study and ski. Hockey is a distant third priority for most of them. The most students we've ever had a DU sporting event is perhaps 1,000.

Anonymous said...

Zumba!? Maybe your new coach should use that in a recruitment letters.

The last couple of posts have just reinforced my point. Your trying to recruit HOCKEY players. Your admitting hockey isn't a priority. Hockey enthusiasm is a priority for most hockey players. Gwoz was a great recruiter for DU and you no longer have him.

timt89 said...

All this conversation about crowds is a waste of time. I just care about championships. Look at the Frozen Four - hardly 'rabid' fan bases at Yale, Quinnapiac, and UM-Lowell.

Just win baby, the rest will take care of itself.

All the places with 'nothing to do' and a passionate fan base are going to be in front of their TV's watching the Frozen Four.

DU is in a great market with great facilities. The school is beautiful. If the coach can coach, DU has as good or better chance as any program to win big.

Anonymous said...

Hey Coach Miller - that '95 D-man from NJ (6', 200) is still available - - had solid year (on and off ice) at NEPSAC school, graduating '14 and will be ready for DU Fall, '14. (4 time USAH Dev Camp, etc, etc)