Lucia, Minnesota Talking Contract Extension
CHN Staff Report
MINNEAPOLIS Two coaches have already been let go, and uncertainty surrounds others. But one coach that has been on the hot seat is definitely not going anywhere.
Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi said Tuesday that he is discussing a contract extension for coach Don Lucia, putting to bed any ideas that he may be looking for a change. Lucia has one year left on his current deal.
At his weekly press conference, this time to wrap up the season after the Gophers were swept at home by Alaska-Anchorage in the WCHA playoffs, Lucia said he is looking forward to returning for the long haul.
"I want to be here, and someday when I leave here, I want to leave when it's going good," Lucia said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I want to win another national title; I don't want to just make the Frozen Four. I want to walk away when we're on top, and I want to get that back. That's my goal."
Lucia took over in 1999-2000, and led Minnesota to back-to-back national championships in 2002 and 2003. However, after finishing 16-14-6, the Gophers failed to make the NCAAs this season for the third straight year.
Lucia has been criticized in some circles for not keeping up with a changing landscape in college hockey, one which has seen blue-chip players come and go quickly. Others have questioned his ability to develop players, despite numerous Minnesota products spread througout the NHL. Lucia addressed these issues in a one-on-one interview with CHN last summer.
Maturi and Lucia met Monday to discuss a new deal. According to the Pioneer Press, Maturi said Tuesday, "I wanted to make sure he knew I wanted him as our hockey coach. There is a lot of anger and frustration out there; he's hearing it and I'm hearing it. But I'm still the AD today and I want him to be coaching our men's hockey team."
Maturi is expected to retire soon, according to reports.
Lucia is 555-324-90 in 24 seasons as a Division I head coach. He spent six seasons at Alaska-Fairbanks, then went to Colorado College, where he built the program into a power that made the Frozen Four twice, and the national title game once (1996). After missing the NCAAs his first season with Minnesota, the Gophers made it eight straight times under Lucia, winning 27 or more games for the first seven years of that run.