Speculating on Penn State
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Penn State has managed to keep the lid on its head coaching search. All that you hear are logical "potential" candidates — people that everyone "assumes" Penn State will go after just because they are proven coaches.
For the most part, those speculations are probably right. Penn State assistant athletic director, and former club team coach, Joe Battista, who is leading the search committee, promised to search far and wide for a quality coach to lead the program. And there are plenty out there to choose from.
That means that Penn State, most likely, reached out to plenty of people that it thought were good candidates — people that are currently proven winners, such as Wisconsin women's coach Mark Johnson. Johnson's pedigree is, of course, impeccable. Or how about current Denver coach George Gwozdecky? How about a bevy of current NHL assistant coaches with college ties?
All of these were probably on the table.
All I do know right now is that Penn State had about 50 quality applicants to choose from, and whittled that down to about 10 semifinalists. Next will be interviews from among those 10 — but not necessarily all — and those have already started.
Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky is a name that comes up a lot. He is on the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee, and so I saw him a lot at the Frozen Four. Without getting into specifics about himself, personally, which he wouldn't want to publicly divulge anyway, Gadowsky said that the Penn State opening is far more attractive to coaches than say Massachusetts-Lowell. This is no offense to Lowell, it's just that the prospect of starting your own program from scratch is appealing to coaches.
It's hard to say if all coaches feel that way, but many do, for sure.
Of the names you hear thrown around, the best we can do is speculate, so take this for what it's worth.
I don't think Mark Johnson wants to leave Madison for this position. I don't think Penn State will pay George Gwozdecky enough to jump ship. You hear the names like Nate Leaman (Union), Scott Sandelin (Minnesota-Duluth), Gadowsky, Mark Dennehy (Merrimack) and Mike Schafer (Cornell) thrown around. These are all feasible. If the Penn State selection committee really thought there was someone they wanted in that bunch, there is every reason to believe they'd interview. Only Schafer is an alum of the aforementioned school.
Like we said, there have been people with current NHL ties that has drawn Penn State's interest, though it's hard to say how far that has gotten with anyone in particular. Penn State should be careful about bringing in a coach that has never had to recruit in Division I hockey.
One name that you should keep an eye on: Phil Housley. Housley happens to be a favorite of Terry Pegula, who happens to be the guy that donated the $88 million necessary for Penn State to start his program. A lifelong Buffalo Sabres fan, Pegula also recently bought the NHL team. Housley, a long-time standout NHL defenseman, has been coaching high school hockey in Minnesota and is active in the USA Hockey program, recently acting as an assistant coach for the World Junior team this past winter. He is also an assistant for Team USA at the World Championships, going on right now in Europe.
Housley jumped straight to the NHL as an 18-year old, finished with 1,495 NHL games, and never played a game in the minor leagues.
Again, just speculation.