May 29, 2008 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Hastings Tabbed as Minnesota Assistant

CHN Staff Report

MINNEAPOLIS — Mike Hastings, who has the most coaching wins in the history of the United States Hockey League, has been named new assistant coach at Minnesota.

Hastings replaces Mike Guentzel, who left last month. He said in a statement he wanted to spend more time with his family, though published reports in Minneapolis suggested he was pushed out the door by head coach Don Lucia.

Hastings just led the Omaha Lancers to this year's USHL title — the Clark Cup — and national junior hockey championships. He was 529-210-56 record in 14 seasons as the team's head coach. Hastings had just stepped down as the team's coach to become its president.

"After a month-long search and talking to numerous people, I believe Mike Hastings is the right fit for Gopher hockey," Lucia said. "He is a former defenseman who has established himself by winning over 70 percent of his games over the last 14 years in the USHL. Mike has recruiting contacts all over North America, but his ties with the USHL will prove invaluable to our program."

Hastings never had a losing season in Omaha and was the USHL Coach of the Year in 1996-97 and 2001-02. Also the team's general manager, Hastings won the league's General Manager of the Year award five times in 1996-97, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2006-07 and 2007-08.

"Mike is from Minnesota and knows the culture of our state and certainly the pride fans have for Gopher hockey," Lucia said. "I wanted someone who was experienced as a coach and recruiter and Mike has a proven record of success in both. I have been recruiting players from Omaha for 14 years and they are always well-prepared for college on and off the ice. Mike is a demanding coach who will leave no stone unturned in his pursuit of excellence."

"I've been fortunate to have spent the time I had in Omaha," Hastings said. "The idea of getting back to the college game is exciting. I know that, going forward, I've always supported our guys moving on and I know the players and staff here feel the same way."

Hastings has coached numerous players who went on to play at Minnesota, including Evan Kaufmann, Mike Howe and Tony Lucia from the 2007-08 Gophers. Incoming players Nico Sacchetti and Nick Larson also played under Hastings in Omaha as well as former Gopher standouts Keith Ballard and Grant Potulny.

"I really enjoyed my time with him and I think he's a good fit," Ballard said. "He's a proven winner and a passionate coach and I think he'll do a great job."

Hastings was an assistant coach for the U.S. national junior team in 2003 and 2005 at the World Junior Championship. He also guided the USA Hockey junior select team to its first-ever gold medal at the Viking Cup in 2000 after leading the team to a silver medal finish in 1996.

A Crookston, Minn. native, Hastings attended St. Cloud State University.

"I grew up in the state and saw firsthand the pride of Gopher hockey in Minnesota," Hastings said. "To be a part of that is a unique opportunity and will make me proud to go to work every day. It's something that our entire family is excited about."

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