Friday, June 24, 2011

Rumor: Hill Out, Guentzel In as Assistant Coach

The rumor mill is swirling today as multiple sources including the near-ironclad HammyHockey are reporting that John Hill is out as assistant coach for the Gophers and Mike Guentzel is in.

Guentzel, of course, was a stalwart assistant from 1994-2008 for the Maroon and Gold including coaching during the Gophers' back-to-back national championships in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003. Guentzel was let go (some have speculated he was scapegoated and forced out) following the team's poor 2007-2008 performance.

Hill has coached the team ever since the departure of former Gopher assistant and current SCSU head coach Bob Motzko. He is the coach of the defense and is derided by many fans for a comment he made when he claimed the Gophers "don't tell our kids what to do, we encourage them."

An assistant at the University of Nebraska-Omaha last season, Guentzel is known to bleed maroon and gold and formerly coached the defense, where he will likely slide in on the Gopher bench. He coached recent Gopher greats Jordan Leopold, Paul Martin, Keith Ballard and Alex Goligoski into prominent positions in the NHL today.

This move is seen as a boon by many fans who have been discouraged by the poor defensive play over the past four seasons. Many hope Guentzel will be able to provide the coaching expertise necessary to get the Gophers back where they belong - at the top of the WCHA / Big Ten conference and fighting for national championships on a yearly basis.

EDIT: It's official - John Hill will not be returning as assistant coach next season. See this link from GopherSports for the official announcement: