Monday, April 16, 2012

Hastings era begins

John Cross/The Free Press
Mike Hastings was back working a press conference in Mankato on Monday, just three days after being introduced as a "candidate" for the Minnesota State men's hockey coaching job. This time, he was the coach.

Hastings covered a gamut of topics related to his hiring and Maverick hockey. Among them:

• He told athletic director Kevin Buisman that if everything worked out he'd have needs and wants. He didn't go into too much detail on those, especially the wants. However, the needs included upgraded facilities and pitched his support for the renovations to the Verizon Wireless Center included in the bonding proposal. He said if that if it didn't pass, "then we've got to find another way to get our facilities taken care of. If we need to do that we're going to have to turn to the people of this area."

• Another need had to do with additional support for the team that takes some pressure off the assistant coaches, whom he wants to concentrate on recruiting and developing players. That support includes academic advising, training and hockey operations. Does this mean a full-time hockey ops person will be hired?

• On those notes, a big theme of the day was about commitment, and it seems MSU is indeed ramping up its commitment to hockey and making it, as Buisman said, the "marquee" sport at the university.

• Speaking of assistants, Hastings said he wants to talk to associate head coach Darren Blue and assistant Todd Knott about their futures in the next six or seven days. Blue has a full season remaining on his contract, while Knott's runs out June 30. Hastings had godo things to say about both men and added that hockey is a small world, not one like football where staffs get wiped out when a new coach comes in. Stay tuned.

• Hastings met with the team around 1 p.m., before the players had their weight-lifting session. The players seemed to like what they heard from them and were relived to have a coach in place. Jean-Paul LaFontaine said "family" seemed to be the theme of the day.

• Hastings will meet with the players individually during the first week of May, which is also finals week. He said he wants to hear their opinions of the program, what they like, what they don't like. He said he will also talking about his expectations and try to get them to buy in.

• Why the first week of May? Well, Hastings left Mankato Monday evening and headed out to where all coaches are this time of year — on the recruiting trail. USHL playoffs are beginning, and Canadian junior leagues in the postseason. He wants to meet with the Mavericks' signed players either face to face or by phone as quickly as possible. Next week, he'll go to Florida for the WCHA meetings and the hockey coaches convention.

You can read more about Hastings in Tuesday's edition of The Free Press. I'll also be working on a more extensive feature on the new coach for a future edition of the paper.


OldTimeHockey said...

Hey Shane,
Thanks for the wonderful coverage.

Any chance you could put together a list of past and present Mavs that played for Hastings elsewhere? Both active and alumni of the MSU program. It would be very intersting to gain some feedback from both alumni that played for the new coach as well as other alumni's reaction in general to the change-and in particular some of the alumni that may step forward in light of the change with finanical committments to improvments-Backes, Carter, and Jackman being at the top of the list.

Some may be so disconnected they are not even aware of the change.

OldTimeHockey said...

And the obvious question. How does the math work out and who is pitching in to help cover the salary?

OldTimeHockey said...

David Backes, former Minnesota State forward and current St. Louis Blue captain
"Playing against Mike Hastings-coached teams in the past, they are always well-structured, hard working and tough to play against. I think he will be a great asset to MSU Hockey moving forward."