|John Cross/The Free Press|
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.