Here's what went down in today's Free Press: Three stories on the Troy Jutting reassignment at Minnesota State:
Both MSU President Richard Davenport and athletic director Kevin Buisman heaped praise upon Jutting during the press conference. So much so that the question had to be repeated: Why make the change? All of the speakers, including Jutting, came back to one real theme, and that was economics. Specifically, they're hoping a new coach will pump some life into a dwindling fan base, boost walk-up ticket sales, season-ticket sales and Blue Line Club memberships. Said Buisman: "We hope the investment we make in a new coach will help us revive interest in the program and bring fans back into the stands. All those factors will help turn it financially.
Jutting addressed his team, as did Buisman, on Sunday night, and they were pretty shocked by the move, according to the players present at the press conference. They didn't seem angry. Eriah Hayes said he had mixed feelings about it but owed a lot to Jutting. Tyler Elbrecht said he hopes this will bring the team closer together. Former MSU coach Don Brose also attended the event and said he was "saddened" about the decision.
Finally, we look to the the future a bit. Buisman said he has a short list of candidates that he'd like to recruit, and Davenport said the university has already received calls about the head coaching job. When will they get a person in place? Quickly, they said but did not mention a timeline. Davenport said by the end of summer, but he may have misspoke. Buisman said there's a 5-6 week window between now and the end of the school year. The players both said they'd like to know who will be leading them before the semester ends.
A couple of other nuggets worth noting:
• Associate coach Darren Blue's contract with MSU runs through June 30, 2013, the same time Jutting's deal ends. Assistant coach Todd Knott has a contract through June 30 of this year. Buisman said he would encourage whomever is hired to consider both coaches.
• According to MSU VP of finance and administration Rick Straka, the fact that Jutting is due to make about $200,000 over the remaining 15 months of his contract will not be a detriment to the search for a new coach. Straka called it a "university cost," not a cost specific to the budgets of the hockey team or the athletic department. He also doesn't believe it will be a "sunk cost," considering Jutting's new position at the university and if attendance/support increase with the presence of new coach.
• Both Davenport and Buisman said that outside pressure did not factor into the coaching change. Said the president: "There are always a lot of rumors in regard to the hockey program. I didn't personally feel any pressure to make the change."