Mike Hastings could have gone a few different routes when selecting his coaching staff after he was hired in April. He could have cleaned house. He could have kept one assistant around and brought in one of "his guys." Or he could have kept both coaches around.
"Hasty" wasn't hasty in his decision.
The process perhaps took a little longer than was inferred during Hastings' first couple of weeks on the job, but after spending nearly two months working with Darren Blue and Todd Knott, he opted to keep both assistant coaches.
Blue had a full year remaining on his contract, and Knott's expired on June 30, but Hastings said he was under no pressure to keep either coach around. And considering the university's decision to change head coaches, pay Hastings a significant salary (while having to pay the balance of Troy Jutting's contract) and renew its commitment to the men's hockey program, Hastings would and should have had every right to make any changes to the staff he felt necessary to start getting the program back on track.
Perhaps some of those changes will come in the form of redefined duties, workload and expectations of assistants, but the fact that Hastings basically hired both for his staff speaks volumes.
Blue, 41, has been a part of the MSU staff since 2000 when Jutting was hired as head coach. He is firmly rooted in the community is well-connected in Mankato and has represented the hockey program well in the area. Hastings noted on Tuesday about how Blue has kept in close contact with alumni (Blue is also an alum) as well.
"He's a man of many hats," Hastings said. "People have a lot of respect for him here. Darren is pretty intertwined in this community and this university."
Those community and alumni connections are important, but Hastings also wants Blue as a coach first and foremost. That's part of the reason why the team will be hiring a director of hockey operations this summer.
Knott, 33, will be going into his fourth season with the Mavericks. Hastings said he didn't know Knott as well as he knew Blue going into the job. But Knott made a strong impression, especially as a recruiter, over the last couple of months.
"He's confident in what he does and what he sees as a recruiter," Hastings said. "He's willing to stick his neck out for his beliefs. I like his conviction."
Hastings also said other coaches around college hockey have seen Knott in action and told him that he had a good assistant.
Interesting notes on the Mavericks' coaching staff: All three grew up in northwestern Minnesota. Hastings is from Crookston, Blue is from East Grand Forks and Knott is from Red Lake Falls. All three played at and graduated from MnSCU schools. Hastings went to St. Cloud State, Blue went to Minnesota State and Knott went to Bemidji State.