Wednesday was a newsy day for the WCHA (we can stop calling it the "new" WCHA, right?) and not necessarily a good one for the schools involved.
In the afternoon, Alabama Huntsville announced that coach Kurt Kleinendorst has resigned after one year on the job. Remember, he got the position just before last season started after Chris Luongo stepped down. However, despite helping get the Chargers into a more stable situation with WCHA membership (even with a ) college hockey is not Kleinendorst's passion. Previously, he was a head coach in the AHL and an NHL assistant and scout.
"This has been a great experience for me — my first in collegiate sports," he said in a UAH press release. "I've grown to really respect the college game. This is just about me being true to myself, and my passion is for pro hockey."
Huntsville went 3-21-1 last year as a D1 independent last season, including a loss and a tie against Minnesota State. It will be interesting to see who the Chargers hire to take the program into the WCHA.
Meanwhile, in Anchorage, Alaska, the folks there were on Day 61 without a Seawolves hockey coach (still shooting for June 15!), and they decided to fire athletic director Steve Cobb due to distractions caused by criticism of Cobb, UAA Chancellor Tom Case said in a press release.
It's a mess in Anchorage. Dave Shyiak was fired as head coach on March 29, and the search since then has been a circus. First, four finalists were brought on campus for interviews in late April/early May. But an outcry from boosters and alumni — including a vote of no-confidence in Cobb by the Alaska State Hockey Association — caused the search to be suspended and restarted. Since then, there was an open forum for interested and passionate parties to express their views on the program and even a letter from Alaska's governor telling UAA to "take a stand" on athletic issues. Oh, did I mention that it came out that Shyiak had been accused of hitting a player with a hockey stick and that there had been an investigation into that by Cobb two years ago?
As for Cobb, he's going down swinging. Besides threatening a lawsuit, he got out the flamethrower, saying University of Alaska President "Patrick Gamble may be mentally ill." He said Gamble has given the university to a lobbyist and "a few local scoundrels," which is "by definition insane and I intend to prove it in court."
Cobb has not been afraid to speak his mind. When six teams broke away from the WCHA two years ago to form the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, Cobb called their plan a "sneaky back-door deal."
So which program — Huntsville or Anchorage — is more stable right now? Two years ago, Huntsville's program was on the brink of elimination, only to get a last-second reprieve. Financial commitments and a spot in a conference have righted the ship, even though it's looking for its fourth coach in five years. Then there's Anchorage, which has bungled its coaching search after firing Shyiak following eight losing seasons.