Sioux coach Hakstol signs 6-year dealGRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota has made plans to keep Dave Hakstol as its head men’s hockey coach for a long time.
By: Brad Schlossman, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota has made plans to keep Dave Hakstol as its head men’s hockey coach for a long time.
The eight-year veteran, who has won more games than any coach in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association since taking over in 2004, signed a new, six-year contract Thursday that will go through the 2017-18 season.
Hakstol’s contract calls for a base salary of $300,000 with possible bonuses for the team’s performance on the ice and in the classroom. The bonuses, capped at 45 percent or $135,000, and deferred income could potentially bump his annual compensation over $400,000.
The assistant coaches — Cary Eades and Dane Jackson — also were addressed in the new contract. A pool of $262,874 will be divided in some way — not necessarily equally — between them for the 2012-13 season. They have bonus potential as well.
Contracts for the assistant coaches will be renewed annually and the pool to pay them will increase 3 percent for each of the remaining seasons.
“It’s important, in my mind, to have Dave behind the bench and make sure we locked that in,” UND athletic director Brian Faison said. “His record competitively, the academic performance of his players and the job they do in the community … all of those factors made this a no-brainer. It’s something we definitely needed to do.”
Hakstol said: “It’s a special place to have an opportunity to come to work every day. I think everyone knows here how special this program is and I’m very happy to have a chance to continue in this role, continue to learn and improve and get better. We’re going to continue to push as hard as we can to keep moving forward and improving this program.”
The Sioux have been one of the country’s most successful teams since Hakstol took over for Dean Blais in 2004. They have won either the MacNaughton Cup, the Broadmoor Trophy or earned a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in each of Hakstol’s eight seasons.
Hakstol has been a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year in six of his eight years and was named the Inside College Hockey national coach of the year this spring.
He has led UND to five Frozen Fours, four Broadmoor Trophy titles and two MacNaughton Cups.
“I think his competitive record speaks for itself,” Faison said. “I know one of the great frustrations is not winning a national championship. But overall, his record is remarkable. This year was an interesting gauge. It might have been Dave’s best coaching job. I know the coaches don’t like to think that way, but given all of the things that had to be overcome — the injuries, the players who did not report — and to go from 11th in December to a No. 1 seed in the West Regional and a third straight Broadmoor? That’s remarkable.”
Hakstol’s reputation outside of Grand Forks is high, especially in the pro hockey community. Seventeen of Hakstol’s players have played in the NHL so far, 11 in their first year after leaving UND.
Several of them are standouts at the next level: Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Drew Stafford, Travis Zajac and Matt Greene.
“He’s an honest, hard-working, passionate coach who cares about his kids and cares about his program,” CBS college hockey analyst Dave Starman said. “To me, the biggest affirmation of his success is his ability to build a team and to let a team build itself. That’s a trademark of great pro hockey teams. A lot of teams get better because they’re allowed to develop and allowed to make mistakes (early in the season). I look at North Dakota’s teams and they always get better. I think he lets them find their way a little bit.”
UND’s success has led to strong attendance at home games, where the Sioux rank second nationally during Hakstol’s tenure. They’ve also had strong showings on the road and at the WCHA Final Five.
“That’s incredibly strong, not only for the hockey program, but for the university as well,” Faison said.
The Sioux have hosted a first-round WCHA playoff series in each of his years as coach, which is vital for the school’s budget. The Sioux have won each of those series and earned an NCAA tournament berth every year under Hakstol. Michigan is the only other school that has made the NCAAs in each of the last eight years.
UND will play one final season in the WCHA in 2012-13, then it will move to the start-up National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
“We have one year left in the WCHA, then we see a lot of changes,” Hakstol said. “There are going to be a lot of challenges that come with those changes. We look forward to those. We’ll have to adjust and adapt. Those will be exciting and challenging times.”
Schlossman is a sports reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.