Motzko named as Gophers new head coach


Dakota Student / Nicholas Nelson

Succeeding Don Lucia, Bob Motzko was named the Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey head coach on March 27, 2018 with a five-year contract worth $2.9M.

Nick Erickson, Sports Writer

Bob Motzko, after taking the St. Cloud State Huskies to potentially one of their biggest and best chances at a historic season, decided to move on to his true calling of becoming the head coach of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team.

Don Lucia resigned on March 20 which left it up in the air as to who would become the new head coach for one of the most prestigious NCAA hockey programs in the country. That man turned out to be Bob Motzko, who had been an assistant to Don Lucia during the repeat championship seasons in 2002 and 2003. Motzko has had an impressive career at St. Cloud State, bringing the Huskies to become a top-tier competitor in the NCAA.

This past season, the Huskies went 25-9-6 with one of those wins coming against his new team, the Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota in a 5-2 beatdown on Friday night. However, Minnesota made a comeback to shut out Motzko’s Huskies the following night 2-0.

Motzko has made quite the impact on Minnesota hockey with his ferocity and competitive attitude toward winning. This past season he was in what seemed to be an argument with Denver’s head coach on the ice following the post-game handshakes at Denver’s home sweep of the Huskies. The fire in his tenacious dedication to his team and this game will be something that Minnesota will be excited to have brought back to the Mariucci Arena.

Motzko had agreed to a five-year contract with the university worth more than 2.9 million dollars. His starting salary will be based at $525,000 according to a memorandum of understanding provided by the university. He will make $565,000 the following year and that will increase by five percent over the remaining years on his contract. Lucia, however, was making $612,500. It’s important to note that Motzko was making $302,000 at SCSU in his final year. However, the tantalizing excitement of coaching at Minnesota and his true calling of coaching there was what Motzko found to be the real reason he departed from SCSU and moved onto the next chapter in his career.

The native of Austin, Minnesota had an infatuation with coaching for the University of Minnesota. He was one of four individuals that were interviewed for the new hiring. The other three were the associate head coach to Don Lucia, Mike Guentzel, Minnesota assistant coach Scott Bell, and Northern Michigan coach Grant Potulny, who was a former assistant at Minnesota as well as a three-year captain for the Golden Gophers.

Motzko leaves the Huskies after reaching the NCAA tournament 13 times including a Frozen Four appearance back in 2013. The Huskies also won the NCHC regular season title this past season and lost to Denver in the NCHC postseason conference championship game. It’s also important to remember that Motzko led team USA in the 2017 world Junior team to a gold medal and the bronze medal in 2018.

Minnesota becomes a highly relevant team again as the 57-year old Motzko joins the squad as the leader. They look to reverse the past three season-depression after missing the NCAA tournament in two of those three seasons. The Big 10 conference will now be a powerhouse conference having strong teams this past season with Minnesota regaining their strength. Ohio State, University of Michigan and Notre Dame will all be playing for the NCAA championship game this coming weekend wrapping up three of the four spots in the Frozen Four. Next year, Minnesota hopes to make their return to the Frozen Four under new leadership.

Nick Erickson is a sports writer for the Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]