Thursday, May 5, 2011

Two for the Show

Fisher was Gadowsky's right...errr...left hand at Princeton.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky has added former Princeton assistants Keith Fisher and Matt Lindsay to his staff, Penn State announced yesterday.

First, let's farm the money quotes from the release. Coach Gadowsky, you're up:
"Keith Fisher and Matt Lindsay both have excellent work ethic and have proven to be very successful recruiters of the top hockey student-athletes in North America. The culture at Princeton, which puts heavy emphasis on both strong academics and athletic achievement, is very much in line with the values of Penn State Athletics, so the transition should be an easy one for these two coaches. I think having both of them on our staff will be a great asset to the rebirth of varsity hockey at Penn State."
Now you, Fisher:
"I am very excited to join Coach Gadowsky and his staff at Penn State. It is a great opportunity to be a part of the transition to a Division I hockey program at a great institution like Penn State and the Happy Valley region."
And finally, Lindsay:
"I am very excited to be joining the Penn State community. I am looking forward to getting to work immediately as we begin to lay the foundation for Division I hockey. I know Penn State has a proud history on the ice and I know there is a ton of enthusiasm for the future. I am honored to be a part of it."
Okay, so everyone's excited to be here. I was kind of worried about that.

What's a little less obvious: the role that these guys will play for the upcoming season. Steve Penstone talked to Joe Battista and got this extremely vague quote: "[Fisher and Lindsay] will serve as instructors with the Icers, focusing on skill development."

My take on the coaching situation for this coming season: it's in flux. I may have told a few of you that we're sticking with the current setup, with oversight from Gadowsky. Turns out, that may or may not be the case. If you obsess over things like this, you probably remember when Battista discussed the news of the Big Ten's formation for 2013-2014 back in March:
“It’s a year earlier than we originally thought,” Battista said. “So we are going to have to ratchet everything up. We will definitely have to hire the full staffs earlier than we had initially planned to. At the same time, it also means having more revenue coming in earlier because the arena will be built and ready for play.”

Hiring the staffs sooner will ease the transition from the current ACHA D-I club program to NCAA. Battista said it is necessary to have the staff, including the coaches, work hand-in-hand with the club teams, the ACHA Penn State Icers and Lady Icers, in their final seasons.

“The new coaches will have an opportunity to influence the systems the Icers will play next season to help the transition to the D-I team,” Battista said.
So basically, the original plan was to not even have assistants yet, let alone attempt to figure out their role with the club team. And from that, it seems like we can also infer that the original plan was not to have the NCAA staff directly coaching the Icers, but rather spend a year recruiting, helping out, and dictating systems and personnel to facilitate the transition. But that was before we hired Gadowsky, and with his enthusiasm for what PSU already has in place and his desire to be hands on (his repeated "I get to coach the team" comment). Now? It seems like it's all up in the air. Buckle up, we're in for some possible turbulence with a chance of bruised egos.*

* I've said it before, but I really, really hope we find a role for Josh Hand in the program. If we don't, I'm pretty sure we haven't heard the last of him.

Enough conjecture. Let's figure out what we can about our new assistant coaches.

I'm not going to talk too much about Fisher's and Lindsay's time at Princeton because I feel like we've mined that one in talking about Gadowsky. In the interest of context, Fisher joined the Tigers' staff in year two of Gadowsky's run (2005-2006), while Lindsay started in 2007-2008, the first of Gadowsky's two NCAA tournament seasons. But anyone who pays any attention at all to hockey, or sports for that matter, knows how vital assistants are to a program, so I think it's fair to assign both Fisher and Lindsay a good deal of credit for the recent and unprecedented success at PU.

Keith Fisher

Fisher, from Zim, MN, spent the last five years at Princeton, as I just mentioned. Upon his starting there, the US Hockey Report had this to say:
"[A] very astute hire, and particularly fortuitous... especially given the late date. Fisher [is] hard-working and extremely knowledgeable concerning the player pool. [He is] highly regarded by the college coaching fraternity."
"Extremely knowledgeable concerning the player pool" is a tag you get when you spend five seasons in the USHL, as Mike Hastings' (a current UNO assistant who's often rumored for head coaching jobs) assistant with the Omaha Lancers, in charge . It was here that he crossed paths with future NHLers Keith Ballard, Nick Petrecki, Matt Carle and Paul Stastny, as well as former Michigan State goalie Jeff Lerg. I think a lot of times, people put these types of lists together looking more at star power than the coach's actual involvement with said star power, but when you have people like Lerg calling Fisher "one person that believe[d] in [him] and [was] willing to give [him] a shot" years later, I think it's safe to say that he had an impact.

The Lancers had a ton of team success in addition to producing great individual players, winning the 2001 Clark Cup (playoff championship) as well as the Anderson Cup (regular season championship) in 2002 and 2005.

Prior to Omaha, Fisher was an undergraduate assistant at St. Cloud State from 1998-2000, and helped the Huskies to the 2000 NCAA tournament. He began his career playing at Hibbing (MN) Community College and as a football and baseball coach at Cherry (MN) High School.

Finally, in something of an oddity, he was actually quoted by the Collegian during the aftermath of the Gadowsky hire, in a feature about his once-and-now-present boss.
Tigers’ assistant coach Keith Fisher said Gadowsky made it a joy on a daily basis to go to the rink for the rest of his coaching staff and players. Fisher also felt one of the biggest accomplishments during Gadowsky’s tenure was how he molded young hockey players into respectable men.

“Guy was with the most successful class in Princeton history,” Fisher said. “It’s tough to say goodbye to that. He coached kids that you would eventually want your wife or daughter to marry.”
Matt Lindsay

Speaking of Omaha's USHL entry, Massachusetts native Lindsay is a former Lancer himself, and he also played at Deerfield Academy (for his father Jim Lindsay), and later at Williams College, graduating in 2001.

From there, he has an impressively diverse background for his age, leading up to joining the Princeton's staff in 2007.
  • 2001-2002: Assistant at NCAA Division III Utica College, where he helped get that program off the ground with a respectable-for-a-first-season 10-12-3 mark.
  • 2002-2005: Assistant at NCAA Division III Hobart College. Here, he followed in the footsteps of Pierre McGuire as a Statesmen assistant. Accomplishments include the 2003-2004 ECAC West regular season and tournament titles.
  • 2005-2006: Volunteer assistant at Colorado College. If you want to join the big time, do it for free. I know a thing or two about that. 24-16-2 and an NCAA tournament trip was the result this season, and the team included standouts like Brett Sterling and Marty Sertich.
  • 2006-2007: Assistant at Robert Morris. View From The Booth made another nice pull relevant to this juncture by getting in touch with RMU coach Derek Schooley last night. So let's let him talk about it.
He says in Lindsay's one season with the Colonials, he had a hand in recruiting the senior class that this past season became the all-time winning class in the history of Bobby Mo's program.
Basically, it seems like the guy made quite an impact, despite the short amount of time spent at a lot of these stops. Undoubtedly, both he and Fisher will do the same as Nittany Lion assistants.

No comments:

Post a Comment