Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stroemel Reassigned, Out as Associate Coach

Stroemel (left) is moving to a third job in the last three years.

Mo Stroemel, the man who quite possibly has filled as many roles as anyone else in the history of Penn State hockey, will add yet another to the list: director of hockey operations and video coach for the women's program. He has been removed from his previous role of associate coach.

Stroemel joined former Boston University star Gina Kearns on Josh Brandwene's Lady Icers staff in 2011-2012, after serving as head coach of the program from 2007-2011. He interviewed to be the first head coach of the NCAA Division I women's program and lost out to Brandwene but was retained on staff.

Following those events last June, Stroemel indicated to The Daily Collegian's Christine Newby that he was grateful to stay involved with the program in any capacity, an outlook that hopefully has not changed.
“I think the university is behind me, and they are going to find a role for me at this point. I appreciate that. I think they’re willing to recognize the role that I had in getting us to where we’re at, at this point.

“I think it’s an honor and a privilege to be allowed to continue on with the program in some manner.”
Prior to his tenure as head coach of the Lady Icers, he was an Icers assistant under both Joe Battista and Scott Balboni from 2004-2007 and also spent ten years (1994-2004) as an assistant and head coach with the ACHA Division 2 Ice Lions (for more detail on Stroemel's resume, check out Head Coach Candidate: Mo Stroemel, a post that examined his worthiness of the position that eventually went to Brandwene).

Here's the job posting for Stroemel's replacement:

Click to enlarge.

The remainder of the post is pure speculation, just to be unambiguous about things.

The emphasis on goaltending requested by the posting, as well as Stroemel's new title, may indicate some shifting of responsibilities elsewhere in PSU hockey as well. Director of Hockey Operations Bill Downey, for example, is no longer listed on the women's roster and, while he probably retains oversight over both programs, he may begin spending more of his time on the men's program. Additionally, Josh Hand has been a goaltending consultant for both men's and women's programs, but his duties as head coach of the Ice Lions significantly limit his availability in that capacity.

One also has to wonder about the behind-the-scenes machinations that led to this move occurring now. It's curious that administration would make a point of building a staff to lead the program through a final ACHA season and get a running start into NCAA competition, only to make a significant change after year one. Was Stroemel forced on Brandwene and the two just couldn't make the previous arrangement work? Considering the relatively small number of pre-2011 Lady Icers expected to make the NCAA roster (my estimate: 2-3), was Stroemel only kept as top lieutenant for continuity with those he had coached previously, becoming expendable once they graduated?

Whatever the case, it's an unfortunate turn of events for a guy who has served PSU hockey quite capably for a lot of years, and who sacrificed diverse non-hockey interests (his position in the School of Theatre as one example) to fully commit to the women's NCAA program.


  1. I didn't realize he'd quit his theater job.

    It makes sense for both teams to have their own goalie coach, their own video and operations person, and for Josh Hand to just focus on the club team. So while it's a bummer for Mo, perhaps, it's good to see the women's team getting a complete staff of their own and not having to share with the men.

    It just sounds like all of the job sharing wasn't ideal or at least JB wasn't happy with it

  2. I think a lot of those sharing arrangements are based on the "break even" mandate (you're not going to make me say "synergy"...oh crap, I just did), but yeah, the silver lining is that the women's program looks to be adding dedicated people instead of taking 10% of someone's time who has other things to do. The reality is that these are two separate programs. The idea is yeah, you want to be supportive of each other (Duluth would be one example of a school where the men's and women's programs are competitive with each other) and share resources when appropriate. But it's not always appropriate. Video coach might be the most thankless job in sports - I really can't imagine one guy doing that well for two teams, for example.

    Someone pointed out to me that Stroemel might end up with more ice time with the other coaches recruiting, leaving him to run practices, much as Downey did with the men this past year.

  3. No other sport at PSU shares coaches between the genders, as far as I know, except track, swimming, and fencing, but in those cases, the teams are more or less combined anyway and train together.

  4. Just read that Mr. Pegula upped his commitment to $102 million. Perhaps that is helping to fund more coaches?

  5. The self-sufficiency thing really explains a lot. I always go to Wisconsin. Far and away the best women's program in the country. Highly successful men's program too. Huge arena by college hockey standards. But they lose money across the two programs.

    PSU has a huge leg up with most of the scholarships already endowed from day one of the NCAA era. But if you look at things like the Brandwene hire (which surprised a lot of people), entering the geographically compact CHA (basically a mid-major conference) as opposed to something like Hockey East and some of the things we're talking about sort of all makes sense. Obviously, it seems like they've re-evaluated at least a piece of that. Or this was the plan all along, who knows.