Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chad Johnson steps down as Lincoln's head coach

Big news today out of Lincoln as head coach Chad Johnson has resigned.

Click here to read the official press release from the Stars.  I will quote the entire release below.

Before I post the release below, I just want to wish Chad all the best.  I hope he can get his health issues figured out soon.  I had the chance to interact with Chad in person a few times over the years, and he was always very, very nice to me.  He was always willing to stop and chat.

Wishing him all the best going forward.  Here's the press release:

The Lincoln Stars announced today that Jimmy McGroarty has been named Head Coach and General Manager of the team, replacing Chad Johnson, who has resigned for personal and health reasons. 

Johnson compiled a record of 116-71-12 during his three seasons with the Stars, including a USHL Western Conference regular season championship in 2011-12.

“Chad has indicated to us that he’d like to return to Fargo so that he can be closer to his family, and address some health issues before they become more serious,” said Stars’ President Jim Pflug.  “Chad came in under difficult circumstances, and along with Jimmy McGroarty, helped restore the winning attitude that our organization is known for.  He’s a great coach and friend, and we appreciate the sacrifices he’s made on our behalf.  We’re sorry to see him leave the Stars organization, but support his decision 100%.”

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to lead the Stars over the past three seasons,” said Johnson.  “It was truly an honor for me to do something I love in front of the best fans in the league, and I really appreciate the support they’ve shown me.  I’ll especially miss the interaction with the players, and wish them (and the Stars organization) nothing but the best.”

McGroarty led the Stars for three seasons from 2007-2010 with an 84-75-21 record and two USHL Playoff semi-final appearances. 

“In Jimmy, we have a proven coach with 10 years of experience in the USHL.  He’s been extremely loyal throughout his career with us, and he’s ready to lead this team.  The players respect him, I know they’ll play hard for him, and he’ll give us everything he has to compete for a Clark Cup Championship,” said Pflug. 

“I strongly believe that life offers you second chances, and I’m thankful to the Stars for this opportunity,” said McGroarty.  “In my years of coaching in the USHL, I’ve had the privilege to work with three of the top coaches in the league’s history (Mike Hastings, Steve Johnson, and Chad).  Each had their own style, and I’ve learned a lot from all of them, but the one thing that I’ll take from Chad is his ability to maintain a calm confidence on the bench while defending his players in every situation.  I’m a passionate and emotional coach that hates to lose, and I plan to make the most of this second chance.”

McGroarty expects to name an assistant coach within the next few days. 

This is obviously a big loss for the Stars.  Chad has been a part of the program for a good amount of time, going back to his days as an assistant under Steve Johnson in the late 19990's, all the up to his most recent stint as head coach.

I've always felt that Chad provided a calming influence behind the bench.  It's no secret that Jimmy McGroarty is more of an emotional coach, so I thought Chad was a good "yin" to Jimmy's "yang," if that makes sense.

It's no secret that Chad's family, including his young son, lived in North Dakota, so Chad spent a lot time time commuting back and forth.  I can certainly understand why he would want to be closer to home to be able to watch his son grow up.  I'm sure it was very hard for him the past few years to be away for so long.

It will be interesting to see who Jimmy McGroarty hires as his new assistant, especially on such short notice.  The timing of this resignation wasn't the greatest, with the USHL regular season starting this weekend.  Most hockey clubs are just about in full swing, so I don't know how difficult it will be to pry another coach from a team.  Luckily for the Stars, their regular season doesn't begin until next Friday, September 27th, so the new assistant coach will have a little bit of time to get adjusted before the games start counting for real next weekend.

Although his last season as Lincoln's head coach did not end well, I think most Stars fans can agree that the players would skate through a brick wall for Jimmy McGroarty.  He's very much a player's coach, from what I understand.  There's no doubt that Jimmy is a very good recruiter and a GM, having brought in players like Jimmy Hayes, David Reekie, Lyon Messier, Kirt Hill, Ryan Kretzer, and Chris Forfar while he was head coach of the Stars.  I've heard that his connections in the hockey world are vast (especially in Canada), and his mind is a steel trap in terms of hockey players (past and present) in other leagues.  He has also been described to me as a very hard worker.

With an almost a brand new roster, Jimmy and the new assistant coach will certainly have their work cut out for them.  It's time for the rest of us to get on board, and support this team with all that we have.

Thoughts on this news?  I'd love to hear from all of you out there.  Comments are wide open, but please be respective of the rules when commenting.  Thanks.

Go Stars.


Anonymous said...

All the best to Chad. He did a good job with the players. Also, Jimmy will do well with this group of kids.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see Chad go. I hope he gets his health issues figured out and can return to hockey at some point in his life.

Anonymous said...

What happened to that goalie coach that was helping out last year>

Yeti said...

Anon @ 9:55am,

As far as I know, Chris Holt is with the team but he is not a permanent fixture behind the bench. I believe he is sometimes there at practice to help out the goaltenders.

He normally plays in the KHL over in Russia, but he is back in Nebraska rehabbing an injury. I'm not sure when he'll go back to Russia.

I know when he was over in Russia last year, he was watching game tape of Bitzer and Teichroeb, then then contacting them to provide coaching.

lincolnfan said...

best of luck to Chad. hoping for him to get these health issues resolved. i am happy to have Jimmy back as a head coach, though i must say i am surprised at their decision. looking forward to this season.

i assume the goalie coach, Chris Holt, is still here as he is listed on the Coaches page on the Stars website. i think Jimmy is planning to hire one more assistant.. it will be interesting to see who he can get.

Jason said...

Sad to see Chad go, but making Hockey take a back seat shows that he had his priorities in order. Best wishes to him and his family.

As a Montreal fan (yeah, I know...why?) we've seen it's possible for a guy getting a second time around as coach and have success.

Lincoln will be in good hands and I'm ready for the darn season to get started already! Go Stars!