Monday, May 5, 2014

Chris Hartsburg named head coach of Lincoln Stars

Photo courtesy of Ali Pearson
Here's the news we've been waiting patiently for.

Stars GM/President of Hockey Operations Jon Hull today announced that Chris Hartsburg has been named head coach of the Lincoln Stars.  Click here to read the official press release.

Hartsburg becomes the fourth head coach of the Lincoln Stars in their 18-year history in the USHL.

Hartsburg is 33 years old, and was born in Edina, MN.  Chris played one year of juniors with the Omaha Lancers (gasp!) in 1997-98 before moving on to play college hockey for Colorado College from 1998-2002.  Hartsburg was selected in the 7th round of the 1999 NHL draft by the New Jersey Devils.

After college, Hartsburg played 6 years of minor pro hockey (two in the AHL, four in the CHL) before hanging up the skates at the end of the 2007-08 season due to multiple injuries.

Once his playing days were cut short, Hartsburg immediately entered into the coaching ranks, first with the CHL team (Colorado Eagles) he last played hockey for.  After the one year as an assistant coach with the Colorado Eagles, Hartsburg was hired as an assistant with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL.

After two seasons with the Oil Kings, Hartsburg moved on to the Everett Silvertips (WHL), also as an assistant coach.  While with the Silvertips, Hartburg coached along side current Sioux City Musketeers head coach Jay Varady, who was also an assistant with Everett.

His most recent position was with the Erie Otters (OHL) as an assistant coach.  In his one year with the Erie Otters, the team improved from its 2012-13 record of 19-40-4, to a record of 52-14-2 in 2013-14.  According to this article, Hartsburg focused on defense and the penalty kill as an assistant coach with the Otters.

Click here to watch a video interview of Chris Hartsburg that was taken at the beginning of the 2013-14 season when he was with the Erie Otters.

Chris' father Craig Hartsburg is a former NHL defenseman and currently is an assistant coach with the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets.

The contract Chris Hartsburg signed with the Lincoln Stars is for 3 years, per GM Jon Hull.  On a side note, Jon Hull also told me that assistant coach Mick Berge will be retained, which is great news.  I thought the players really responded well to Berge at the end of last season.

I've asked around to people I trust in the hockey world, and I've received nothing but positive feedback regarding Chris Hartsburg.  He's a young guy, but he has a lot of experience both as a player and a coach that should help.  I can tell you that he is very well respected by those I talked to in the hockey community.

I like that he has experience at many levels within hockey.  He has playing experience at the USHL, college, and professional level, along with coaching experience at the professional and major junior level.  I'm willing to bet Hartsburg has developed a lengthy list of contacts he will use as head coach of the Lincoln Stars to benefit the team.  He's a young guy who should be very hungry to make a name for himself in the USHL.

I don't know much about the style of hockey that Hartsburg likes to play, but I can only assume he shares the same thoughts of GM Jon Hull, otherwise he wouldn't have been hired.

Thoughts on this new hire, Stars Nation?  Please leave a comment below.


Mike Burda said...

I am excited about this coach. Just from his pedigree, Hartsburg seems like a coach that will reinvigorate the team and by extension the fans.

Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

On paper, it seems like he's a good hire, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

I was hoping that Grant Potulny would get the job. I have no idea if there was any interest on either side, but the fact that he's from the Stars family, has five years coaching experience at the D-1 level, and has natural leadership skills (served as a captain as a sophomore in college-very rare) made me think he'd be a good hire. I interviewed him when he played for the Stars, and he just seemed to have that "it" factor.

Like I said, though, I'll keep an open mind about the new guy.

Yeti said...


Fair point about Potulny. However, he has an incredibly nice gig as the assistant at the University of Minnesota. Because he's a public employee, if you know where to look online, you can find out what his annual salary is. It's openly available to the public.

He's making very, very good money. Six figures, good. His family has roots in the Minneapolis area, and he runs multiple hockey camps during the summer in that area.

I understand that he may have to leave Minnesota eventually if he ever wants to be a head coach, but it wasn't going to happen here. Not right now, anyway.

In my opinion, I'm very happy that the Stars looked outside the box, so to speak, when making the head coaching hire. I think in the past, they have been too myopic when choosing a head coach. They went for the familiar name or face.

Now more than ever, I think this organization needed a shot of new blood. New ideas. New culture.

I haven't been this excited about Lincoln Stars hockey in a long, long time. I honestly believe that the people that are in place right now will work their butts off to bring Lincoln back where they deserve to the top of the USHL.