By Mark Fischenich
Free Press Staff Writer
Minnesota State University President Richard Davenport said Wednesday a new men’s hockey coach would be selected and signed “in just a few days,” and promised Mavericks fans would be impressed.
“Right now as I speak — and I have to leave in a couple of minutes — we’re entertaining top coaches for our hockey program to put us back into the winning circle where we haven’t been for a while,” Davenport said at a meeting of business leaders and government officials pushing for state funding for upgrades to the Mankato civic center.
“The candidates we have, you’re just going to be blown away by,” Davenport said. “They are just outstanding.”
He indicated the replacement for longtime coach Troy Jutting, fired earlier this month, would be hired more quickly than originally anticipated.
“We’re going to nail down one of them with a contract in just a few days,” Davenport said.
But he said the candidates are concerned about the team’s current practice facilities — All Seasons Arena. The $31 million civic center expansion and upgrade would improve the downtown arena where MSU plays its games, add locker room and office improvements to allow the team to move its practices there, and add an auditorium to handle conventions and other events to free up the arena for more hockey use.
The plan is contingent on the Minnesota Legislature approving $14.5 million of state funding in a bonding bill before the end of the current legislative session. And the coaching candidates have made clear that the success of MSU’s hockey program is contingent on improved facilities, Davenport said before leaving the meeting.
“Guess what the big question was of all those candidates: ‘What about your facilities? Do you really expect me to develop a winning championship-level team with facilities like this that we can’t even practice in — a facility that we can only play in and not practice in?” Davenport said.