By now you’ve probably heard that former University of North Dakota hockey coach Dean Blais has stepped down from his coaching position at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
For UND fans, Blais will be remembered as the guy that brought UND back to national prominence. Since 1997, UND has missed one NCAA tournament. A lot of that has to do with what coach Blais did for the UND hockey program. (This video kind of sums up that re-emergence.)
In my humble opinion, Blais is a Hall of Fame coach that elevated two colleges (UND and UNO) programs and a fledging USHL franchise. Blais also was the head coach of a World Junior Championship that won gold over Canada in 2011.
Here’s Blais’ resume at UND: Two NCAA Frozen Four titles (1997 and 2000). A runner-up finish in 2001. Four WCHA titles (1997-1999, 2001. At UND, Blais compiled a 232-107-30 (.669) winning percentage.
Assuming Blais is done coaching college hockey, his 18-year coaching record is very impressive, he’s ranked 37th all-time 408-248-63 (.611).
Blais spent eight seasons at UNO compiling a 129-116-25 (.524) record. Blais’ Mavericks also made two NCAA appearances. During the 2014-15 season, the Mavericks went to the Frozen Four in Boston, MA.
Last Sunday night, after the series ending loss to WMU Blais said that he was returning for another year.
Right now, yeah,” Blais told the Tony Boone of the World-Herald. “I don’t know how the scoop got around.”
I’ve always respected his approach to dealing with the reporters and the way he relays his message. This answer was classic Blais.
Blais said he didn’t have much more to say on the subject, other than that he’d be willing to take a local columnist up on his offer of a new fishing rod and reel whether he returned to the UNO bench or not.
You can listen to coach Blais’ press conference.
Others Weigh In
Blais left a lasting impression one the players that he coached. Here’s what Zach Parise told Dan Myers of the NHL.com:
“He was one of the big reasons why I wanted to go there. I heard a lot of good things about him as a coach,” Parise said. “He made you work. I think he instilled a lot of work ethic in the players that, I think even to this day, has stuck as almost part of the tradition there, with the style of play and how hard the guys work. I wanted to be a part of that. I really enjoyed playing for him.
“He was hard at the right times, he was joking around, personable. But he demanded work and demanded you play hard. And if you did that, you were on his good side.”
On Monday night, the tweets keep coming.
Who could forget this classic moment against the Maine Black Bears.
And the Mavericks players started weighing in.
It’s obvious that coach Blais touched the lives of many former UNO and UND hockey players.