DENVER (CBS4) – For nearly two decades, to many people, George Gwozdecky was University of Denver hockey. In 19 seasons his teams won 443 games and lost just 267. In his last 12 seasons the Pioneers won at least 20 games each year.
In 2004 and 2005, the DU Pioneers were national champions. But on April 1 this season after the Pioneers had been eliminated from the NCAA tournament in the first round for the fifth time in six years, Gwozdecky showed up for a meeting, he thought, to discuss a new contract. Instead the meeting was brief and to the point — Gwodecky’s DU days were done. He still has no idea why he was let go.
“When I was informed yesterday morning of the decision to release me from my contract, I’ve got to admit that I was stunned and shocked,” Gwodecky said at a news conference the day after he was fired.
Gwozdecky said he’s still stunned over getting let go.
“I am absolutely stunned and probably disappointed at the same time. Obviously we wanted to be able to finish our career here and felt that we did a very good job this year as far as coaching this team,” he said.
But perhaps Gwodecky shouldn’t have been caught completely off guard. After discussing a new deal several years ago there were no negotiations for three full years. But he insists that didn’t raise any red flags.
“Not at all, because of some of the things that had been indicated to me that, ‘We want to keep you here, we love you,’ “ he said.
Gwozdecky was a leading candidate for the head coaching job at the University of Connecticut but he didn’t get it. He’s reportedly a candidate for the vacancy at the University of Maine.
“We are in the discussion stage right now with a number of different people and a number of different organizations. It’s got to be the right fit for them, and obviously it’s got to be the right fit for myself and my family,” he said. “I’m examining and reviewing and making calls.”
He said right now anything is a possibility and he’s not closing any doors.
“That includes the professional ranks,” he said.
Gwozdecky has received some strong support in the local media to coach the Colorado Avalanche. He’s not campaigning for the job and he hasn’t heard from Joe Sakic, but he’d love a chance to sit down and see if there’s a match. He said he wouldn’t have a problem making the transition from college to the pros.
“Coaching is teaching, coaching is motivating. This game, I think, unlike basketball, and especially unlike football … the Xs and Os part of this game aren’t as a big of a factor as the teaching and the motivating, the relating to people, the developing relationships with people. That’s what it’s all about. I’ve had success doing that and I enjoy doing that. I think I’m pretty good at it.
“So do I think I could coach at any level? Yeah, I think I can.”