Rumored all weekend, the move was made official late Sunday night when the University of Minnesota released a statement saying simply that Hill would not return for the 2011-12 season. There were those at last weekend's NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul who suggested that recent contract extension discussions between Lucia and Gopher A.D. Joel Maturi may have hinged upon an changes to Lucia's staff.
The facts are that other than the four years (2001-2005) in which he served as head coach of Alaska-Anchorage, Hill has been a member of the Gopher staff for eight of Lucia's 12 seasons at Minnesota. Unfortunately for Hill that four-year span also happens to include Minnesota's only Frozen Four appearances in the Lucia era. Hill returned to the Gophers for the 2005-06 season; a season in which Minnesota entered the NCAA tournament as the #1 seed but lost in the first round to . . . . never mind, it's not important.
Since then the Gophers have played a frustratingly inconsistent and dispassionate brand of hockey especially considering the talent at Lucia's disposal. Minnesota badly needs an infusion of energy, heart, and guts to restore its mojo and regain its swagger. Guentzel is a coach who is capable of nurturing those attributes and aiding in steering the Gophers back toward the path to prominence.
I read a suggestion today that one thing at which Hill excelled was the between-periods interview on Fox Sports North and I agree he appeared comfortable in front of the camera. Considering the painfully embarrassing commentator du jour FSN forced viewers to endure last season John Hill might just be the right guy for that full-time gig.