Penn State Men's Hockey Introductory Press Conference

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April 25, 2011

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Tim Curley, Penn State Director of Athletics: Thank you very much and good afternoon, everyone. I appreciate you all being here on such short notice. It was a pretty crazy weekend for all of us as we identified our new men's ice hockey coach, and we appreciate all of you being here for this very special announcement.

It was approximately eight months ago when we announced the historic gift from Terry and Kim Pegula to help re-establish the men's ice hockey program to varsity status at Penn State.

Men's ice hockey was a varsity sport from 1939 to 1946. The program was re-instated as a club sport in 1971 and has enjoyed national success for many years. I want to thank our current club coach Scott Balboni, who is here with us today, and our entire team, for helping us transition back to varsity status.

Since our announcement in September, much has happened to keep us on track to transition the ice hockey program to begin varsity competition in 2012-13, playing an independent schedule and then in 2013-14 to start competition in the new state of the art Pegula Ice Arena.

Last month, Commissioner (Jim) Delany announced the formation of the Big Ten Conference hockey conference. We are extremely excited to add this great sport to the comprehensive and broad based championship sports offerings provided in the Big Ten.

We look forward to joining the storied programs and the strong traditions of our ice hockey colleagues in the Big Ten as a new era begins in 2013.

We believe the quality of competition, combined with the visibility provided by the Big Ten Network, will make Big Ten hockey the destination spot for the best young players in the game.

In November, the Board of Trustees approved Crawford Architects to design the new arena and Mortenson Construction to build it. I'm pleased to report that the design and construction schedule are on target, and I know all of us will be very proud of the end result.

Today, we are here for another very important announcement: The hiring of our men's ice hockey head coach. I would like all of you to join me in welcoming Guy Gadowsky as our new leader of the Penn State Ice Hockey program.

Guy is joined by his wife, Melissa, and children Mac, Magnus and Mia, seated down in the front. If you could wave and turn around. Show them those nice jerseys. You've got them dressed right.

(Applause) Also joining us today is Melissa's sister, who is a Penn State student, Kelsey McDonald, and we are all thrilled to have you join the Penn State family. Welcome.

I want to thank Joe Battista (Associate AD) and the search committee members and Linda Caldwell, our NCAA faculty rep, for your efforts in identifying Coach Gadowsky as our future leader for this program. It was a wonderful process, and we appreciate everyone's effort in the identification of Guy.

Guy Gadowsky has enjoyed a very impressive coaching career to date. He's helped build programs at Alaska-Fairbanks and Princeton University to top national programs.

He has developed NHL players and won conference championships and has had teams participate in the NCAA Tournament. He's been recognized with both conference and national Coach of the Year honors. He's highly-respected among his peers. And every person we spoke to, spoke about his high integrity and his passion for the game and for the student athletes that are under his leadership.

His players have consistently excelled in the classroom and community as well. We believe he has the total package to reach the goals for our program and will be a fantastic addition to the Penn State community.

We are thrilled to introduce him as our head coach. Please join me in welcoming the new head coach of the Penn State Men's Ice Hockey program, Coach Guy Gadowsky.

COACH GUY GADOWSKY: Thank you very much.

(Applause)

Now we'll have a few comments from Guy.

COACH GADOWSKY: My comment is thank you very much. That's nice to hear. And it's so great to be here. This is exciting. Ever since Joe Battista came by to look at the arena and just get ideas and feelers for what he's doing, and after meeting him for five minutes, I mean, you just want to jump on board and just come here. And I thank him so much for spending the time with me and letting me hear a little bit about the vision he's had, for probably a lot longer than any of us know.

And so it's so exciting for me. I just love the spirit. My sister in law, Kelsey, that's the reason she came here, is because of the school spirit. She said she wanted to go to the school that had the best spirit in the nation, and she chose here.

And I know why. And I wanted to share in that. I wanted a little bit of it. So this is extremely exciting for me, and I want to thank my family, because I'm excited that they get to take part in it, too, and we're leaving a place that was very good to us, but they've been so supportive, and I think they're as excited as I am to join your family.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions from the media.

Q. Coach, it seems in your past previous two stops, obviously you've had experience rebuilding programs. What can you take from those previous experiences into the situation you're coming in now where you're building the program from scratch?

COACH GADOWSKY: Well, I think you take a little bit from every experience you've had. But, I don't look at it actually like we're building from scratch at all.

We have a great tradition here. You look at the success that the club team (Icers) has had, it's been phenomenal...absolutely phenomenal. And I know there's already a great fan base, not only the student body, but community members, that love hockey.

So, I think we're well ahead of the game, that's for sure. By no means are we starting from scratch. I think everywhere you go, you can take parts of it with you that you can use to make the next place successful.

I think probably the biggest thing, one of the reasons this was such a great fit, is that Penn State does things right. They have the top graduation rate, among the top football schools. And you never hear anything bad in the news about Penn State. When you hear about Penn State on ESPNews or the news, it's about great things, it's not about bad things. That's extremely important.

Obviously, it didn't take me long to be here to understand that's something that Coach (Joe) Paterno obviously set the foundation and standards for. And I think the entire athletic department is following along.

That's something that I would very much like to continue. And at Princeton, the place I was at last, we were led by just a great athletic director (Gary Walters), who led through a foundation of values. And I understand I grew to appreciate the values, but I also now grew to understand if you want sustained, long term success, how holding true to those values is very important.

So hopefully not hopefully we will bring that here.

Q. How difficult of a task do you see jumping into the Big Ten after just one year against schools that have very rich hockey traditions?

COACH GADOWSKY: Well, you said difficult. You don't know Joe Battista, do you? You can't use the word "difficult" if you know Joe.

I'm sort of caught in his spell right now. I don't even think that way. I think we're going to play some great programs, obviously, but that's what Penn State expects. So that's what we're going to do.

Q. In the past programs there's been a big focus on academics. Joe (Battista) stressed it. And obviously you stressed it at Princeton. Tells us about your hockey values.

COACH GADOWSKY: Well, thank you. I like that term, "hockey values." I know you used it, Mr. Curley. That sounds pretty good to me.

Academics is obviously it's a huge goal of what we do. There has to be Joe and I talked about this there's going to be a 100 percent graduation rate. But as you mentioned, we're going to have success. We're going to bring in some great athletes. And I'm sure they're going to be asked to sign pro contracts early.

We understand that. But aside from that, we're going to stick to the values and the foundation that Coach Paterno started and the whole athletic department follows through with, and we're going to have perfect graduation rates. That's the goal.

Q. What were your feelings and where were you when you got the call to be the Penn State coach?

COACH GADOWSKY: Well, after being here, I wanted it so badly. You can't be here without getting caught up in the spirit. And you want to be a part of it.

I think that's probably, like my sister in law, probably every other student has felt that. Probably everybody here has felt that. That's the reason why you're here. So it's why I want to be here.

And where I was, it was a fog. I was still caught in the Battista spell. I have no idea. (Laughter).

TIM CURLEY: I can add to that. I can tell you where he was. Because when we called him, he was actually on the ice with his boys, skating, and so we were trying to communicate while he was in-between slapshots.

Q. When was that?

TIM CURLEY: It was over the weekend.

Q. Tim, can you talk about the selection process overall and at what point did you settle on Guy and what sort of stood out for you in terms of choosing him?

TIM CURLEY: I thought it was an excellent process. We had a great search committee that was chaired by Joe (Battista). And we had an opportunity to just get a real good idea of what the pool of candidates were out there and which ones were interested.

And they were able to, through the search committee, to just whittle that list down, and then we were able to reach out and have some people visit campus.

And then what really stood out (about Coach Gadowsky) was just the tremendous integrity. Just the wonderful spirit that he has, the passion that he has for the sport. But, I think more importantly for us, was the passion that he has for the student athletes and doing right by the student athlete. And building a culture that people will want to play for him.

If there was one thing that just kept coming back was just, again, his passion. The players really buy into his system and the culture that he has and the values that he has.

And everyone we spoke to, it just came through and through every single time. It was a great pool of candidates. But at the end he really separated himself that way. And we're just absolutely thrilled to have him onboard.

Q. Guy, what's the process going forward with recruiting?

COACH GADOWSKY: We get to start it real soon. I'm excited about it. I get to coach the team. So they're going to be my first alumni. I'm pumped about it. It's going to be fun. I think I get to meet the whole team shortly after this press conference. So it all starts now.

Q. Recent efforts have been made to reach out into the Canadian province, lure some of those kids down here to the states, going into the major leagues. How difficult do you think that is? Obviously being from Canada, how difficult do you think it will be to get those kids down here?

COACH GADOWSKY: As you know, there's some great student athletes in Canada, great student hockey players in Canada. I think they're just going to love Penn State. Obviously the spirit, but other things.

I think sometimes, where I'm from, in the prairies (Edmonton, Alberta), some of us, we get a little intimidated by big city sidewalks and lights, and I know Kelsey loved it when she came here in comparison to that. I think the Canadian hockey players are going to love it here. They're just going to eat it up.

And they're great students. We've had a lot of success in Princeton with some of our best students coming from Canada. So it's something I absolutely want to explore.

College Hockey, Inc. is doing a great job in educating all of Canadian hockey players on the benefits of college hockey and how exciting it is, and they haven't even seen Penn State yet. So it's going to be a process we certainly look into.

We're going to try to get the best student hockey players from not only Canada and the U.S., but hopefully in Europe as well.

The Penn State brand, the tradition that it has, is, I think, easily sold. And I think there's going to be a lot of great hockey players from all over that are going to get to enjoy it.

Q. What are your plans for this interim year before the first official season?

COACH GADOWSKY: I get to coach the team. I'm excited about it. I want to get to know them. And also I think a lot of the season, not just hockey, but I'm very intrigued at how this machine gets to be how it is. And I want to learn from it. I want to meet a lot of coaches and see how they have been successful and how they generate the how the whole school generates the spirit they do.

I think the first year I get to coach the team. But ,I guess more for myself is learning how you do things so well. Everything you do obviously you do better than great. You don't do anything 99 percent. Nothing you do is 99 percent. And I want to learn about how you accomplish that.

And at the same time I think you do it, but you do it with values. I think, actually, there's a lot of obviously very impressive things about Penn State. But, one of the things that really sort of stuck to me is people can talk values and talk family, but I had the opportunity to meet Coach Jay Paterno.

When I was in his office, we were talking about a lot of things, but part of the spirit is what's very important to me. And I would really love my boys, and when my girl gets a little older, to experience the spirit that we have.

But I remember looking behind Jay Paterno's chair and he had a picture drawn. It was obviously drawn from one of his children. And it was a picture of a football player and it says: "We are Penn State" and I thought that was the coolest thing...that's what I would love to have from my family.

So, I guess the answer is I want to learn how you do things so well but keep a grounded foundation as well.

Q. If we could backtrack to recruiting. You talked a lot about pulling from other places, but what about locally; is there enough interest and enough talent here?

COACH GADOWSKY: Absolutely. If you look at college hockey rosters across the nation, you're going to find people from what we call in hockey the MidAm district. There's great hockey here. You have two very successful NHL franchises (in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia).

You can do a tremendous job in I don't know how many mile radius but you can do a tremendous job here. We want to get diversity. We want to add some Canadians and Europeans. I think it strengthens the team aspect and chemistry. But, you can do a tremendous job here.

Wait until the rink comes (Pegula Ice Arena). You'll get even a lot more local. There's going to be a time when you turn on and watch an NHL hockey game and you're going to say, "I remember when that guy played not only at Penn State but when he played when he was a little nine year old playing down at the rink." It's going to happen.

There's already good talent here, but it's going to get better and better. This facility, I was lucky enough to see the plans, is going to attract not only the best college hockey players but the best hockey players, and we're going to have youth tournaments and it's going to be rocking even at the youth level.

In a matter of time you'll see players play for Penn State that grew up playing their youth hockey right here.

Q. As you know, we have the current State High coach in attendance, Brett Wilson. I've coached locally, still coach locally. I wanted to ask you, how much do you know about the Western PA talent, for instance, Mike Weber plays for Buffalo. And Ohio State recruited heavily from Western PA, and obviously Joe B. will be a big advocate of that. I wanted to get a little bit more your thoughts about what you know about Western PA, and the last question would be, what positions will be with Mac and Magnus?

COACH GADOWSKY: So, the most important thank you. I like to hear that. Most important question first, Magnus is centerman/defenseman, depends on where the toughness has to be. Mac is a goal scorer, plays left side, right side center. That's the most important question.

Other than that, I think there are certainly successful NHL players, R.J. Umberger, he's got to be somewhere close to here and grew up here.

Also, if you look at college hockey rosters, there's PA. And even just closer to the Atlantic District (of USA Hockey) as well. To be honest with you, there's more kids out of the Atlantic District playing college hockey than they were in Saskatchewan and Manitoba or all the Maritime provinces.

So, there are great hockey players here locally. I'm glad you're a youth coach, because I would like to get even a little more intense on developing it right here and a more maybe even a smaller area. I think that would be unbelievable. That would be, I think, when we talk about goals, this is something Joe and I talked about.

One of the checkmarks is going to be when we get the first youth developed hockey player right here in Hockey Valley to come play for Penn State.

Q. Can you talk about sort of embracing the success of Penn State programs across the board. You have a third year wrestling coach here, won the national championship. Your expectations around hockey is, you guys are going to win national championships. Sort of have you embraced that, but you have to be conscious, I guess, about saying, "hey, this is going to take at least a little while?"

COACH GADOWSKY: Sure. I mean, you're breaking you're killing my buzz. (Laughter) The reality of it is, yeah, we're going to face the best programs in the nation, and they've had a bit of a head start on us.

But, they don't have our spirit. So, I think we're going to catch up sooner than people think. Hey, there's going to be some tough times. But you know what? I know we're going to have a lot of fun times during those times.

And when we finally get this thing rolling, I think we're going to look back at those years when we've only been a few years in, and we're getting possibly shellacked by one of the Big Ten schools that have had championships and a lot of success, and they're going to enjoy that time because I think they know that payback's going to be coming.

 

 

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