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Mavericks assistant coach turns down head coaching post, search to continue

Minnesota State says it immediately turned to longtime assistant Todd Knott with 'attractive' offer

Todd Knott MSU hockey.jpg
Todd Knott

MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota State says Todd Knott turned down the job to be its next head men's hockey coach, the school said Sunday.

The longtime assistant was presented "an attractive offer" after head coach Mike Hastings left last week to take the head coaching position at Wisconsin.

"We have had a contingency plan in place for the last 14 months in the event coach Hastings left our program,” said Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman. "We swiftly put that plan in motion last Thursday afternoon as soon as coach Hastings informed us he had accepted an offer at the University of Wisconsin. Todd met separately with President [Edward] Inch and myself on Friday and we shared our confidence in him as our next head coach and described our willingness to support and invest in him.”

Following the dismissal of Wisconsin coach Tony Granato and his staff last month, Knott's decision leaves open the possibility he could join Hastings' staff with the Badgers.

The three-time Spencer Penrose Award winner, handed to the national college coach of the year, Hastings’ teams racked up an impressive 11-year run.

Buisman said he met with Knott Saturday afternoon, and in an emotional meeting, he disclosed how difficult the decision was for him. Buisman said Knott, out of respect for the Mavericks' program, made the decision quickly so Minnesota State can further its search without delay.


"I know that some will question the process and others will question Todd’s decision. I am comfortable knowing that we presented an attractive offer," Buisman said. "Beyond that, I have all the respect in the world for Todd. At a time where the financial component is the primary driver, Todd had the courage and integrity to set that aside and made a decision about what was best for him professionally and for his family. I admire that integrity and hope others will understand that."

Knott, who was elevated to Hastings’ associate head coach in 2018, helped the Mavericks to national prominence. Having a reputation as an effective recruiter, Knott helped Minnesota State to the best national record over a 10-year span and to two of the last three Frozen Fours. Knott played an instrumental role in landing goaltender Dryden McKay, last season’s Hobey Baker winner, in Mankato.

"This has been an extremely difficult decision that I put a tremendous amount of thought into,” said Knott. “President Inch and (Director of Athletics) Kevin Buisman shared their vision for the future of Maverick Hockey and it was exciting to see. In the end, I had to do what I felt was best for myself and my family. We love this community, the fans, and Maverick hockey, and as difficult as it is to say goodbye, it’s time to start another chapter."

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In February, Knott was named the American Hockey Coaches Association Terry Flanagan Award recipient. That honor recognizes an assistant coach’s career body of work.

During Knott’s time at Minnesota State, 13 players have debuted in the NHL prior to this past season. Already in the week following the loss at the Fargo Regional, forwards Cade Borchardt, Ondrej Pavel and Ryan Sandelin, along with defensemen Jake Livingstone, Akito Hirose and Andy Carroll have signed professional contracts.

Fargo-Moorhead Jets assistant coach Todd Knott does some last-minute skate sharpening before the Jets game against the Bozeman Icedogs on Jan. 9, 2004 in Bozeman, Mont.
Forum file photo

The Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, native played in the USHL with Lincoln in 1998-99 before a 14-goal career with Bemidji State. He later was an assistant and head coach with the Fargo-Moorhead Jets in the NAHL before joining two USHL clubs.

From 2005-2008 he was an associate head coach for the Des Moines Buccaneers, winning a Clark Cup title in 2005-06. He was the head coach and general manager of the Sioux City Musketeers before joining the Mavericks staff as an assistant coach under head coach Troy Jutting in 2009.

This story has been updated to correct the nickname of Sioux City.

Rob Beer is the digital content manager for Forum Communications. A journalist with Forum Communications since 1991, he is the editor of The Rink Live and helps cover the CCHA. He also assists with other content produced by Forum Communications.
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