The Tampa Bay Lightning have named George Gwozdecky (gwahz-DECK-ee) as assistant coach on Jon Cooper’s staff today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. Gwozdecky most recently served as head coach for the University of Denver Pioneers men’s hockey team.
“I am excited to be joining the Tampa Bay Lightning coaching staff and am really looking forward to working with outstanding coaches like Jon (Cooper), Steve (Thomas) and Rick (Bowness),” Gwozdecky said. “The opportunity to coach in an organization with such highly-respected ownership and excellent front office leadership, as well as a talented mix of veteran and young players in a great community like Tampa Bay is the chance of a lifetime.”
"We are pleased to add George to the coaching staff," Yzerman said. "He brings a wealth of experience to the bench and we feel he will be a valuable addition to the organization."
Gwozdecky, 60, spent 19 seasons at Denver as head coach, posting a 443-267-64 record in 774 games. He led the Pioneers to back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2004 and 2005 and earned National Coach of the Year honors in 1993 and 2005. In addition he was named the WCHA Coach of the Year in 1995, 2002, 2005 and 2010. With Gwozdecky behind the bench, Denver became a perennial Top 10 program that, in addition to two national championships, also won three WCHA regular season and four WCHA playoff titles. They are the only team in NCAA hockey to have recorded at least 20 wins in each of the previous 12 seasons. During his tenure with the Pioneers, Gwozdecky helped the team to 15 20-win seasons, nine with 25 or more and a pair of campaigns with at least 30.
A native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Gwozdecky ranks 11th all-time in NCAA men’s hockey for wins with 593. Prior to joining Denver, Gwozdecky was head coach for the Miami (Ohio) University Red Hawks. He served there for five seasons, winning the school’s first CCHA title and earning its first NCAA tournament bid. While at Miami he won the Spencer Penrose Award as National Coach of the Year as well as a pair of CCHA coach of the year honors. He was added to the Miami University “Cradle of Coaches” Hall of Fame in 2006. Before joining the Red Hawks he served as an assistant for the Michigan State Spartans following a stint as the bench boss at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Gwozdecky was a four-year letterman at the University of Wisconsin and graduated in 1978 with a degree in physical education. The forward was a member of the Badgers’ 1977 National Championship team. Gwozdecky was inducted into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame in 1994.
Married with a daughter, Gwozdecky was the only coach in NCAA hockey history to win a Division I National Championship as a player (Wisconsin, 1977), assistant coach (Michigan State, 1986) and as a head coach (Denver, 2004 and 2005).