Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Pops" is back

U of M press release:

Potulny Returns to Gophers as Volunteer Assistant‏

Having captained two Minnesota teams to national championships, Grant Potulny will return to the Gopher men’s hockey team this fall as a volunteer assistant coach.

Potulny has been playing professionally since his career with the Gophers that spanned from 2000-04. He was an assistant captain as a sophomore for Minnesota’s 2002 national championship team and then captained the team the following two years, including the Gophers’ 2003 national title squad.

“Grant was one of the best captains I’ve ever had,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia, who recently completed his 22nd year as a collegiate head coach. “Grant is going to be a great addition to our staff. He’s going to be in a position to be with us at every practice and his insights will be very positive for our program.”

Potulny recently retired from pro hockey after battling injuries throughout his career. He was injured most of this past season, which he spent with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate in Norfolk (Va.).

“This is an unbelievable opportunity and I’m so grateful to be back with the Gopher hockey program,” Potulny said. “It’s an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up and it’s a great chance to learn from three of the best coaches in college hockey.”

Potulny will join Gophers’ full-time assistants John Hill and Mike Hastings on Lucia’s staff. Potulny plans to pursue a career in coaching and believes the experience at Minnesota will be a perfect first step.

“A goal of mine is to be in coaching and what a better way to learn,” Potulny said. “A lot of this position is going to be bouncing things off players and working that through the coaching staff. You’re a coach, but you’re also someone who’s been in their shoes. I’m also excited because I’ve already built relationships with several of the current players through working out with them during the summers, so it should be a smooth transition.”

Potulny played in 146 games for the Gophers, totaling 68 goals and 48 assists for 116 points. He is best-known for scoring the overtime game-winning goal in Minnesota’s 4-3 win over Maine in the 2002 national championship game at the Xcel Energy Center.

Potulny competed three full seasons with the Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate in Binghamton (N.Y.) from 2004-07 before spending one season each with the Washington Capitals’ affiliate in Hershey (Pa.) and the Edmonton Oilers’ affiliate in Springfield (Mass.).