United States Hockey League (USHL)

Wisconsin Hires Minnesota State's Mike Hastings As Next Men's Hockey Coach

Wisconsin Hires Minnesota State's Mike Hastings As Next Men's Hockey Coach

Mike Hastings spent 11 seasons at Minnesota State, helping the team reach the Frozen Four twice.

Mar 30, 2023 by Chris Peters
Wisconsin Hires Minnesota State's Mike Hastings As Next Men's Hockey Coach

The University of Wisconsin said it was looking for an established head coach to lead its men's hockey program and they found one. Mike Hastings, who spent the last 11 seasons at the helm of Minnesota State's men's hockey team, has been named the new head coach for the Badgers. He replaces Tony Granato, who was let go upon the conclusion of his seventh season at the helm.

Hastings arrives with well-known pedigree and a history of winning. At Minnesota State, Hastings led the team to eight conference titles, eight NCAA tournament berths, two Frozen Fours, one national championship game, and five conference tournament championships. He has won the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year three times.

He has been one of the most successful college coaches of the last decade, running a record of 299-109-25 over his 11 seasons with the Mavericks. His program set a new NCAA record this season when they won their sixth consecutive conference regular-season championship which included two CCHA titles and four WCHA crowns before the latter conference dissolved.

In addition to his robust college coaching experience, Hastings was one of the most decorated coaches in the history of the USHL. He led the Omaha Lancers to three Clark Cups and left the league as its all-time winningest coach.

Next season will be his 25th as a head coach at the junior or collegiate level. In the prior 24 seasons he has led a team, Hastings has never once had a losing record. He's had a winning percentage below .600 just once.

Hastings also led the U.S. National Junior Team to a silver medal at the 2019 World Junior Championship.

When Wisconsin athletics director Chris McIntosh announced that the school was moving on from Granato, who was a program legend as a player and an especially popular figure, that they hoped to find a coach with a proven track record of success. While the national title has eluded Hastings to this point, he's won just about everything else.

Now that he goes into Wisconsin, he will be able to pull from a different player pool for recruiting. As his track record also shows at Minnesota State, he knows how to develop talent and maximize the potential of players. Going to a program that has a tradition of national titles, Hobey Baker winners and dozens of NHL alumni, it changes the dynamic.

Wisconsin just went through a fifth losing season in the last seven years. With their last national title coming in 2006 and their last Frozen Four berth in 2010, there's no more time for patience. 

This is an aggressive move for a program that has often leaned towards alumni. Hastings was on the radar for other previous openings at major programs. College hockey has not often followed the same blueprint as basketball or football for their hiring processes. 

UW had already made a splashy hire for their football program in nabbing Luke Fickell from Cincinnati. This is a very similar move to that as they land a coach from a mid-major that has outperformed expectations and allowed his team to become not only nationally relevant, but legitimately competitive. This is the kind of hire that can shake up the status quo and get Wisconsin back to where they want to be.