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Official: Lightning hire George Gwozdecky as assistant coach

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Have the Lightning bolstered their coaching staff with the University of Denver's former head coach?

Andrew B. Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

Reports out of Denver are saying that the Lightning have hired former University of Denver coach George Gwozdecky as an assistant coach. From the Denver Post:

But the Lightning will bring in Gwozdecky to work under new head coach Jon Cooper, promoted after three seasons as head coach of Tampa Bay's American Hockey League farm club. Gwozdecky will join Rick Bowness, a veteran assistant who has had several stints as an NHL head coach, on Cooper's staff.

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The Lightning was horrible last season, going 18-26-4 and finishing only one point ahead of the Avalanche. But Tampa Bay is considered to have a stockpile of young talent. The Lightning front office is headed by Steve Yzerman, Detroit's star center and captain during the heyday of the rivalry with the Avalanche - and with Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy, now Colorado's top executive and coach, respectively.

Yeah that makes sense. The Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche used to be rivals so Steve Yzerman hired George Gwozdecky.

Kyle Alexander tweeted out the link to this article from May that should give you a little insight into Gwzdecky.

In any case, we'll keep up with this as we get more info.

UPDATE: from Damian Cristodero:

UPDATE: The Lightning have made it official. From the team's press release:

“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.

With this hiring, it seems that the Lightning's coaching staff is complete. I won't say I expect a quiet few weeks between now and September, though, because that gives Yzerman the best chance to blindside me (again).