Steve Rohlik Named Ohio State's Men's Hockey Head Coach

By Jason Priestas on April 24, 2013 at 12:07p
Steve Rohlik takes over as the 9th head coach in Ohio State men's ice hockey program history.

Ohio State named Steve Rohlik the ninth head coach in men's ice hockey history Wednesday. Rohlik (pronounced rah-lick) arrived in Columbus with former head coach Mark Osiecki three years ago and served under Osiecki as the associate head coach.

"We are pleased Steve has accepted our head coaching position," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a school release. "He has made positive impressions within the athletics department, in the hockey community and with the men's hockey student-athletes. He has a well thought-out plan for how to lead our hockey program into the future that is in line with the expectations we have for each of our head coaches."

Rohlik, a graduate of Wisconsin, has previous stints with the Badgers, Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota Duluth on his résumé. While a UMD, his squad advanced to two NCAA tournaments, including a Frozen Four appearance in 2004, and won the 2009 WCHA playoff title. During his career, he has recruited and/or coached two Hobey Baker Award (think hockey's Heisman) winners, 12 All-Americans and 18 players wo have gone on to play in the NHL.

"I am honored and humbled by this opportunity to become the next coach at Ohio State," Rohlik said. "I want to thank Gene Smith, Chris Schneider and the administration for giving me this chance. I look forward to leading this program into the Big Ten."


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740's picture

anticlimactic? were you expecting herb brooks....?

UrbzRenewal's picture

It was expected that they would go out and hire someone, not promote from within. Thus anticlimactic. 

William's picture

I don't know, maybe a guy that's won national championships, like George Gwozdecky? One could argue that Steve Rohlik is an up and comer, and his hiring will hopefully prevent any decommitments, but this hiring just doesn't push the meter. We fire Mark Osiecki to hire his assistant? I'd have to give Gene Smith an F for this job search. 

BUCK-I-FAN's picture

actually Herb Brooks has passed on, I'm not 100% on this hire. he may have a bright future but it will set us back a year or so until he proves himself before any recruits take notice. IMO

KeithMC33's picture

I wonder how this whole situation has/will affect recruiting. With the creation of the B1G hockey league i think it will really bring some excitement to a sport that may not garner the attention it deserves. Hopefully we will see some increased attention to the sport next season.

Deshaun's picture

So I told a friend of mine who has been a Wisconsin hockey season ticket holder for years about OSU's hire. His response was, "Oh, good hire. He's good. We were hoping to have him coach Wisconsin down the road." I then asked him if he'd rather have Gwozdecky or Rohlik. "Oh, Gwoz, hands down. Rohlik knows the system and he'd be on the short list of coaches you want running your program, but the thing about Gwoz is he is a great coach and a great recruiter." He then went on to tell me how buckys5thquarter had Gwozdecky to OSU as a lock. The way he describes it, this would be similar to having Urban Meyer (2 NCAA championships) available a year ago, but giving Paul Chryst (the up and comer with potential) a shot instead. He may be good, but this feels uninspired, to say the least.

NC_Buckeye's picture

I agree with this.
But as I said in my forum post, the upside is that Exter will probably be retained. I feel about Exter the way your friend feels about Rohlik (ie wanting Joe to HC Ohio State sometime down the road).
Who knows maybe Osiecki was holding Rohlik back a bit. I'm willing to wait it out. And unless Gene Smith is willing to pony up a new arena, he better be willing to wait as well. Cause we're not going to be able to lure a "George Gwozdecky" or a "Tim Whitehead" here while playing to cricket noises in the Value City Arena. (IOW, IT'S TOO BIG!)

Deshaun's picture

I hope Rohlik turns out to be a gifted recruiter, brilliant tactician, and the type of showman required to energize a Buckeye fanbase who loves to support a winner but currently has little vested interest in collegiate hockey. My concern is, there was a proven commodity available who (by most accounts) encapsulates those three things. He is also a proven winner with an entertaining, attacking style more prone to attract a crowd.

That leads to the second point: the often cavernous (for hockey games) Value City Arena. A quick look at the past 6 seasons shows average attendance a shade above 4,000/game. There are 2 outliers in the data (3,096 in 2010 and 5,178 in 2012). The first coincides with John Markell's last season at the helm. The second was the season we started hot and rose to #2 in the rankings. While the Schott is obviously too large an arena to generate a good atmosphere for a mediocre Ohio State vs Lake Superior State game, I submit it could be an acceptable home venue given the right circumstances.

Consider, with a middling record hovering around .500 all season, Ohio State drew 6,772 and 9,278 in a 2 game series with TTUN. They also averaged 6,173 in a 2-game set against Notre Dame. In 2012, OSU hosted #13 TTUN in front of 9,828 on a Friday (typically a harder day to draw). Even after the losses started to mount up in 2012, OSU drew over 6,000 for a game against Michigan St in February. It doesn't take a focus group to know games against marquee opponents increase fan interest and, therefore, attendance. Next year, we begin play in the Big Ten hockey conference in which we will host Wisconsin, Minnesota, TTUN, Michigan St, and Penn St every year.

If Ohio State has NHL talent playing an exciting brand of hockey (2 things the right coach could make happen) against brand-name schools on a regular basis, it should be reasonable to expect average attendance to double with 12,000+ possible when a #2 ranked Buckeye squad takes on a top-5 ranked TTUN team.

George Gwozdecky should have been interested in this. He has stated his desire to continue coaching. At 59, it's unlikely he would desire a season off before returning to the bench. What better options does he have? UConn and Maine? The only explanation I've heard which makes any sense (though I vehemently disagree) is that Gwozdecky's age may have scared some suitors off.

NC_Buckeye's picture

Don't forget that both the men and women use the old Ice Rink as their practice ice. That's a hard sell to recruits let alone a championship caliber coach like Gwozdecky. When I talk about Ohio State getting a new hockey facility, I think we should be looking at a place like the Pergula Arena. It includes two ice sheets in addition to the arena ice. Those are the type of facilities that are needed to promote men and women's ice hockey. To high-profile coaches that demonstrates a dedication to the program and gives them a tool for success. 

Michael Citro's picture

Wanted Gwoz. Also, national championships.

Jason Priestas's picture

Heard from someone close to the program and this hire is sounding better. Positives include stability within the program, recruiting and a style of play that is well-known to the current players.

It sounds like Ohio State did reach out to George Gwozdecky, but did not get very far.

William's picture

Rohlik was the only person brought in for an interview according to Schneider. I'm sorry but if Smith didn't at least have Gwozdecky come in for an interview that means that Smith failed entirely at promoting the capabilities of OSU Hockey, or that he doesn't give a shit about OSU Hockey, both of which are bad things. 

NC_Buckeye's picture

Smith failed entirely at promoting the capabilities of OSU Hockey, or that he doesn't give a shit about OSU Hockey, both of which are bad things.


Jason Priestas's picture

From what I understand – and take it for what it's worth – Gwoz had reservations about the termination of Osiecki and was unable to receive what he needed to be comfortable moving forward.

Deshaun's picture

This is the exact aspect that piques my curiosity about the hiring. I'm a firm believer that during negotiations, people viewing from the outside (or people who just don't know how to negotiate) focus far to much on the bottom line dollar value. There are always non-salary factors to consider such as schools for kids, additional duties or responsibilities, travel during important seasons, etc.

"Unable to receive what he needed to be comfortable moving forward"? What could he have needed that UConn, Maine, or another suitor could provide? Would he really rather take a year off at this stage in his career in hopes a better option would come along next year?

Was it really the issue of splitting practice ice time at the OSU Ice Rink with the women's team? French Field House, by comparison, is still used by numerous teams as an indoor practice facility. Gwozdecky was reportedly making $221,000/year, so it's hard to believe salary demands were an issue. Was he not allowed to bring his 2 trusted assistants from Denver? Was he concerned about a few games being moved to Mondays to accommodate the BTN schedule? (Please note, I have absolutely NO inside information here. These are just a couple sample roadblocks I could think of.)

I often defend the decisions made by the Ohio State Athletic Department, but what the heck happened here? Stability within the program and a style of play familiar to current players are short-term concerns. Luke Fickell provided stability and a familiar style of play. Then Urban Meyer became available. It's fine to hire an up-and-comer when a proven winner is available, but it's a big risk and you better be right.