It’s Time to Honor George Gwozdecky

The DU hockey world is in near perfect alignment. DU, under head coach Jim Montgomery, is poised for another strong season following its first trip to the Frozen Four in over a decade. The athletic department is coming off its 8th Directors Cup in nine years. And former Denver head coach George Gwozdecky is still doing what he loves to do, according to a recent article – mentoring young hockey players at Valor Christian High School.

Gwozdecky still maintains connections with DU. His daughter went to DU and he has been spotted occasionally on campus and he attends off campus hockey related events. He was seen at a Battle on Blake celebration event and was a prominent guest at the Greg ‘Woody’ Woods memorial at the Campus Lounge. Woods played well before the Gwozdecky era but Gwoz has a deep respect for DU’s hockey tradition and community.

The April Fools day firing of Gwozdecky in 2013 is now a distant memory. All the parties to the event have moved forward with great success and head coach Jim Montgomery has become a popular on-campus figure. Oh and he also received a contract extension this summer. LetsGoDU has written extensively about Coach Montgomery and how well he fits at DU.

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Still, it feels like something is missing.

The reason(s) for Gwozdecky’s hasty exit, are only known by the parties involved. However, it’s a well-known fact that with the help and support of Dan Ritchie, Gwozdecky took a struggling program with a proud history and rebuilt it into the national powerhouse it was always meant to be. He took a risk coming to DU but it paid off as he racked up an incredible 443-267-64 record in his 19 years leading the Crimson and Gold. He stood toe to toe with the top programs in the nation and became the most hated college coach in North Dakota. He rattled off 12 straight 20-win seasons (it’s now 15) – the most of any program in college hockey and won back-to-back national championships.

The unforgettable image of Gwozdecky’s last day leading this program should not be how Pioneers remember one of the greatest coaches college hockey has seen.

A bronze statue of Murray Armstrong, DU’s legendary hockey coach who led the Pioneers to 5 national titles, stands near the wall of fame on the concourse outside Magness Arena. The time has come for Gwozdecky to join him. Gwoz is a Pioneer icon that deserves to be permanently recognized as part of DU’s proud tradition. While DU continues to fill the rafters with championship banners in skiing, lacrosse, and hockey – there is still room to give Gwozdecky and his family a worthy thank-you.

Plenty of time has passed. The wounds have healed. The time has come to formally recognize one of the greatest Pioneer coaches of all time. And maybe schedule it for the return of North Dakota to Denver in 2017?

8 thoughts on “It’s Time to Honor George Gwozdecky”

  1. I would love to see this happen. While us die-hards have embraced both George and Monty, I am not sure the rest of the DU hockey community has yet fully recovered from that firing..,DU Hockey is doing everything it can on the ice to win back fans, but it’s a long road. DU has renewed only about 80% of last years season ticket holders, which seems absurd to me when the team went to the Frozen Four last year. DU should be selling out by now, yet the attendance average was just above 5,000, – about 1,000 short of capacity and lots of those season ticket holders don’t show up at games and tickets get eaten. Also seven DU home games this season will conflict with the Avalanche home games, making things even harder on the Pios to attract more of the core hockey audience in Denver.

    Additionally, we have a rich tradition at DU of great athletes and coaches, but sadly, commemorating and celebrating their achievements is not yet something our school does very well. Our greatest hockey coach ever, Murray Armstrong, is commemorated with a life-sized statue that hides in the Magness concourse behind a honey-roasted nut cart on game nights. We still have no retired or commemorated numbers hanging from the rafters. The photos of the 70+ NHL players DU has produced are in the resticted locker toom area instead of being on the concourse for fans to see. Our All Americans and Hall of Famers are commemorated on small plaques that lack visibility and stature, And our biggest shrine at Magness celebrates a golf donor.

    We need to do better on this…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreed Puck. This would be a great start. Because this is really about the fans – and nothing else. It would create quite a lasting memory for many of us and the Gwozdecky family. And 443 Pioneer wins – astounding.

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  3. I guarantee I have waaaay more knowledge than you 5:27 — and it just won’t be happening. Not disclosing, publicly, the facts around his deserved dismissal is the closest to an “honor” he will receive anytime soon.

    This blog is stirring a pot that should just be left alone.

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  4. Thirteen years for Murray Armstrong’s statue.
    You are at the very least 10 years to early to make this suggestion.

    A statue of Keith Magnuson I’d vote for that.

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  5. Swami–spot on. The juxtaposition of the grand showcase for the golf guy, with the piss poor tributes to DU’a athletic tradition, is pretty ridiculous. Gwoz will be honored, I just don’t trust DU to handle it.

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  6. Anon 1:38, the ultimate insider, would like for the discussion of the honoring of DU’s 2nd most legendary coach to stop. Praying that we don’t offend his sensibilties. Or maybe he could stop commenting here, and start his own blog…one that contains all the definitive answers that he generates in his basement.

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