After a brief trip to Minnesota last week, in which men's hockey head coach Tim Bothwell considered defecting, the coach returned to Calgary with a smile and great expectations for his future, here in Calgary and beyond.
Bothwell interviewed for a coaching position with the University of Minnesota Duluth, but has returned to the University of Calgary for at least one more season. UMD's decision, according to Bothwell, came down to choosing someone who would be a really good coach and a good recruiter (as they saw Bothwell), or a good coach and a really good recruiter. UMD elected to go with the latter, choosing an assistant coach with experience in the NCAA and the necessary contacts for gaining future players. With one of the best programs in the NCAA, Minnesota Duluth would be an exceptional job for any coach.
"I wasn't sure if I wanted to go, but in the end I decided that it was too good an opportunity to pass up," commented Bothwell.
Previous U of C athletic director Dr. Bob Corran, who moved to Minnesota three years ago, attracted Bothwell to the position. The two have spoken occasionally in the past several years.
"This year I talked to [Corran] four or five times because we were trying to get an exhibition game down there next year," said Bothwell. "I called him to tell him that it wasn't going to work out, and in the course of that conversation it came up that their coach had resigned." Bothwell decided to keep the possibility of him leaving from reaching others, particularly the Dinos, who were in the midst of a playoff run.
"We had just finished the series with Lethbridge and were looking to playing [Alberta]," said Bothwell. "We didn't want it to be a distraction for the team, so we tried to keep it as quiet as possible."
One of the attractions for anyone, coaches and players, is the amount of money thrown around in the NCAA as compared to the CIAU. Salaries are much higher for coaches, and players flock to the scholarship-laden schools in the States.
"It's certainly fair to say that the pay would have been significantly more," stated Bothwell. "The level of hockey is not that much different but the profile is higher in the hockey world; there is a lot more money supporting the programs down there."
Bothwell was quick to point out that he has not sought a new position, this particular offer just seemed to fall on his lap.
"Every year there are obviously lots of changes that happen and there are lots of possibilities out there," mentioned Bothwell.
Besides one offer [from Brown University] in his first year here at U of C, "there have been a couple of other opportunities in the Western League that could have been possibilities if I had pursued them. I didn't because I did enjoy it here and we were trying to win a national championship, and we still are."
So where does Tim Bothwell want to see his future take him?
"You know what? That's a really hard question," answered the coach. "I'm not dead-set on getting to the NHL; I mean I've been there as a player and obviously it's a great hockey experience, but I'm not bent on getting there. I'm just looking for situations that will challenge me as a coach and help me grow as a coach.
"I look for situations that are interesting and challenging to me, that I think I'll enjoy," added Bothwell. "That's why I'm here, too. We have a chance to win because we have good players, it's a place where you like to live, and it's a challenge because we had never won a national championship."