By Chris Block
On Tuesday, the Chicago Blackhawks officially announced the hiring of former Ohio State University head coach Mark Osiecki to be the assistant coach for the Rockford IceHogs.
The news was first reported earlier on Tuesday by Andy Johnson of the Bucky’s 5th Quarter site. Osiecki was hired by the Blackhawks last month.
Osiecki (Oh-SEE-kee) first spoke to Johnson from Blackhawks’ prospect camp, where Osiecki will be all this week helping assist in the practices and scrimmages.
“I’ve always wanted to step into the pro game and this was a perfect opportunity for me,” Osiecki told Johnson.
We can also confirm exclusively through a source that Osiecki will serve as the lone assistant to IceHogs head coach Ted Dent this season. Also, Andrew Allen remains as goaltending coach.
As reported here first on TheThirdManIn.com last week, Ben Simon and Steve Poapst were let go as Rockford assistants following the season after their contracts expired and were not renewed.
Two-man benches are not an uncommon scenario in the AHL. Ted Dent served as the only assistant under both Mike Haviland and Bill Peters from the 2006-07 season in Norfolk until 2010 when Poapst joined the staff in Peters’ last season behind the IceHogs’ bench. Simon joined the staff in 2011 after Peters left for a job on Mike Babcock’s staff in Detroit and Dent was promoted to fill the spot Peters vacated. In the dark days of the Blackhawks organization in the early 2000’s, Trent Yawney coached Chicago’s chief minor league affiliate Norfolk Admirals without an assistant.
–In addition to the confirmation of Dent’s new working partner, TheThirdManIn.com can also exclusively report the Chicago Blackhawks have extended the contract of Rockford’s head coach.
Ted Dent has agreed on terms of a two-year contract extension, with a club-option for a third season.
This new deal begins with the upcoming 2013-14 season. Dent and the Blackhawks finalized the extension around the beginning of the Stanley Cup Final series, according to a source with knowledge of the contract.
2013-14 will mark Dent’s third season as head coach of the Rockford IceHogs and eighth as a member of the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate minor league coaching staff.
As Rockford’s head coach, Dent’s record is 77-63-4-8 [W-L-OTL-SOL] for a .546 points-earned percentage.
You can follow the IceHogs’ coaches now on Twitter…
Ted Dent – @TDent10
Mark Osiecki – @Osiecki24
Osiecki will turn 45 later this month. His coaching career began in 1996 when he was hired as an assistant at the University of North Dakota under Dean Blais. Osiecki has coached every year since and embarks on his 18th coaching season this fall.
After one season at North Dakota, the former NHL defenseman was hired by the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL and spent the next seven seasons as head coach of the Gamblers.
Over his tenure in Green Bay, Osiecki mentored future NHL blue liners Tom Preissing, Jeff Finger, Nate Guenin and Matt Greene as well as forwards Adam Burish, Joey Crabb, Ryan Carter and Viktor Oreskovich. The Gamblers won the USHL championship in 2000, Osiecki’s third season in Green Bay.
In 2004, after back-to-back losing seasons in Green Bay, Osiecki returned to his alma mater when he accepted an assistant’s position in Madison, Wisconsin, on Mike Eaves’ Wisconsin Badgers coaching staff. Osiecki spent the next six years at Wisconsin, which included the Badgers’ 2006 NCAA national championship squad comprised of future NHLers Adam Burish, Jake Dowell, Jack Skille, Tom Gilbert, Brian Elliott and Joe Pavelski.
At Wisconsin, Osiecki also helped coach and recruit the likes of Kyle Turris, Derek Stepan, Craig Smith, Brendan Smith, Davis Drewiske, Michael Davies, Blake Geoffrion as well as defensemen Brendan Smith, Davis Drewiske, Ryan McDonagh, Jake Gardiner, Jamie McBain and Justin Schultz.
While head coach at Ohio State from 2010-13, Osiecki coached the Buckeyes to a 46-50-16 record.
Osiecki was fired by the Buckeyes in April, with Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith citing irreconcilable differences over the direction of that program. Steve Rohlik, Osiecki’s assistant coach at OSU and former teammate at Wisconsin, was named the new coach of the Buckeyes.
During his five year professional playing career, Osiecki appeared in 93 regular season games for the Calgary Flames (1991-92), Ottawa Sentators (92-93), Winnipeg Jets (92-93) and Minnesota North Stars (92-93).
This will be the first time Dent, 43, and Osiecki have crossed paths since the Wisconsin Badgers visited St. Lawrence University in March of 1989 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. That was Dent’s freshman season at St. Lawrence.
Dent’s professional playing career spanned four seasons and peaked in 1993-94 as a center on the ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs when he posted 30 goals and 54 assists in 67 regular season contests.
A Toronto native, Dent transitioned to the coaching ranks in 1999 when he became the video coach with the Washington Capitals. In five seasons serving in the position, Dent worked under head coaches Ron Wilson, Bruce Cassidy and Glen Hanlon as well as assistants Randy Carlyle and Tim Hunter.
In 2004-05, Dent became an assistant coach under Mike Haviland on the Trenton Titans. Together, Haviland and Dent would guide the Titans to an ECHL Kelly Cup championship in 2005.
The next season Dent accepted a job as head coach of the ECHL’s Columbia Inferno and went 25-39-3-5 (.403) as a first-time head coach.
Overall, Dent’s record thus far as a head coach is 102-102-7-13.
After one season in Columbia, Dent rejoined Mike Haviland, this time in Norfolk, Virginia, where Haviland had already spent one season as coach of the Chicago Blackhawks’ American Hockey League affiliate. Dent took over for Rick Kowalsky, who left to take the Trenton Titan’s head coaching job (he’s since been the head coach of the New Jersey Devils top affiliate) and who Norfolk general manager Al MacIsaac (now Executive VP and Assistant to John McDonough) had coached on the Hampton Roads (Norfolk) Admirals in the 90’s.
Rick Kowalsky was a top player on the Trenton team Haviland and Dent coached to an ECHL Kelly Cup in 2005. The goaltender on that team was Andrew Allen, current goaltending coach on Dent’s staff in Rockford. Allen, a Vermont graduate, retired after that season and moved into coaching. He joined the Blackhawks organization in Rockford in 2011.
Dent and current Blackhawks assistant and IceHogs’ general manager Mark Bernard also have a deep history with MacIssac.
Bernard, a goaltender, and Dent played for MacIssac in the Roller Hockey International (RHI) league in the mid-90’s when MacIsaac served as head coach of the Philadelphia Bulldogs. Bernard replaced MacIsaac as IceHogs’ GM in 2008 when MacIsaac moved up in the front office to become a full time position assisting John McDonough.