I'm not an Elite College Hockey Mind. I also am not a breaking-news guy. But when #92Noon "broke" the story around 11:30 a.m. on KFAN Gophers coach Don Lucia would not return for his 20th season the twitter-related stuff became laughable. I mean, I have known Don for 20 years, consider him a friend and even advised his daughter Ali years ago with career advice.
Cracked open twitter after the news-breaking segment and chuckled at the amount of butt-hurt individuals trying to poke holes in my report. So stupid, so twitter, so childish.
Anyway, Lucia and my 20-year career at KFAN go hand and hand and I am saddened he no longer will be the team's coach. I realize things have fallen off to a certain extent with the vibe and attendance, and not making the NCAA Tournament this year honestly was embarrassing. But for those who don't know for my first 11 years at KFAN I had a co-host named Jeff Dubay. It was the "P.A. and Dubay Show" on AM 1130 KFAN then FM 100.3.
In 2008 many lives changed when "Puffy" ran afoul with the law and was fired. I no longer wanted to work at KFAN and had zero desire to do the show by myself. My then boss Mke Crusham, current boss Gregg Swedberg and baby brother/boss Chad Abbott convinced me to stay the course. They gave me a new contract and long leash to establish #92Noon on my own. I'm glad I stayed because it's the best radio station in the country and we enjoy winning at a high level together.
Where Lucia ties into this is Dubay loved Gophers hockey the way I dig the Vikings, and even though I didn't know the difference between Ferris State and Ferris Bueller I lived the game vicariously through him and became friends with Lucia, Grant Potulny, Jordan Leopold, Johnny Pohl and others. Gophers hockey was a major part of the fiber of our show, and even though now I mix it in when possible it doesn't have the deeply rooted passion and/or feel it did when Puffy was around.
The news Lucia is done coaching here hit me hard and took me back to cold calls we would make when the team was on long bus rides to wherever and would chat with Lucia, players and the bus driver. It took me back to being at the X for the national-championship game when the Maine band was heading into the arena and Dubay leaned over a rail and screamed at them "cheaters, cheaters, cheaters." Mankato's Tav on the Av circa 1999. Big Mavs-loving crowd, the team gave me a jersey, I proclaimed my love for said squad, then took off the jersey and unveiled a Gophers hockey sweater, and we played "The Rouser." I threw down the Mavs sweater and stomped on it, and to this day there are those associated with Mankato hockey who loathe and will not speak to me. It was a regrettable moment for me, one for which I have apologized. Puffy loved the moment, I regretted it.
He loved this team and Don so much during one of their championship runs HE DIDN'T CHANGE HIS CLOTHES FOR THREE DAYS. Lucia joined our show frequently, and he and Jeff would dissect a game or season like me breaking down the YPA and red-zone efficiency for Kirk Cousins. Passion, man, you can't teach it.
I'll miss having Don on the #92Noon Presentation and am sure we'll stay in touch. He's the winningest coach in the history of that program and brought its fan base two championships. Other than Cheryl Reeve and her Lynx nobody around here can say that. This goes to show you even though Gophers hockey doesn't necessarily "move the meter" like the Vikings, those who love it love it to death, and it in a round-about way has been a big part of my career.