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Yeti

Lancers part ways with head coach Mike Aikens

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Yeti    0
Yeti

The first head coaching casualty. Not very surprising considering the circumstances of them not making the playoffs for the first time in 24 years.

 

http://www.omaha.com/article/20130408/SPORTS/704089923

 

 

The Omaha Lancers and coach Mike Aikens are parting ways after the team failed to qualify for the USHL playoffs for the first time in 24 seasons.

 

The Lancers announced Monday that the team and Aikens have agreed to a mutual separation. Assistant Brian Kaufman will coach the team during its final two regular season games this weekend.

 

Aikesn took over as the interim head coach on Nov. 30,2011 after Bliss Littler was fired. Aikens led the Lancers to a 29-11-1 record in 41 games and a second-place finish in the Western Conference after taking over.

 

This season, Aikens guided the Lancers to a 34-27-1 mark and a fifth-place finish in the Western Conference.

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Yeti    0
Yeti

Anyone else surprised the Lancers didn't let Aikens coach the final two games before making this decision?

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Bigfoot    0
Bigfoot

I reckon I am going to have to be the "softy" here and say I am surprised by the move, period.

 

Looking back over the past few years their record after 60 games (33-26-1) would have easily earned them a berth in the playoffs.

 

IMHO, this has been a very unusually close race in the West Division.

 

However I can appreciate some may put a lot of importance/emphasis of being in the playoff and the decision may have been made accordingly.

Edited by Bigfoot

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wndrkty    0
wndrkty

Very surprised. At this point let him finish out the year IMO. But the way the story is worded makes me think they informed him they wouldn't extend his contract to next season and he asked to go ahead and leave.

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Yeti    0
Yeti

It's interesting that two former Lancers (Scott Dornbrock, Jake Schechter) have favorited my prior tweet about head coach Mike Aikens getting the axe. Not fans of Aikens I guess.

 

https://twitter.com/...409570872377344

 

Just noticed that former Lancer Kenny Gillespie "liked" the article of the Aikens firing that was just posted on Omaha's Facebook page. Another "fan."

Edited by Yeti

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Ryan    0
Ryan

And Vince Pedrie retweeted you.

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Yeti    0
Yeti

And Vince Pedrie retweeted you.

 

I didn't realize he was a former Lancer.

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Yeti    0
Yeti
I will say this, there's a lot of rumors out there and we could see a big shake-up coaching-wise around these parts this summer!

 

Ohhhh...foreshadowing! Any chance you could tell us these rumors? Maybe a hint? :)

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wndrkty    0
wndrkty

Can't say for sure on schechter, truthfully I don't remember that name at all. But Aiks traded both Gillespie and dornbrock so it doesn't surprise me that they have no love for him. Petdrie asked to be traded and was out on waivers before Indiana picked him up so I'd have to assume there wasn't a very good relationship there either.

 

I'll be honest and say that I'm disappointed they let the coach go, but not overly surprised. I would have liked to see them give him a couple of years to rebuild the team, but obviously the ownership has other plans in mind.

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Yeti    0
Yeti

I guess the question is...if the USHL hadn't reduced the amount of teams that make the playoffs....does Aikens still get fired? In any other season (including next year), the Lancers would be the fifth seed in the playoffs. The one season they reduce the number of teams to four, the Lancers finish out of the playoff race.

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gbpuckfan    0
gbpuckfan

If Gwozdecky (the fired Denver coach) doesn't get a great college deal somewhere (which I think is unlikely), think he comes to the USHL for a year or two? Omaha could afford him...

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omalancers    0
omalancers

This really upsets me in the way it was done. I really liked aikens and was hoping he would be back next season. It was a low move to not let him finish the season. And what kind of message does it send to the players that if you have a slow year you lose your spot.

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casemagnum    0
casemagnum

I was really suprised. But Omaha is one of those teams that "TRADITION" means a lot. It was not acceptable it appears to the ownership. I wish he would have been able to finish the season as well unless it was above as stated that maybe he asked to just go and move on. Omaha is like most all major sports teams in the state of Nebraska that HATE to lose with a passion. The people in charge of those major sporting teams also do not accept losing well. It is not accepted by them to say "Well we will be ready next year". They realize once you lose that fan it is hard to get them back. Once the players are allowed to say that way or act that way is not allowed by them either. Best of luck to Aikens as I would take him as a coach anytime. Also best of luck to the Lancers in their pursuit of a new head coach.

 

 

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Yeti    0
Yeti

If Gwozdecky (the fired Denver coach) doesn't get a great college deal somewhere (which I think is unlikely), think he comes to the USHL for a year or two? Omaha could afford him...

 

Gwozdecky will have multiple colleges trying to woo him....I doubt he has any interest in going backwards to the USHL.

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OmahaHockeyFan    0
OmahaHockeyFan

Terrible move by the Lancers.  Aikens is a very good coach, especially at this level.  He's a good teacher, he knows how to communicate with players, and he has an eye for talent.  There were some small things I would liked to have seen different-strategy wise, but you can make any system work if you have the right tools.  Aikens knows how to coach at high level and didn't deserve this.  Ironically, his first and last games as the Lancers' head coach were wins against Lincoln. 

 

Aikens simply had several awful circumstances come together all at once this season.  The biggest issue was that he had almost no talent coming back from last season.  The talent level dropped badly under Bliss.  The Lancers had some really skilled players last year, but they were one and done guys.  Bliss went with an older team.  However, it was Aikens that turned that team around.  Without him, this would've happened last season, but it would've been so much worse.  

 

This season, it took months to get a team that could compete.  Aikens drafted better talent; it was just too young to carry the entire team early on.  You need your vets to lead the team, and his were just flat out bad.  He made some awesome moves that helped immediately, but several key injuries and losing Everson set the team back a lot.Having a younger team was made even worse with an eight game road stand to start the season.  The team lost some standings points that they probably would've gained had they had some home games.  And with the new arena, it took several games to develop a true home ice advantage.  Coach also had to deal with giving up home ice advantage for the outdoor game which turned out to be a huge divisional game.

 

With all the adversity Aikens was dealt, this happened to be the one year the league cut down the playoff field.  Any other year, including next, the Lancers are in.  This factor alone is why he deserves at least one more year.  The Lancers weren't a bottom feeder.  They had a really good record against the playoff teams.  They just had some utrouble playing with that same effort against the lower teams in the division, as a young team often does.

 

Thank you Coach Aikens for saving last year's team, winning a lot of games, and representing the organization so well.  I don't think I've seen a coach as proud to have their job as Aiks always was.  He was always so honest and open with fans and media that I would often do a double take at what he was saying.  There was never any coach speak from Aikens, and I appreciated that a lot.  I also want to thank Aikens for the performance in the outdoor game, one of my most favorite hockey memories.  I'm really going to miss him.  Hopefully he gets an even better job.  I was always very proud to see him behind the Lancers' bench.

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Mr Ricochet    3
Mr Ricochet

Anyone else surprised the Lancers didn't let Aikens coach the final two games before making this decision?

 

When I first read the title of the thread my first thought was ownership didn't take kindly to the 24 year playoff streak being broken. My second thought was, they couldn't let the guy finish out the two games left...... I thought of it the same way you did, Yeti.

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Mr Ricochet    3
Mr Ricochet

Omaha is like most all major sports teams in the state of Nebraska that HATE to lose with a passion. The people in charge of those major sporting teams also do not accept losing well. It is not accepted by them to say "Well we will be ready next year".

 

It's gotta be a good feeling to be a fan of a club with this kind of ownership!! I don't like the way Aikens was let go, but love the idea the Lancer ownership won't stand for losing.

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Mr Ricochet    3
Mr Ricochet

The timing isn't surprising either, I'm sure they want to get a coach in there before the draft, allow him to pick his team, etc. No sense in waiting any longer......

 

 

 

Are you intimating they have a guy in mind today, who has agreed in principle to be the coach?....... Otherwise giving Aikens the respect of waiting a week would have been preferable.........

 

Now if they have a guy who will be near the team and management starting tomorrow, I can understand showing Aikens the door as it would be uncomfortable for all concerned.

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Mr Ricochet    3
Mr Ricochet

Terrible move by the Lancers. Aikens is a very good coach, especially at this level. He's a good teacher, he knows how to communicate with players, and he has an eye for talent. There were some small things I would liked to have seen different-strategy wise, but you can make any system work if you have the right tools. Aikens knows how to coach at high level and didn't deserve this. Ironically, his first and last games as the Lancers' head coach were wins against Lincoln.

 

Aikens simply had several awful circumstances come together all at once this season. The biggest issue was that he had almost no talent coming back from last season. The talent level dropped badly under Bliss. The Lancers had some really skilled players last year, but they were one and done guys. Bliss went with an older team. However, it was Aikens that turned that team around. Without him, this would've happened last season, but it would've been so much worse.

 

This season, it took months to get a team that could compete. Aikens drafted better talent; it was just too young to carry the entire team early on. You need your vets to lead the team, and his were just flat out bad. He made some awesome moves that helped immediately, but several key injuries and losing Everson set the team back a lot.Having a younger team was made even worse with an eight game road stand to start the season. The team lost some standings points that they probably would've gained had they had some home games. And with the new arena, it took several games to develop a true home ice advantage. Coach also had to deal with giving up home ice advantage for the outdoor game which turned out to be a huge divisional game.

 

With all the adversity Aikens was dealt, this happened to be the one year the league cut down the playoff field. Any other year, including next, the Lancers are in. This factor alone is why he deserves at least one more year. The Lancers weren't a bottom feeder. They had a really good record against the playoff teams. They just had some utrouble playing with that same effort against the lower teams in the division, as a young team often does.

 

Thank you Coach Aikens for saving last year's team, winning a lot of games, and representing the organization so well. I don't think I've seen a coach as proud to have their job as Aiks always was. He was always so honest and open with fans and media that I would often do a double take at what he was saying. There was never any coach speak from Aikens, and I appreciated that a lot. I also want to thank Aikens for the performance in the outdoor game, one of my most favorite hockey memories. I'm really going to miss him. Hopefully he gets an even better job. I was always very proud to see him behind the Lancers' bench.

 

Indeed, a good post...... I've posted before the Lancer club I saw in Chicago was a good one. Lotta compete, a club that played up tempo and with heart.

 

Best of luck to coach Aikens.

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wndrkty    0
wndrkty

It wouldn't surprise me if Leigh Mendelson was named the next head coach. His title is associate head coach vs. Kaufman as assistant coach. In addition Mendelson has been out of town "recruiting" the entire season. I haven't once seen him behind the bench or at a team function. His massive recruiting would make sense if he's to take over the team.

Edited by wndrkty

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Yeti    0
Yeti

It wouldn't surprise me if Leigh Mendelson was named the next head coach. His title is associate head coach vs. Kaufman as assistant coach. In addition Mendelson has been out of town "recruiting" the entire season. I haven't once seen him behind the bench or at a team function. His massive recruiting would make sense if he's to take over the team.

 

Is Mendelson a big enough name, though? I understand he's a familiar face, and has been recruiting, but this next hire has to be a splash, imo. Lancers are going to open their purse strings. Nothing against Mendelson, but I'd be willing to bet that the Lancers have a big name in mind.

Edited by Yeti

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OmahaHockeyFan    0
OmahaHockeyFan

I'd like to see the Lancers open up the search this time which is what I think they'll do. My guess is they made this move now to give themselves more time for a search before the drafts.

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uggstown    0
uggstown

I think this is ownerships chance at finally getting "their guy" in place. When Bliss got fired, Aikens went on a tear and with such a winning streak, they had to give him the opportunity this year. Unfortunate for Aikens he didn't have A+ returning players, got hit by the injury bug and there are only 4 playoff teams in each conference this year. Adds up to missing the playoffs for the first time in over 2 decades and it gives ownership the perfect opportunity to go get their guy. Probably the guy they wanted at the end of last year, but Aikens winning record after Bliss' firing got in the way.

 

Mendelson doesn't get the job. He hasn't lasted anywhere for more than 1 year since he was last with the Lancers. Kaufman probably out too as he was an Aikens hire.

 

Have to think this is one of the premier jobs in the USHL and its going to be a "brand name" hire.

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