He is the only coach in NCAA hockey history to win a Division I National Championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He’s coached in a Stanley Cup Final and led a high school team to back-to-back state titles. George Gwozdecky has also been fired, when he least expected it.
“Gwoz” grew up living and breathing hockey in Canada. In college at Wisconsin, he was part of the 1977 NCAA Championship team. When it became apparent his playing days would not continue into the NHL, George turned to coaching where he had multiple stops (mostly in 5-year increments) including as an assistant coach for the 1986 Michigan State NCAA Champions. His longest tenure was at the helm of the University of Denver where he spent 19 seasons and led the Pioneers to back to back NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005. From 2001 to 2013, Gwoz’s DU teams had at least 20 wins each season. Then, out of nowhere on April 1, 2013, he was fired. No joke.
He was stunned, however that setback opened new doors, including spending two years as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning and their appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015. Since 2015, George has been the head coach at Valor High School where he’s led the Eagles to multiple state title games and back to back championships.
There is life after being fired.
George is a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, the University of Denver Athletics Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame.