Toronto, ON- The winningest coach in U SPORTS men’s hockey, Dave Adolph, is stepping away from the bench after 28 years leading the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
The former university athlete turn coach announced that he will leave the program effective May 1, 2020, around the usual time that the season would wrap up.
“After a lot of self-discussion, I’ve decided that now is the right time to step back as the men’s hockey coach,” said Adolph to Huskies Athletics. “Over the last 28 years, the team has accomplished more than I could have imagined, and my family and I are all proud to be members of the Huskie men’s hockey program.”
He steps out of the position as a defending Canada West champion, helping the Huskies over the UBC Thunderbirds in the 2019-20 final, but more prominently, holding 488 wins, the most ever by a men’s university hockey coach.
As a player, he skated 117 times for the Huskies, defending his team’s end at the old Rutherford Rink, an arena where he later coached. He held a tight defence during his playing days, pushing the Huskies to the 1983 U Cup before moving onto a coaching position with the now folded Lethbridge Pronghorns program.
While Adolph won a U Cup as a player, he coached the Huskies 16 times at the national tournament, including three finals. Although he was never able to bring back the trophy, the program’s sustained success and the presence at the tournament are unparalleled in western Canadian university hockey. He leaves the Huskies with seven Canada West titles, two national silvers and four national bronze medals.
In 2017, he led the Huskies to a silver medal at the U Cup in Fredericton, New Brunswick, falling to the hometown UNB Reds. He was awarded the U SPORTS Coach of the Year that season, which compliments his four Canada West coach’s awards.
Adolph, who was known for his honest, sometimes sarcastic answers to the media, also impacted the international state, coaching Canada’s FISU team a trio of times. His team’s won bronze at the FISU Games in 2015 in Granada, Spain and in 2003 in Tarvisio, Italy. He also took silver with Canada’s university team at the 1996 Nagano Cup.
Dave Hardy, the university’s chief Athletic Officer, knew that Adolph was pondering retirement; still, seeing it happen is bittersweet.
“I was so much wanting for him (to win a national championship as coach) … Winning is hard,” offered Hardy. “Everybody works hard. Everybody’s got good athletes. Sometimes just getting that gorilla off your back is the biggest challenge, said Hardy to Postmedia.
With Adolph stepping away from the bench, and McGill’s Peter Smith announcing his retirement in September, both the winningest men’s and women’s coaches in U SPORTS will not be there when play resumes.
McGill promptly Smith, with Alyssa Cecere taking over the role with the possibility of an RSEQ season; however, with the cancellation of Canada West competition until fall 2021, the Huskies can take their time.
When U SPORTS hockey finds its way back to the ice, a lot will have changed, but as Sportsnet’s Thomas Ketko wrote about, the change could help the future of university sport.