Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mark Johnson staying in Madison

When the architect of arguably the most successful program in the Wisconsin athletic department (certainly over the past 10 years) starts to flirt with leaving the school for another position, many start to search for the panic button. Take a rest Badger fans, Mark Johnson is coming back.

World renowned hockey analyst Bob McKenzie from TSN in Canada is reporting that Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky, not Johnson will be named the inaugural head coach at Penn State. The Nitany Lions will start varsity D-1 competition as an independent for the 2012 hockey season before joining up with Michigan, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan Sate, and Wisconsin to form the new Big 10 hockey conference for the 2013 season.

The concern set in when Wisconsin State Journal beat writer Andy Baggot first reported a few months ago that Penn State asked permission to speak with Johnson after Badgers season was completed. The conclusion of the season saw Mark Johnson and the Badgers capture their fourth National Championship in school history, all on Johnson's watch.

After multiple reports of Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin being the front runner for the Penn State position surfaced last week, Baggot reported on Friday that not only did Johnson interview for the job, but that he was possibly at the top of their list of candidates.

With the news that Johnson won't be taking the job at Penn State, Wisconsin fans can look ahead at the possibilities next season. While losing Patt Kaz winner Meghan Duggan and fellow seniors Mallory Deluce, Kelly Nash, Geena Prough, Ann Dronen, Maria Evans and Carla Pentimone will no doubt hurt, the Badgers will be the favorites to repeat. They will return two of the best forwards in the country with Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker and also rock solid netminder Alex Rigsby. Oh yeah...and that guy behind the bench certainly has a little magic in him as well...

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Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times