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Lakeville North Hockey Head Coach Position in Limbo

Longtime Head Coach Randy Schmitz's contract not renewed, potential replacement's hiring delayed for unspecified reasons.

With less than two months before the puck drops in the 2011-2012 Minnesota high school hockey season, two-time defending Section 1AA champions have yet to officially name a coach for the upcoming season and the position appears to be in limbo.

Longtime Panther hockey coach Randy Schmitz was let go from his coaching position for unspecified reasons in August. Schmitz was also the coach for softball at Lakeville North and the district is actively pursuing a replacement for that position as well.

Numerous hockey-associated websites list Rosemount’s Trent Eigner as being hired for the job, but as of this report, his contract has not been approved by the School Board, and bumps in the hiring process may be getting bumpier.

After a brief statement about the district’s coaching renewal policy at the board’s Sept. 27 meeting, the board pulled approval of the winter coaching positions from the agenda and tabled the issue for further discussion without stating a reason.

A special closed meeting was held by the School Board on Tuesday, Oct. 4 concerning Eigner’s potential employment. It has not yet been confirmed what issues may surround Eigner’s hiring, but the process is also being delayed by a grievance filed by Schmitz. Schmitz is expected appear before the board at another closed session on Tuesday, Oct. 11 to dispute his firing.

“My understanding is that the situation has more to do with the past coaching staff and whether the process took place correctly or not,” said Eigner with regard to the hiring delay. “I have to proceed as if I’m the coach, and that’s what I’ve done.”

When asked about reports his hiring might be in question, Eigner said “I’m not privy to those meetings” and said those questions would better be directed to school administration.

Lakeville North Activities Director Robert Ertl said the issue was an internal matter and declined to comment on any issues surrounding the coaching position.

Eigner, whose resume includes playing for Rosemount High School from 1984-1988, Miami (Ohio) University and a six-year professional minor league career, was recently hired by Rosemount as the co-head coach for their varsity girls’ hockey squad. Eigner was also the head coach of the El Paso Buzzards of the Central Hockey League from 2000-2002.

Eigner, a father of five sons, opened The Pond ice skating rink in Rosemount in 2008 and has been involved in coaching and instruction of youth at that facility since then as well.

“Obviously with five sons of my own I’ve always aspired to coach on the boys’ side,” said Eigner of his jumping at the Lakeville North opportunity so soon after his Rosemount hiring for the girls’ team. “Logistically the opportunity was going to have to come south of the river, so when the Lakeville position opened up I was thrilled at opportunity.”

Eigner said he has assembled a staff that includes former Minnesota Gopher hockey standout and San Jose Shark Ryan Kraft, as well as former University of North Dakota and Carolina Hurricane player Brad DeFauw.

But whether Eigner and his seemingly talented staff will ultimately get the chance to step on the ice with the Panthers is still uncertain.

“I don’t know,” said Eigner. “I know it has been their (school administration) intention of going through with the hiring process.”

The Panthers finished last year with a record of 13-14-1 but beat to earn their second straight berth in the state tournament. The Panthers ultimately won the .

Schmitz and longtime assistant coach Paul Rutt were both named Section 1AA Coaches of the Year for the second consecutive time last year by the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association. Eigner’s apparent hiring of his own staff means Rutt will also not be back with the team.

Lakeville Patch will have more on this story as details become available.

SB dude October 08, 2011 at 02:22 PM
The decision as to whether Schmitz should continue as coach was apparently not based on a won-loss record or past performance. The same goes for Schmitz as the softball coach, also at North. So why did the administration let him go from both these positions? And why so late after the season, in August? Ertle won't comment because it's an "internal matter". Can we find out more about this?
Concerned Parent October 08, 2011 at 09:13 PM
I am guessing that most youth hockey players are under 96 1/2 pounds mean anything? Do your research people.
Betty October 09, 2011 at 09:36 PM
Why is everyone pointed the finger at Mr. Schmitz? Perhaps the parents in LHA need to look inward as to why he didn't help at the youth level. Mr. Schmitz retired after many years with the district. My understanding is he assumed he could still coach but didn't find out until after that he was, in effect, giving his resignation as a coach too. I think the naysayers should be doing a Goggle search on Trent Eigner and see what pops up. Perhaps the lack of him being approved by the board has nothing to do with Mr. Schmitz. Do your own homework.....
north October 10, 2011 at 04:18 AM
The School Administration finally had the courage to not renew the contract for Randy Schmitz and now the School Board is questioning their “process”. Randy has skated through decades of ineptness while being protected and now they question process? The new Admin expects the best and this is a great start. Thank you – thank you – thank you!
MM October 10, 2011 at 02:18 PM
I can't belive all the negativity for a team that just won the AA consolation championship last year. Its pretty sad. I thought some of parents had a little more class than this. I was wrong. A change is sometimes needed I understand that. The bashing of a nice man who dedicated his entire career to Lakeville Public Schools is absolutely pathetic.
Concerned parent October 10, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Very impressed with Trent at the LHA Parent Meeting. Has Randy ever attended this and spoke about how excited he is to coach at Lakeville North? No! It will be a huge step backwards if somehow Randy is reinstated as coach. It will be a sad days for all the kids and parents that now have something to strive for, a coach they want to stick around and aspire to play for.
SB dude October 10, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Just curious as to whether the same strong opinions exist regarding his softball coaching.
Buff October 10, 2011 at 03:08 PM
We have lived in Lakeville since 1998 and I can honestly say that any change would be a good change. My kids are out of the program now, but the coaching staff during this time was not interested in developing players or winning. From what I saw over the past 13 years at practice was the same old boring squirt and pee wee drills with no purpose. They never challenged the players in practice. You never saw the passion from the coaching staff to compete and have every player in the program get better. I am sure in their own way they thought they were doing what needed to be done. If you know anything about hockey and watched a Lakeville team coached by the previous staff from the beginning of the season to the end, they did not improve on a consistent bases. I always felt that we had the talent to be more of a contender in the Lake conference. The only reason we made it to state was because of the boys on the team, it had nothing to do with the coaching staff. There jobs during the games was to yell and send the lines out, there was no coaching or corrections going on during games. Lastly they were not interested at all in helping Lakeville Hockey Association and I believe if you want your program to get better you must start at the younger levels.
Puckman'70 October 10, 2011 at 03:45 PM
After watching good players leave year after year (other schools don't lose theirs), after hearing graduating players complain how horrible the experience playing for these coaches has been, after being laughed at at the State Tournament by just about everyone including Lou Nanne because of these coaches, after hearing about the lack of hockey knowledge, no development for players, and EVERY YEAR hearing parents and players wanting to get rid of this coaching staff.. etc. etc. for starters. Apparently these coaches have files of complaints stacked high in the ADs office. Bottom line: poor returns on the investment.
Hockey Coach October 10, 2011 at 03:48 PM
There is a time when change is good, and that time is now. I have been involved in hockey for 40 years as a player and coach in more than one state and in every program I have been involved with the ones that are successful are the ones where the head coach is involved with the youth program. I have been in Lakeville for 7 years and have yet to see any involvement from the high schools coach in the Lakeville youth hockey program. We have an opportunity to bring someone in who will change that and bring in some very talented assistants with him. Do you think there is a reason why Lakeville hockey has become the feeder program for St Thomas, it is because there coach actually helps them get a college scholarship when they are done with high school and shows passion in their development. School Board, quit playing politics and make the right decision you have already lost a lot of confidence within this community, next time it will be the voters decision on whether or not you will have that chance to vote on situations like this.
Puckman'70 October 10, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Does the word EXONERATED mean any thing to you? I suggest you do your research.
Puckman'70 October 10, 2011 at 03:53 PM
We did do our homework. Look up the work EXONERATED and see what 'pops up' before putting a foot in mouth.
Lakeville Resident October 10, 2011 at 08:22 PM
School Board, you need to make an important, timely decision that is best for both Lakeville North HS and the Lakeville community. High School coaches need to be involved with the youth association in order to build a successful program. A quick glance of other sucessful HS programs around the state of Minnesota will tell you that. Not only has Coach Eigner and his staff stated this is a goal of theirs, they have already engaged the Youth Association in just the short time they've been there! The resumes of the staff should speak for themselves. This seems to be a very easy decision.
huh? October 10, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Maybe it is time for a change, but maybe Eigner is the wrong guy to replace Schmitz. Coaching H.S. kids should meet higher standards than this guy has shown, EXONERATED or not. Former El Paso hockey coach cleared of drug charges EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- After more than a year, drug possession charges against former El Paso Buzzards hockey coach Trent Eigner have been dropped. Eigner's wife, Melissa, 26, and Rodolfo Alarcon, 39, of Santa Teresa, N.M., pleaded guilty to the crime and told the judge the former coach had nothing to do with it. "It's tough when people are calling you things like the 'cartel coach,' and your mother is reading about it," Eigner, 32, said Tuesday. "My sense of relief is tough to explain right now." On Jan. 31, 2002, 96 1/2 pounds of marijuana were found in Alarcon's car, which was parked in the Eigner's garage. Police, acting on a tip, had staked out the home and watched the couple make room in their garage as Alarcon pulled the car in and parked. Alarcon and Melissa Eigner left in another car and officers approached Trent Eigner who gave them permission to search the home. A drug-sniffing dog alerted authorities to the marijuana. Eigner, who refused to resign as Buzzards coach, was fired the day after his arrest. He said Tuesday that he'd like to coach again. Melissa Eigner and Alarcon received the state recommended sentence of 10 years probation, 600 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine.
Lakeville Hockey Parent October 10, 2011 at 09:00 PM
One has to wonder why the School Board would choose this specific situation to deviate from the standard hiring process? For years, the Principal and AD have made these decisions. Why change that now and why change that for only this instance? I guess we will find out on Tuesday which school board members have the best interest of the kids in mind and which one's have a favor to pay or an axe to grind. Trent Eigner has my full support and the support of 95% of those who care about hockey in Lakeville. If the school board doesn't support Trent and the team of coaches he has assembled, they will be the laughing stalk of the community.
Lakeville Resident October 10, 2011 at 09:24 PM
School board, the actions or lack there of by the past Lakeville Hockey coach speak louder than words. That would be of a coach that has little or no interest in the kids in the youth program that will eventually play in his program at the varsity level if they are good enough for him. The problem with this is that he has no idea what is being taught to the players at the association level. Any successful sports program at the high school level has the Varsity coach involved in the development program levels( take a look at the North and South football programs, Apple Valley wrestling,Edina hockey, Eden Prairie Football etc). After 5 years in Lakeville hockey I have yet to ever see the Varsity coach outside his games or practices. Maybe this is why so many good and talented players have left Lakeville for better opportunities to play and develop to their fullest potential. To not put Mr. Eigner into this opportunity would be a big dis-service to the kids of Lakeville hockey, the community and the fans of highschool hockey in this community. Mr. Eigner is a student of the game and revolves his life around his family and hockey. The kids that have the opportunity to play for him would be very lucky to be taught the game of hockey and life by him. Trent will be an amazing coach, I sure hope it is here in Lakeville and not in another community because our school board chooses to stay with the same unsuccessful coach. He had his chance now is time for a New Coach(Trent Eigner).
Ted Thompson October 10, 2011 at 10:26 PM
It is the job of the elected school board to hire school administrators to staff the district's buildings and programs. By all accounts, the LNHS principal and a.d. did an outstanding job when it came to posting the position all the way to advancing the best candidate for the board's approval. This process works in most districts and worked hear too. Trent Eigner is a fine choice. If the whole thing was tabled due to concern that Schmitz was treated unfairly, keep in mind that all high school coaching jobs are one year deals and not covered under the contract negotiated by the teacher's union. The administration decided to make a change because they felt change was needed. Most agree. I agree. The change is what is best for the kids playing hockey in Lakeville. Now back to the school board....it is not their job to micro-manage the people they hire. Maybe if they stuck to running the big picture they would have the time necessary to read the contract they offer the superintendent so he is not skipping town with our money in tow.
MM October 10, 2011 at 11:00 PM
It is also the a.d.'s job to have a required post season interview with the varsity coaches and explain concerns, make changes, talk about improvements that could be made etc. If this would have happened after last season which it didn't maybe none of this would be happening, a new coach and staff would be officially in place, and the program could be moving forward rather than getting off on the wrong foot. Its potentially an exciting time for Lakeville hockey with the changes being made. It should have been done in a more professional manner so a smoother transition could have taken place.
Puckman'70 October 11, 2011 at 02:57 AM
Softball? Really?
upnorth October 11, 2011 at 02:59 AM
You are right that this is a pathetic situation. But understand, many people over the years have wanted this to happen. The vast majority as a matter of fact. This is not new and nobody wants to bash Mr. Schmitz because he truly is a good guy. This is a terrible situation for everyone. But we are a good hockey community desperate for change. We want to be great and want a leader with the same aspirations. The opportunity is now. If you read through the negative barbs at Mr. Schmitz, there are numerous minimal expectations that he simply does not fulfill as the head coach of a high school team. He is missing the boat on what it takes to be even a good coach let alone great. What I have never heard at the rink or elsewhere are the supporters who counter with actual heaps of positive attributes of his coaching. A coach who is in command, one who is involved with the youth, one who develops players physically and mentally, one who competes game after game, one who advocates for this players to make advanced teams, and one who would do anything to see a kid get a shot at ANY level after high school. That is the guy we want and that is the guy we will get if the School Board puts its faith in its administration to do their job. They are spot on with this change, let it happen.
Puckman'70 October 11, 2011 at 03:10 AM
Nice guy? Sure Randy is. He's one of the nicest guys around. Good hockey coach? No. Nobody employs someone who's NOT good for a company just cause he's a nice guy. The same goes for a HS hockey program.. but somehow Lakeville saw that differently over the years.. until now. It takes a real leader to make change for the better. Thank you principal and AD.
Puckman'70 October 11, 2011 at 03:13 AM
C'mon MM. Really? The change has been made in plenty of time. The right change was made. The only thing interfering with a smooth transition are the board members.
LNHS MOM October 11, 2011 at 03:41 AM
To the 3 board members who are on board with the administration THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! To the other 3 board members please think about the kids not your personal vendettas. The kids of Lakeville North deserve to have a coach who wants to be involved in their development not only in hockey but also in life. To the people who don't understand what EXONERATED means and to those that just want to stir up dirt, SHAME ON YOU!!!!
LVHockey October 11, 2011 at 04:05 AM
School Board .......... you need to approve Eigner and his staff as the new HS hockey coaches. By not doing so will set terrible precedent and you'll never find a good qualified coach like Eigner that will want to come to LNHS. Schmitz has zero interest in building the program, which starts all the way down to the Mite level. He DOESN'T CARE!!! It's time for a change, a new direction, and hope for a program we all can be proud of.
Hockey Family October 11, 2011 at 04:01 PM
The job of the school administration is to put the best people possible into every job, whether it be for teacher or coach. Mr. Schmitz has now retired from a long and distinguished career as a teacher and as a community, we should applaud his service and professionalism. But that should have no bearing on this decision either in the minds of the school board or with the school administration. None. Zero. The job now is to get the best coach possible under less than ideal conditions. Debating whose is at fault in the creation of this situation does not help anyone address it. With all due respect to Mr. Schmitz, the administration's job now is to focus on the kids and the program; it is not to reward a teacher for his service. They have done that by going through a process and choosing the best qualified person. It is abundantly clear, if you take even a cursory look at Mr. Schmitz activity within the local hockey community, that Mr.Schmitz is not the best person for this coaching job. After 10 years with the LHA, many of those years on the LHA Board, I can say that neither Mr. Schmitz nor his coaching staff care about developing the hockey program and hockey players. If they do then they have a funny way of showing it. So let the administration do their job. They have selected Trent Eigner. I strongly encourage the school board to approve the selection of Trent Eigner as North Boys Head Coach.
LetsPlayHockey October 11, 2011 at 04:17 PM
We are missing what is really important here, and that is what is best for the boys. There is no way that Randy Schmitz or any of these other assistants could return to coach this team. Like an elected official without a mandate, there would be no following. We are a month away from playing hockey and the selfish political misgivings of a few school board members can derail the season before it even starts. Anyone think this will be forgotten come school board election time?
Hire Someone New October 11, 2011 at 08:51 PM
What is important is the boys and is Trent Eigner the right choice? Yes HE was exonerated, but WHY was there almost 100 pounds of marijuana at his house? Remember, while he came out smelling like a rose, his wife and friend got TEN years probation and a fine - did they take the fall for him? Was he so oblivious that he didn't know they had it? Really? 100 pounds? I would hope that you are aware of what your spouse is doing or what's going on in your own home, so it calls into question his ability to manage a program of high school boys. And that amount is not for personal use, it's for distribution and selling. Who is it sold to? High school kids, young adults? Now, do you see the connection and the concern of Lakeville parents? I do. Truth be told, both these guys should step down and make a clean sweep for Lakeville. Either coach is now tainted and the issue is about THEM and not the BOYS!
CAT@COMCAST October 12, 2011 at 01:08 AM
Why is it that LHA is so invested in Mr. Eigner? Is there some inside deal? Our experience with LHA was that they played "favorites" and were NOT interested in the development of players, well I should say "certain kids" I heard if there were kids on the fence of making a team they'd pick the kid with the hotter mom. How professional! I don't understand why LHA would have such a say on who should be the High School hockey coach? Could it be that Mr. Schmitz tried to deal with LHA in the past and hit a dead end? Maybe it's time for a change but what's wrong with the other coaches that served under Mr. Schmitz? I just don't understand that with the shady past of Mr. Eigner he would be considered to coach young men.
Troy Thompson October 12, 2011 at 01:28 AM
Trent Eigner has been confirmed as Lakeville North's head hockey coach in a 5-1 vote by the School Board. Full story coming.
Ex Hockey Dad December 30, 2012 at 02:47 AM
After having a son play for Lakeville, and now that he's much older and able to talk about the experience, I can say that much of his issues were not with Randy Schmitz. It was Paul Rutt. Randy stuck with him for way to long....Rutt was a troubled teenager, had problems with drugs...and was not good at relationships with his players. Randy backing him for so many years as his top assistant was a nail in the coffin.

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