Broadfoot stepping down after 37 years on the job

Ask Harry Broadfoot what the worst part of his job is as the Minnesota menâÄôs hockey teamâÄôs equipment manager and youâÄôll find out he doesnâÄôt think there is one âÄî not even doing the teamâÄôs laundry. But ask him about the best part of his job and heâÄôs got quite a lot more to say. Broadfoot, 59, will retire this May after 37 years of employment at the University. âÄúIâÄôve had a chance to be a part of a great institution,âÄù Broadfoot said. âÄúWhen I first started down this road, IâÄôm not sure I could have envisioned being at this point and being here this long.âÄù Broadfoot, known as âÄúthe bomberâÄù by the team, has been working at the University since 1972 and with the menâÄôs hockey team since 1986 âÄî longer than the players, longer than the coaches, longer than the athletics director. âÄúThe infinite wisdom that man has âĦ I canâÄôt even recount the things heâÄôs taught me in these last four years here,âÄù student manager Matt McInnis said. Nobody on the team can picture what next year will look like without Broadfoot hustling around Mariucci Arena, preparing for the week ahead and joking around with the team. âÄúI donâÄôt know how to picture it,âÄù junior forward Ryan Stoa said. âÄúItâÄôll be weird.âÄù Coach Don Lucia canâÄôt picture it either âÄî in 10 seasons at Minnesota, Broadfoot is the only equipment manager Lucia has had. âÄúThereâÄôs going to be a big void,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúItâÄôs going to be very different to walk in here this summer and next year and see somebody different back there. âÄúHarry is one of those heart-and-soul guys for the program,âÄù Lucia said. The average person doesnâÄôt understand what heâÄôs meant to this program. He comes to the rink every day and his one and only thought is to make things better for the players and coaches.âÄù BroadfootâÄôs contributions to the team on the ice speak for themselves. Most game nights he can be seen watching intently from the Gophers bench. âÄúA good night for me is when no one is yelling my name [for help],âÄù Broadfoot said. But heâÄôs as well-known around the locker room for his fun-loving ways as he is for his skate sharpening ability. âÄúOne day, it was his birthday, and I walked in and said, âÄòHappy birthday,âÄô and Harry goes, âÄòHow do you actually know it was your birthday? How do you know your parents werenâÄôt lying to you?âÄô âÄú Stoa said. âÄúSo every day from then on, this was two years ago, I walk in and say âÄòhappy birthdayâÄô to Harry, and he says âÄòhappy birthdayâÄô back.âÄù Lucia echoed his captainâÄôs praise for Broadfoot. âÄúHarryâÄôs one of the real good people in college hockey,âÄù Lucia said. Just like the team, BroadfootâÄôs taking his last season with the Gophers one game at a time âÄî he hasnâÄôt given much thought about what heâÄôll do in retirement, other than a lot of fishing. âÄúIn that context, I donâÄôt even think about it right now. ThereâÄôs still a lot of work to be done,âÄù Broadfoot said as his team prepares to finish up the regular season with a two-game series at Michigan Tech this weekend. âÄúI canâÄôt get into whatâÄôs going to happen in two months. I make the best plans I can, but whatâÄôs important is today,âÄù he added. For someone who joked about not knowing how to spell hockey when he started working with the Gophers over two decades ago, Broadfoot will soon leave his office in Mariucci Arena for the last time. But he does so with the pride that comes from two national championships and the knowledge he helped improve the people and the program. âÄúThe faces change,âÄù Broadfoot said. âÄúBut the âÄòMâÄô stays the same.âÄù âÄîTo read more about Broadfoot and McInnis, see FridayâÄôs menâÄôs hockey pre-game blog.