Lucia comments on television reports, says there will be no suspensions this weekend

by Chris Lempesis

Minnesota’s men’s hockey coach Don Lucia spoke to the media for the first time Wednesday regarding a recent KMSP-TV report that featured footage of some underage players drinking at Blarney Pub and Grill in Dinkytown.

Addressing a small group of reporters for roughly 10 minutes outside the Gophers’ locker room at Mariucci Arena, Lucia was candid at times and guarded at others.

As for what disciplinary action would be taken as a result of the story, Lucia – who said any investigation will be an internal matter – originally said that was a team matter.

He later said, in so many words, that there would be no suspensions forthcoming – or at least not for the weekend series with Alaska-Anchorage.

“Everybody that is healthy and that can play will be able to play (this weekend),” he said.

Lucia said the team is handling the situation as well as possible, but that it has not been an easy time, particularly for the younger players on the team.

Still, he said those players can take something away from this situation.

“It’s a learning time and that’s all part of kids when they go to college,” Lucia said. “You learn on the ice, you learn in the classroom, you learn off the ice. And this is certainly a great life lesson off the ice.”

But Lucia wouldn’t go as far as to say that this situation could be a potential rallying point for the team, as senior forward and team captain Gino Guyer said Monday.

It was announced Tuesday that players would not be made available to the media until after Friday night’s game with the Seawolves.

Lucia said the reason for that decision was so he could shield the players from the types of questions that were asked during the media session Wednesday.

While Lucia answered questions from the media at Mariucci, one media organization he said he hasn’t spoken to is KMSP-TV.

When asked if he planned to, Lucia grinned and said “that’s private,” a comment that drew laughter from the assembled media.

KMSP-TV has received negative feedback on its series of reports and Lucia said he wasn’t necessarily surprised.

“I’m happy that (the fans) showed a sign of support for our program and our kids because you know, we have good kids,” he said.

Lucia said he didn’t know if the high-profile status of the team made them a target of KMSP-TV. He also said that he’s not going to hold a grudge or get into a war of words with the station.

“I just want to move forward,” he said. “More often than not, it’s pretty hard to win a battle with somebody from the media and so you’re better off just closing the chapter, closing the book and move forward, and that’s what we are choosing to do.”