End of hockey program a shock to Nystrom
Former Brock men’s hockey coach Murray Nystrom is out of a job after the University of Lethbridge shut down its men’s and women’s hockey teams citing three straight years of cuts to its operating grant.
Nystrom, who was named head coach of the men’s program in the summer of 2018, was blindsided by the news.
“Did not see it coming at all and was obviously disappointed when it came down,” said Nystrom, who complied a combined 14-37-5 record, making the playoffs in 2018-19, but missing the postseason in 2019-20.
“Since that point in time, I’ve just been trying to take care of the guys and help them with their transitions and next steps, whatever that may be. Some are trying to get on with other USPORT teams, some are graduating and moving on, and some may end up staying and finished their degree. I’m just trying to get that process moved forward as smoothly as possible and then probably heading east next week.”
A total of 52 student-athletes are affected by the decision, as well as coaches and recruits.
“We have had to make several difficult decisions in the past few months and this one is equally challenging,” University of Lethbridge president Mike McMahon said in the statement. “The Pronghorn hockey programs have been a source of great pride for our athletes, students, alumni, donors, sponsors, the campus community and supporters throughout southern Alberta.”
Nystrom understood the financial aspect of the decision.
“I’ve told this to a few people. There’s a number of reasons for it, for sure. You look at a price for a barrel of oil and that will tell a lot about what’s happening out west, among other things,” he said. “At the end of the day, the university’s ability to fund the programs just was not there. They made that decision and that’s that.”
Nystrom loved his time out west.
“Very sad to leave Lethbridge,” he said. “It’s an incredible place, just a beautiful part of the country. I generated some really great relationships in a short period of time, some really good friendships I’m going to miss.
“That’s the way it is. The world we’re living in now is hard to predict day to day. This falls right into that mix.”
Nystrom isn’t even thinking of the future at this point.
“I haven’t given it a lot of thought yet because the opportunity to reflect just hasn’t been there. I’ve got a 36-hour drive (home to Welland) that will give me the chance to reflect on it,” he said. “We were so focused on what was ahead of us. A couple of years ago we made playoffs and hosted nationals and last year was a step back year to reset to move forward to a couple of years down the road. We’re making some really good gains in the recruiting area and building the team.
“Right now it’s more about what was on the horizon that’s not going to be there and that’s tough right now.”
Nystrom realizes it may be difficult to find a new job until things begin to return to normal.
“The whole hockey world is on pause. Until that starts up again, I’ll be lot of things on line and connecting with old friends and coaches and sharing ideas and doing a little bit of self professional development and try to keep an eye on things as to where things are opening.
“Hockey will get going again at some point, it’s just nobody knows when.”
Nystrom spent 18 years at Brock guiding the Badgers to 14 playoff appearances while compiling a record of 191-227-18-38.
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