MINNEAPOLIS — Even an experienced college hockey coach like Bob Motzko admits that from time to time he needs some coaching. In the waning days of August, the Minnesota Gophers head coach got some new experience in a little-known but vital staff role.
Greg May was all smiles on a hot day in late June when the announcement for Hockey Day Minnesota in Minneapolis was made.
As the head boys hockey coach at the Blake School, he was headed into his fourth season running the Bears’ program with realistic hopes of leading the team to the Class AA state tournament for the first time, as he had done a few years earlier as the boys head coach at Farmington. Then his dream job opened up.
“It was a hard choice, because there’s a lot of excitement (at Blake), but ultimately, what went into the decision was me chasing a dream of working in college athletics and specifically college hockey,” said May, who was named the director of operations for Gophers hockey on Aug. 20.
He replaces John Hamre, who left the program to work in a similar role for new head coach Mike Eaves of the Cleveland Monsters, the top minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.
May, 34, was also an associate athletic director at Blake, and brings everything the Gophers were looking for to his new position.
“He had a lot of administrative responsibility with budgets, team travel and other sports, and then he’s a hockey coach,” Motzko said. “So we’re adding a dual threat to our offense with Greg.”
The position is part administrative, arranging things like team travel and meals, and setting up tournaments like the Mariucci Classic. May also plays a coaching role, breaking down video, helping the other coaches and players review past games and scouting future opponents.
“I say he’s the head coach to the head coach,” Motzko said, jokingly. “To have him here with a great business background and hockey background, we’re going to be able to utilize all of his talents in a great way.”
On Wednesday, while the players hustled from station to station getting their head shots taken and recording videos for future multimedia use, May had his head buried in his office, working to learn the video system the Gophers use, which is more advanced than the tools used by most high schools.
“I was on the forefront of using video as a high school coach,” May said. “Here, I feel like I need to be an IT guy to grasp everything.”
Originally from Burnsville, May played four years of college hockey at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, then went into coaching at age 22.
He was successful as a youth hockey head coach and as a high school assistant at Burnsville for four years. In his second year as a high school head coach, in 2016, he led Farmington to their first AA state tournament.
In three years at Blake he transformed the Bears program from an average Class A program to a AA team that won conference titles his final two seasons there. Former Gopher and Miracle on Ice star Rob McClanahan will take over the Bears’ program for the coming season.
“Rob was an assistant with me last year, so I felt it was important to keep things internal there, for the players and for their families,” May said.