Dean Blais is going where he belongs.
The longtime coach, whose journey included a stop in Columbus from 2004 to 2007, has been named as part of the 2020 class that will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Its our pleasure to announce the #USHHOF Class of 2020!— USA Hockey (@usahockey) September 14, 2020
Congratulations & thank you for everything youve done for the game of hockey in the United States! https://t.co/0dvajqoz4W pic.twitter.com/rLRWjAxLsK
He was a talented player. Blais played four years (1969-1973) for the University of Minnesota, and was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1971. In 1976, after spending three years with the Blackhawks minor league team, Blais decided to become a coach.
It was quite a good decision, in hindsight. As the head coach at North Dakota from 1994-2004, he won two NCAA championships, made seven NCAA tournament appearances including three Frozen Fours, four WCHA regular-season titles and two WCHA playoff championships.
After his time at UND, he joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach from '04 to 2006. He took a player development role during the '06-2007 season. As the '06-'07 season concluded, he found another role: head coach and general manager for the Fargo Force in the USHL.
Then, he got back to his specialty: college hockey. From 2009-2017, Blais led the University of Nebraska-Omaha (now Omaha) to two NCAA tournament appearances, including one Frozen Four.
There's no question that he deserves his place. In his 18-year run as a college head coach, Blais finished with a mark of 407-246-84 and 14 winning seasons. While his stint with the Blue Jackets was brief, he undoubtedly made his mark.