Former Blue Jackets Assistant Coach Dean Blais Headed to U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

By Jacob Nitzberg on September 15, 2020 at 8:05 am
Dean Blais
Jeff Beiermann - University of Nebraska at Omaha

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. 

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.