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Monday, February 11, 2008

Gasparini to Retire as USHL Head

From a league release:
Date: February 11, 2008
The architect of the USHL to ease into retirement

GRAND FORKS, N.D.: The United States Hockey League has announced that it will be initiating a process that will ultimately lead to the retirement of league president Gino Gasparini. "This is something that I’ve been thinking about, and recently I’ve thought about it more and more, so that was an indication to me that the timing is right to make this move," Gasparini said. "I wanted to make sure the league had enough lead time so that they could put a plan in place for the next person that will come in and lead this wonderful organization."

The league will be hiring a new president or executive director, with Gasparini staying on board as the league’s commissioner to assist in the leadership change transition.

"Gino had a vision for the USHL many years ago and through his guidance and persistence that vision has become reality," said Jim Kronschnabel, Chairman of the USHL Board of Governors. "We all owe Gino a huge debt of gratitude for keeping the team owners on track with the mission he laid out for us and helping us to achieve our goals. Hopefully he will continue to be a part of the USHL for many years to come."

A search committee has been formed and will present a list of finalists for the position to the USHL Board of Governors at its May meeting. Members of the search committee are Irv Dana, Lou Mervis, Luc Robitaille and Michael Schupay. Josh Mervis will serve the committee as its secretary and Brian Schoenborn will act as the committee’s legal advisor. Gasparini will also serve on the committee as an ex officio member. The timetable to fill the position will fall after the league meetings and into the off-season.

Gasparini came to the USHL in 1995, following a distinguished career as the head coach and athletic director at the University of North Dakota, where he led his teams to three national titles. His tenure in the USHL has been just as successful. In 13 seasons as the league’s leader, Gasparini has transformed the USHL from a run-of-the-mill junior league into the biggest supplier of talent to NCAA Division I college hockey. The growth isn’t reserved for college hockey alone. Attendance numbers have reached unprecedented heights, the league has experienced successful expansion and ownership has stabilized. The number of players chosen by, and ultimately appearing on NHL rosters, has skyrocketed under Gasparini’s watch. He was the driving force behind the league’s campaign for Tier I status, a classification which the league received from USA Hockey in 2002. Clearly, Gasparini’s vision has made the USHL the hockey development machine that it is today.

"It isn’t all due to me and I don’t want anyone to get that impression. The stabilization and growth of the USHL came about through teamwork and passionate ownership that all had a vision for the league," Gasparini said. "People like Butch Johnson, who spent many years as the chairman of the board and present board chairman Jim Kronschnabel have been instrumental in moving the league forward. The current ownership will continue to move the league forward."

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