As is his practice when a season ends, Motzko gave his team the past two weeks off to decompress, heal and recharge. Now, with individual meetings with his players on tap – via FaceTime instead of face to face – Motzko faces new challenges in managing his squad in uncertain times.
“From our standpoint, it’s been trying to get organized on how we’re going to communicate with our guys, staying in contact as a staff, divvying up the players so they can hear our voices,’’ he said. “For the most part, we’ve been very encouraged with our conversations with our players. … They’re looking to us for answers, but like everybody, we don’t have an answer for them except this will pass. We’re going to get through this.’’
...One answer Motzko received was from sophomore forward Sampo Ranta, the team’s second-leading goal-scorer. Before he returned last week to his native Finland, Ranta, a third-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2018, told Motzko he planned to return for his junior season. Though it’s only March and things can change through the summer, Motzko doesn’t expect any early departures.
That challenge falls to Cal Dietz, the team’s highly regarded strength and conditioning coach. With players not yet allowed to use team facilities, Dietz must develop conditioning programs that are flexible with the amount of equipment players might or might not have at their disposal. “Our conditioning in this offseason will be the biggest factor in our success,’’ Motzko emphasized. “We are going to have to be creative.’’