WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 30, 2012, 07:13 PM

Former players remember Morinville's coaching influence

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - The head of Moorhead hockey for the past 15 years, is calling it a coaching career. Dave Morinville says it's time to step aside.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

The head of Moorhead hockey for the past 15 years, is calling it a coaching career. Dave Morinville says it's time to step aside. He's been the face of Moorhead hockey, but today Dave Morinville says he's ready for the next chapter.

Morinville has a resume that few can match in Minnesota hockey history: 8 state trips, 4 runner-up finishes. He leaves after another trip to state, and says it’s just the right time to step down.

Dave Morinville – 485 Career Wins: “It's been a good run because we've had great players. Our youth hockey has done a great job of developing those guys, and I'm just a spoke in the wheel that's keeping it going. It was fun and I'll have to a lot of great memories. I played at Moorhead High and coached there. It's my alma mater, I just don't have the 'Welcome Back Kotter' hair, but it's been a good run."

The long-time coach has hockey tentacles that stretch to teams across the country --- even Europe. It all started in Moorhead, where he spent 15 years as head coach.

Tonight WDAY 6 Reporter Kevin Wallevand talks with some of the professional players who still know Morinville as Coach.

In a community where kids learn to skate about the same time they learn to walk, news of Morinville's retirement spread quickly. Today former players, many of them standouts, talked about Coach Morinville's expectations.

Joe Cullen Professional Hockey Player: “It is kind of work hard, have fun sort of attitude.”

Coming from a legendary hockey family, Joe Cullen, like his brothers and father, knows what it takes to be a player. He just returned home to Moorhead after playing professional hockey in Italy this past winter. Joe played for Morinville his junior year in high school, Morinville's first year as head coach.

Joe Cullen: “You get that from Dave. He made sure you played your best and performed at your best.”

Cullen left Moorhead, knowing Coach Morinville taught him more than just hockey.

Joe Cullen: “If you play your best, you will succeed no matter what you do.”

Brian Lee – NHL Player: “Dave was a coach who demanded the best from his players.”

Brian Lee also just returned home after playing with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. He played for three years under Morinville.

Brian Lee: “He got to know his players individually and so he got the best out of his players. He’s a real good coach and real good guy.”

Which brings us to a young man who soon will graduate from Moorhead High, and has hopes and dreams of playing puck for years to come. Michael Bitzer, still training today, weeks after the season ended, says Morinville had expectations.

Michael Bitzer – Moorhead High Senior: “Morinville is the kind of guy who expects the best out of you and you don't want to disappoint someone like that.”

That perhaps is what any coach wants when stepping down; athletes who years after they have left the nest realize that push out of the nest was the best thing that ever happened.

Another of Morinville's players is still playing this season. Chris VandeVelde skates with the Edmonton Oilers organization.