Todd Knott named Terry Flanagan Award winner by American Hockey Coaches Association

Since 2012, the Minnesota State Men’s Hockey program has been fortunate enough to be guided under direct supervision of Mike Hastings, arguably one of the best coaches in all of division I hockey. However, since 2009, the Minnesota State Hockey program has also been led by a strong hand, who often flies under the radar, in Associate Head Coach, Todd Knott.

Feb. 1, the Minnesota State athletics department announced that Todd Knott was this year’s recipient of the AHCA Terry Flanagan Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in collegiate hockey. 

“At first, when I got the call from coach Hastings, I was very humbled,” said Knott. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity that Hastings afforded me 11 years ago. And not only for the opportunity, but to be able to sit front row and watch one of the top coaches in the country and be surrounded by him and what he’s done.”

The humble Knott began his journey to the collegiate level similar to every collegiate-hopeful. The native of Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, accelerated his playing career with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars before spending his collegiate career at Bemidji State. 

Like most collegiate players, Knott soon realized that a professional hockey career wasn’t soon to follow once his time at Bemidji was done. Having been surrounded by role models in coaching growing up and into Bemidji State, Knott was able to get his foot in the door almost 20 years ago to the date.

“I remember reaching out to my coach, Tom Serratore, and asking him if I could come be a grad assistant,” said Knott. “He called me back in 24 hours and helped me get a better job with Fargo in the NAHL, under Shawn Kuralak.”

From there, Knott took a brief tour of the USHL, landing coaching positions with the Des Moines Buccaneers and the Sioux City Musketeers. Knott recalls a lot of running around from his apartment and time spent away from his wife, but it was from Sioux City that he was able to secure a job and buy his first house here in Mankato.

Knott arrived on the scene in Mankato in 2009 as an assistant head coach, just a few years before the hiring of Hastings as head coach. Since the hiring of Hastings, the two worked together to build the winningest program in division I hockey, with an overall record of 292-107-96.

“I think part of that is I have a great boss and we’re very similar in nature in the idea that we’re never satisfied,” said Knott. “If you’re not doing your job and continuing to work and get better, someone else is coming to take your spot.”

Though he admits the idea of never being satisfied isn’t always healthy, Knott understands the mindset it takes to be successful having grown up and been in sports for nearly all his life. Knott attributes this worrisome/“always looking over your shoulder” mindset to his father, who has ingrained the work ethic in Knott’s mind from a very young age.

Over the years, Knott has put forth a great deal of effort into recruiting some of the best college hockey players, to which 13 have played professionally in the National Hockey League. But beyond the skill and talent it takes to play at the collegiate level, Knott believes there’s more to recruiting than getting the most talented players.

“As coaches, we’re really focused on what our players do on the ice, in the community, academically, it’s them doing the heavy lifting,” said Knott. “We’ve been fortunate enough to not only have very good athletes here, but also really good people.”

Having accumulated a national-best overall record alongside Hastings, working firsthand to recruit some of the best college hockey players since entering the scene, and embodying a work ethic that’s been instilled in the program since his arrival, one could say it’s been long overdue for Knott to receive the prestigious Terry Flanagan Award.

“Again I’m very thankful,” said Knott. “To go along with that, Troy Jutting and Darren Blue, who I’ve worked with for 11 years. And then guys like Paul Kirtland, so there’s a lot of people in my world that have helped me get to where I’m at right now.”

Write to Karson Buelow at Karson.Buelow@mnsu.edu

Header photo: Assistant Head Coach of the Men’s Hockey team, Todd Knott, is the recipient of the Terry Flanagan Award for being the ACHA assistant coach of the year. (Dylan Engel)

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