Friday, April 27, 2007

John Olver returning to pro hockey

Northern Michigan University assistant hockey coach John Olver is rumored to be leaving the Wildcats to take a front office job with the Iowa Stars of the American Hockey League.

Olver was the head coach of the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL prior to coming to Northern in 2005. The Steelheads and Stars are both affiliates of the NHL's Dallas Stars. Olver won a Kelly Cup Championship with the Steelheads in 2004.

Word is that Olver will take over as general manager of the Iowa Stars and may hold other titles as well. During his five years in Idaho from 2000-2005, Olver also served as vice president of hockey operations.

Neither NMU or the Iowa Stars have released anything official on the move yet but NMU does have a posting for an "Assistant Ice Hockey Coach/Physical Education Instructor." Olver, like many other Wildcat coaches, does teach some health promotion classes on the side such as hockey and racquetball.

Unless assistant John Kyle has retired in order to further protect his 1.000 winning percentage as a head hockey coach, this opening is a result of Olver's pending departure.

Recently, team doctor John Lehtinen took on an expanded role with NMU and resigned his post with the Marquette Electricians Midget AAA team. Lehtinen spent a lot of time with the Cats in 2006-07, but he is not rumored to be taking the place of Olver, who handled much of the recruiting along with Walt Kyle.

Mark Olver, the son of John, is scheduled to join the Wildcats in the fall of 2007. Mark Olver has yet to sign a National Letter of Intent with NMU and remains only a verbal commitment. It is no known whether or not this will effect him coming to NMU, except he will not get free tuition from his father being a university employee. This could cost the Wildcats a scholarship athlete.

Olver had originally left Idaho in order to reunite his family in Marquette. His other son, Darin, played for NMU and his father the past two seasons. Darin signed an amateur try out deal with the Hartford Wolfpack following the Cats elimination in the CCHA playoffs but was recently released.

Mark Olver was originally scheduled to join NMU in 2006-07 to play with his older brother and for his father, but was held back to develop further in the USHL.

John Olver originally replaced long time NMU assistant coach Dave Shyiak, who left to become the head coach of Alaska-Anchorage in 2005.

This information about Olver's departure comes from a reliable source in the Marquette hockey community but it has yet to be confirmed by either Iowa or NMU. When more becomes available, it will be posted here as we attempt to get this fully confirmed.

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