As coaching jobs go, Mark Strobel had it pretty good.
He was a top assistant, working alongside a good friend, at an ascending men's hockey program inside a major conference.
So why, in one brief phone call, did Strobel decide to pull up stakes?
Why did he walk away from Ohio State, where he was an associate head coach, to accept the same position at Big Ten Conference rival Wisconsin?
Why did he leave the coaching staff of Steve Rohlik – the two attended the same Minnesota high school, were recruited to the same college program and followed similar career paths – to move to Madison?
The answer, like Strobel, is straightforward and uncomplicated.
"It's where my heart has always been," he said.
It was announced Tuesday that UW coach Tony Granato has hired Strobel as an associate head coach, effective July 1.
Strobel fills the void created June 13 when Don Granato, Tony's younger brother, left to become an NHL assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks.
It's easier to embrace the mechanics of the move when you know that Granato, Rohlik and Strobel all played for the Badgers, wore the "C'' as captain – Granato in 1986-87, Rohlik in '88-90 and Strobel in '93-95 – and all have their degrees from Wisconsin.
So when Granato called Rohlik and asked for permission to speak with Strobel, Rohlik understood.
And when Strobel sat down with Rohlik, told him he'd been offered the job and would be leaving, again, Rohlik understood.
"It's a special place, that's all I can say," Strobel said of UW. "It's family to me."
Tony Granato, fresh off his first season as coach at his alma mater, used words like "charismatic" and "energetic" to describe the newest member of his all-UW staff.
Granato said Strobel would be highly compatible with associate head coach Mark Osiecki, a defenseman from 1987 to '90, and director of hockey operations Shane Connelly, a goaltender from 2005 to '09.
"He's a guy you want to be around," Granato said of Strobel. "Every time you see Mark Strobel you see a happy, energetic, passionate guy that loves life, loves hockey, loves the Badgers and has always been a big part of our program."
He's a phenomenal person, a great coach, who's going to add a lot to our program."
He's one of those guys you meet one time and you feel like you've known him your whole life."
Read more on this story at UWBadgers.com
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