MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When we first met Joe Dziedzic it was 1989. He was leading the state in scoring at Minneapolis Edison High School and on his way to a Mr. Hockey Award.
Dziedzic went onto play for the University of Minnesota and eventually to the NHL, where he had a career with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I grew up in a pretty athletic family so my brothers were always playing and I would always compete against my brothers and their buddies,” Dziedzic said. “It seemed that it helped me down the road.”
Fast forward 22 years and he is back in high school hockey. Dziedzic is now the head boys hockey coach at St. Paul Academy. He never really left the game because he loves it too much.
“I didn’t really want to climb the coaching ladder, move from city to city and hope to get a break down the road,” Dziedzic said. “You never know, you’re never guaranteed anything. I wanted to stick around the Minneapolis area so I just started doing camps and one thing led to another.”
His biggest challenge now is changing a mindset. St. Paul Academy is currently 1-4, went 11-14-2 last year and was only 8-18 two years ago.
“I’m finding now that the culture of what kind of players were there, that they needed to be upgraded and be more committed. That’s what we’re in the process of doing right now,” said Dziedzic.
He was the ultimate three-sport student athlete at Minneapolis Edison. It’s rarely seen these days in the time of specialization, and as he reflects he understands what’s changed in the game, he just doesn’t always agree with it.
“Most of my buddies were three-sport athletes who played football, hockey and baseball or football, basketball and track. Now it seems that more and more kids are focusing on one sport,” Dziedzic said. “There’s some good things that come out of that but there’s some bad things too. Sometimes kids get burnt out being at the rink all year-round.”