Bob Motzko remembers Gopher legend Doug Woog: 'No one enjoyed being with people more than Doug Woog'

University of Minnesota men’s hockey coach Bob Motzko had a range of emotions Monday, from laughter to choking up, when talking about Doug Woog.

Woog, a South St. Paul hockey legend and long-time coach of the Gophers, passed away on Saturday at the age of 75. To call him a hockey icon in Minnesota might be understating it a little. Woog lived and breathed Gopher hockey.

“I’m not sure that we couldn’t get into a debate that he’s probably the most or one of the greatest ambassadors of Gopher hockey of all time. It started obviously as a player, before my time. Then he goes, a legendary coach, and one of the most successful coaches of all time in college hockey,” Motzko said.

Woog was a three-time All-State selection in his high school days at South St. Paul, leading the Packers to four state tournament appearances. He was the leading scorer of the state tournament in 1962, and South St. Paul retired his No. 7 jersey in 2010.

He was a three-year letter winner with the Gophers under John Mariucci, collecting 101 points in 80 career games. Woog started coaching in 1971, and returned to South St. Paul as head coach in 1977. He led the Packers to two conference titles and four state tournaments.

Woog took over the Gopher hockey program in 1985. In 14 seasons, he led the Gophers to 12 NCAA Tournaments and six Frozen Four appearances. His teams won the WCHA regular season title four times, and the postseason tournament three times. He was named the WCHA Coach of the Year in 1990 and got 388 career wins.

He stepped down as head coach in 1999, and the next season, provided color commentary on TV broadcasts has he partnered with Frank Mazzocco.

“He had fun with it. He was the Dick Vitale of hockey for the University of Minnesota and our region, and he was damn funny doing it,” Motzko said.

There will be a lot of stories about Woog shared as they remember the man who epitomized Gopher hockey. Motzko shared two on Monday.

He spoke of his first coaching gig with the North Iowa Huskies. Motzko said he didn’t have any drills for practices. After his morning practice, Motzko would drive up to Mariucci Arena to watch Woog run Gopher hockey practices. One day, Woog went up into the stands, skates still on and approached Motzko, asking what he was doing.

“I told him who I was and that became for he and I, we had countless meetings all talking hockey. I’ll bet that there are countless other high school coaches, youth coaches, college coaches, they’re going to tell you the same story,” Motzko said.

Motzko couldn’t put a date on his other story, but it involved a USA Hockey event at Michigan State. One night, Motzko and Woog were two of several coaches to end up at a bar. The two sat together, and Woog drew up drills on napkins. He’d slide on over to Motzko before drawing up another.

“I got back to my room that night and I had over 50 napkins of drills and transition in my pocket,” Motzko said.

Motzko spent four seasons with the Gophers as an assistant to Woog before building a national power at St. Cloud State.

What will Motzko remember most about Woog? That he was a people person, and would engage anyone who would listen.

“No one enjoyed being with the people more than Doug Woog, and talking hockey. It’s just a very sad loss for all of us. But boy his legacy is going to be as deep as any in the history of this school. The love he had for this school and this program, and this state. Our hearts go out to the family, and his legacy will live strong forever,” Motzko said.