Hasen Signs Contract Extension
The Rochester Knighthawks announced today that Mike Hasen has agreed to a two-year deal, making him the longest-tenured head coach in franchise history. Hasen, who returns for his ninth season in 2018-19, guided the Knighthawks to last year's National Lacrosse League Finals.
"It's still very special to have the opportunity to coach this next wave of guys who, hopefully, can make the Knighthawks successful again," said the 2017-18 NLL Coach of the Year Finalist. "It's a great feeling, and I am glad to be a part of it."
During his eight seasons behind the bench, the 46-year-old has compiled a 75-63 regular season record and a 15-7 postseason mark. He has also taken his teams on six playoff runs (2011-15, 2018). In 2011, he made league history with his selection as the NLL Coach of the Year, becoming the first rookie head coach to win the Les Bartley Award. From 2012-14, he made National Lacrosse League history by winning three straight Champion's Cups. With such a string of success, it was only natural for Owner and General Manager Curt Styres to re-sign the most decorated head coach in franchise history.
"We have been very successful together," said Styres. "We complement each other very well and, as a team, we make everything around us much stronger."
This past season, Hasen became the first coach in team history to take the Knighthawks to four NLL Finals. During the 2017-18 campaign, he tied Paul Day for the most wins in franchise history with 75 to remain ninth all-time in NLL coaching victories. His last win secured Rochester second place in the East Division and locked up its first playoff berth in three seasons. Hasen did a masterful coaching job, taking a 2-6 team to the brink of winning the NLL Cup.
"It was a roller coaster of a year, but it was great to see the way the guys handled it and performed at the end of the season," said Hasen. "We were able to bounce back, and they gave us a chance to be one of two teams fighting to hoist the trophy. It bodes well for the future. We're going to come back in, take the lessons learned, work a little bit harder and have another good year."
During the playoff run, Hasen moved into third place all-time in postseason wins with a franchise-record 15 victories. The Brampton, Ontario native ranks among the greatest bench bosses in the history of the NLL, trailing only Les Bartley and Derek Keenan.
"His resume speaks for itself. I think he's one of the best lacrosse minds in the business," said Knighthawks assistant coach Mike Accursi, who has the unique perspective of playing and working alongside Hasen. "He is constantly changing, adjusting and making things better. He strives to be perfect, and I think that's all you can ask of a coach. He is a real passionate and competitive guy who has the trust and respect of the players."
Known as a players' coach, forward Cody Jamieson pointed out why Hasen remains one of the elite coaches in the league.
"'Hazer' is a coach that everyone wants to play for," he said. "He gets the most out of the players by trusting them and putting them in the best positions to succeed. He is a selfless guy who everyone has the utmost respect for. Guys will run through walls for him. His preparation is off the charts, and the loyalty he shows his players is appreciated."
In 2015, Hasen was recognized by the team as the winner of the Wolf Pack Award, which goes to the person who has shown outstanding dedication and commitment to the team. The award highlighted his incredible work ethic and tireless devotion to his players and fellow coaches during an incredible four-year run that included four playoff berths and three NLL titles.
When Hasen reflected on the league-record three straight titles, he admitted that the 2012 championship was the most memorable. That season, Rochester entered the playoffs as the second seed and knocked off the defending champion Toronto Rock in the East Division Finals. In the championship game, the Knighthawks rallied from a 5-1 halftime deficit to win their first NLL Cup since the 2007 season.
"Winning that first championship as a coach was tremendous," he said, "but I will look back in the past when I am old and grey. I am just looking forward to the next one and getting back on the floor in December."
The Knighthawks have been a part of Hasen's life ever since he signed with the team in 1999 as a defenseman. He helped anchor the Knighthawks' defense from 1999 to 2007, ending his 13-year career by winning the 2007 Champion's Cup. In 2011, he was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame.
After he ended his playing career, Hasen spent the next two seasons in Rochester as an assistant coach under Paul Gait (2009-10). On September 14, 2010, he became the club's sixth head coach in franchise history.
During his tenure, he has won more championships and games (regular season and playoff combined) than any other coach in franchise history.
"Mike is one of the top three NLL coaches," said Knighthawks VP of Player Personnel Jody Gage. "He has proven that not only by winning championships, but how he has gone from being a player to developing into a coach. It has mirrored his playing career as Mike was a captain and a leader. He does the same thing in coaching.
"He has done a great job with assistant coaches in bringing people on board and allowing them to grow as coaches. He's done a great job. We are fortunate to have him back."
The 2018-19 season will mark his 20th with the Knighthawks. Despite his longevity, the normally vocal head coach was nearly at a loss for words when asked to talk about his career in Rochester.
"I don't know if I can put into words what the Knighthawks have meant to me," he said. "All I ever wanted to do was to put on that jersey and wear it with pride. I am in a different role now, but I still feel like I am (wearing it) because of the history I have with the organization. Hopefully, we continue to move forward and have that opportunity to win again."
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Mike Hasen of the Rochester Knighthawks
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National Lacrosse League Stories from August 16, 2018
- Hasen Signs Contract Extension - Rochester Knighthawks
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