Friday, May 16, 2008

Hastings Steps Aside; Littler Takes Over

It's official. Mike Hastings has gone out on top and Bliss Littler will be the new head coach.

The Omaha Lancers announced today that Mike Hastings has relinquished his head coaching duties to assume the role of President/General Manager of the organization. The Lancers have hired Bliss Littler to take over as Head Coach of the Lancers.

"I am excited to be joining a Lancers organization that is rich in tradition. I am looking forward to working with the returning players as well as the new faces during the 2008-09 season," Littler said. "Mike has set the bar extremely high with his professionalism and his winning ways. It will be a challenge, but the seat is already warm and it is one that I am looking forward to. My wife and I are excited to put down our roots in Omaha."

"We are excited to have Bliss join the Lancers organization. He brings the integrity, work ethic and individual disciplines to continue the commitment to excellence that the Lancers are known for," Hastings commented. "His coaching record speaks for itself. In the past, he has shown an ability to develop athletes off the ice as well as on the ice. The 2008-09 Lancers are in great hands."

Littler has spent the last seven seasons as a Head Coach and General Manager in the United States Hockey League. He began his USHL career with the Topeka Scarecrows during the 2001-02 season before taking over the reigns with the Tri-City Storm in 2003-04. During his first season at Tri-City, Littler and the Storm earned the Anderson Cup as the USHL regular season champions. That same season Littler was named the USHL General Manager of the Year. Littler has compiled a USHL record of 209-150-37.

Prior to joining the USHL, Littler won three regular season championships, five playoff championships and earned four National Tournament appearances with the Billings Bulls of the AWHL/NAHL from 1993-94 to 1999-2000. He was selected to serve as an AWHL All-Star game coach five times and King of the Hill head coach three times during his tenure in Billings. Littler left Billings after amassing a record of 251-104-30.

Heavy involvement with USA Hockey and its programs has been a focus of Littler's during his coaching career. The Minot, N.D. native served once as the head coach and three times as the assistant coach for the National Junior Team that participated in the Viking Cup. He has coached at the USA Hockey Select 15 Player Development Camp (four times) and USA Hockey Select 17 Player Development Camp (two times). Littler was also selected to coach at the National Junior Camp, which is for players competing for spots on the United States National Junior Team roster.

Littler played hockey and attended college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He will be joined in Omaha by his wife Gretchen and their two children Cade and Grace.

Hastings, who has served as the Head Coach and General Manager of the Omaha Lancers for the past 14 seasons, will continue as General Manager of the Lancers, but will be given added responsibilities as the organization's President. Lancers partner and former NHL-great Luc Robitaille, who has served as the team's President for the past two years, will relinquish his duties to Hastings immediately.

The Lancers' organization has experienced much success throughout the years under Hastings' guidance. The 2007-08 season proved to be one of the most successful yet. The Lancers earned the Anderson Cup and then the Clark Cup to cap off their season. Hastings also achieved personal records throughout this season. On November 30, 2007, Hastings joined only two other coaches in USHL history to reach the 500 wins plateau, but is the only one to claim all 500 victories with the same team. A 7-0 victory over Sioux Falls on February 16, 2008 set a new standard for USHL coaching success as Hastings became the USHL's all-time winningest coach by eclipsing Bob Ferguson's record of 517 wins.

While at the helm, Hastings has guided the Lancers to three Anderson Cups (2001-02, 2004-05, 2007-08) and three Clark Cup Championships (1997-98, 2000-01, 2007-08). Personal awards for Hastings include being named USHL Coach of the Year twice (1996-97, 2001-02) and USHL General Manager of the Year five times (1996-97, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2007-08). His teams have never had a losing season and have continued the Lancers tradition by adding 14 years of consecutive playoff appearances for a USHL record of 19 seasons.

Hastings' USA Hockey involvement includes serving as an assistant coach for the United States National Junior Team in 2003 and 2005 that participated in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. He also guided the 2000 USA Hockey Junior Select Team to its first-ever gold medal at the Viking Cup, after leading the team to a silver medal finish in 1996.

Hastings, a Crookston, Minn. native, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education from St. Cloud State University. He resides in Omaha with his wife Jean Ann and their children Hannah and Hudson.

Hastings steps off the bench with a 529-210-56 record.

The USHL is America's only Tier I league and the premier path for developing players in America. The league has over 170 current players committed to Division I colleges and 19 players that have been selected in the NHL Draft. For more information on the USHL and its member teams, visit us on the web at

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