MHS hockey suffers blow as Truehl resigns

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton Dan Truehl recently stepped down as Middleton's boys hockey coach.

Classy.

Respectful.

Well-mannered.

Those words weren’t always used when it came to Middleton’s boys hockey program before Dan Truehl became the Cardinals’ head coach in 2020.

In four short years, though, Truehl changed the culture internally and the perception of the program across the state.

That’s why it was a blow to the entire Middleton athletic department when Truehl stepped down on April 8.

“One thing we talk about all the time is we want first class adults in front of our kids,” Middleton athletic director Jamie Sims said. “Dan and his staff did a great job at that. I hate to see him leave.”

Truehl, the Director of Training at LIFT Consulting in Madison, said his job with that company has changed in recent years.

Truehl has climbed the ladder and now has a team of people working for him. He’s traveling more than ever. And juggling both hockey and a rising career became a struggle.

Late last season, Truehl knew it might be tough to continue this delicate balancing act. So after taking some time to contemplate his future, Truehl recently told Sims and his team that he was resigning.

“My life has changed a lot the last five years, since I walked in and started at Middleton,” Truehl said. “But it’s for nothing but good reasons.

“My other career, the one where I spend the most time, has taken off. My personal life has changed where I’m in a serious relationship and thinking about a family down the road. It was a tough decision, but for at least the next couple of years, I need to put down the whistle.”

Truehl brought professionalism back to a program that had hit its low point before his arrival.

Middleton was disqualified from the playoffs in 2020 for using an ineligible player that entire season. That led to an investigation in which MHS and former head coach Steffon Walby agreed to part ways.

Truehl had been Middleton’s JV coach in 2019-2020 before landing the head coaching job in May, 2020. And immediately after his hiring, Truehl focused on improving Middleton’s conduct and its image.

“I’m not worried if there’s a marred view of Middleton hockey right now,” Truehl said after he was hired. “I’m going to come in and run the kind of program people can be proud of.”

He certainly succeeded there.

Truehl’s first team played just six games as sports were getting re-started following the COVID-19 pandemic. Then he led Middleton on an upward trend — both on and off the ice — the last three years.

The Cardinals went 16-9 overall in 2022 and reached the regional finals. Middleton followed that by going 16-8 in 2023 and reaching the sectional semifinals. And this past season, the Cardinals had their most successful season under Truehl going 16-8, winning a share of the Big Eight Conference and reaching the sectional finals.

“It’s easy to point to the successes we had on the ice, but what was really cool the last four years was the culture we were able to build and create,” Truehl said. “At the end of the day, we were focused on letting the kids be themselves and having some fun and the results would follow.

“Every year we had kids come back over the holiday to skate, to come into the locker room, to be around the team and that gave us great perspective. We built something really cool. The community support got better and better, there were more and more people at our games. That’s something I hope continues.”

While Sims didn't hire Truehl — that was done by former interim athletic director Mark Kryka — Middleton’s current A.D. was extremely impressed watching Truehl’s teams in recent seasons.

“Dan was a good coach and someone I enjoyed working with,” Sims said. “But even more importantly, he had such a positive impact on the life of student athletes. That’s a quality that will continue to last.”

Sims said the job would be posted soon and he’ll spearhead the interview committee along with assistant A.D. Brad Crandall, some returning players and at least one parent representative.

As for Truehl, he exits with great pride in a program that did terrific things under his watch — and is positioned for continued success.

“There’s a lot of great families and a lot of great kids,” Truehl said. “And I said to the boys, we can only put the parameters for success into place. They’re the ones who have to build on those and I have no doubt they will. Middleton should not take any steps back.”

 

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