The back-to-back champion Rochester Knighthawks have re-signed head coach Mike Hasen to a four-year contract agreement. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
The Rochester Knighthawks have announced that head coach Mike Hasen has agreed to a four-year deal. The Brampton, Ontario native enters his fourth season behind the bench after leading the team to back-to-back National Lacrosse League Championships (2012-13). Hasen was excited to re-sign with an organization that he has been a part of for 14 years.
“It’s really exciting. You never expect your playing career to end, but to have this opportunity has been great,” said Hasen. “I appreciate everything Curt (Styres) and the organization has done. I look forward to continuing the run (we are on).”
In 2013, he became the first Rochester coach to lead his team to consecutive titles after guiding the Knighthawks to an 11-10 victory over the Washington Stealth. In his coaching career, Hasen has a record of 25-23 in the regular season and 6-1 in the postseason. His six playoff victories are the most of any coach in team history. In 2014, he has a chance to accomplish another NLL first: winning three straight championships.
“It’s never been done before, and it’s never been done for a reason because this league is so good,” said Hasen. “We definitely have our work cut out for us. We know it’s going to be harder than these last two for sure.”
In 2012, he guided Rochester to its first NLL Championship since the 2007 season. For Hasen, lifting the Cup with his son Austin by his side was a perfect way to end a season filled with challenges and obstacles. It was a testament to the team’s hard work and sticking to a system that he set in place during Training Camp. The plan had finally paid off, and it was time to celebrate for the players and fans of the Rochester Knighthawks.
“It was really nice to be able to win it at home. It was a long time coming for the City of Rochester,” he said. “We won it at home for the fans; it was great for them.”
On September 14, 2010, Hasen was named the club’s sixth head coach. Prior to his promotion, he spent two seasons as an assistant under Paul Gait (2009-10). In 2011, the Knighthawks returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2009 campaign. That season, 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.
Hasen moved behind the bench after a stellar 13-year pro career, which included nine seasons in Rochester (1999-2007). In February of 2011, he was inducted into the Knighthawks Hall of Fame. Hasen was a five-time team captain and was a member of the 2007 NLL Championship. He was team MVP in 2003-04, a two-time winner of the team’s Unsung Hero Award (2000-01 to 2001-02) and a three-time recipient of the Knighthawks’ Best Defenseman honor.
“It’s my identity in this league. To play, wear that uniform, and still be able to a part of the organization and bring that success we had as a player, means everything,” said Hasen. “The Knighthawks are in my blood. There is no other place I would rather be.”
Prior to arriving in Rochester, he played with the Buffalo Bandits from 1996 to 1999. He was also selected as the Unsung Hero of Buffalo’s 1996 championship team. In his career, he played in 150 games and recorded 23 goals, 82 assists and 704 loose balls.
“He was one of the most underrated defenders of all-time. He was a very quiet leader, he led by example. He has brought that into his coaching style. He is one of those coaches who doesn’t have to say much,” said Rochester forward Dan Dawson, who has played for and against Hasen during his 12 seasons in the NLL. “He outworks every coach in the league, doing game film until three in the morning. He is smart, intelligent and everyone wants to play for him. He put his body on the line when he played, and he expects the same from you when you are playing for him. He did what he is preaching.”
With such an impressive background it’s no wonder he has earned the respect of his players.
“I love Haser. I played with him and now I play for him,” said defenseman Paul Dawson, who was acquired last season along with his brother Dan. “He is the ultimate team first guy and he brings a passion you know is real.”