It started with a casual conversation at the NHL Draft in Chicago in June between Lincoln Stars general manager Jon Hull and Cody Chupp, who was named the team's head coach Monday.
Chris Hartsburg was on his way to take over the head coaching position for the Erie Otters (Ontario Hockey League), and Chupp, a Green Bay Gamblers assistant coach at the time, thought the moment was right to put in his name in the mix.
“For me, it happened very quickly,” Chupp told the Journal Star after the Stars made the official announcement. “I've gotten to know Hully over the last few years. When I first found out the job was open at the NHL Draft, I just kind of threw it out there that it was something I would be interested in.”
As interesting as it was, Chupp did not go through the early application process. That's when Hull called Green Bay's head coach and general manager Pat Mikesh to ask if it was alright to talk to Chupp.
“I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday quickly going through the process,” Chupp said. “We met in person Thursday in Chicago and throughout the entire process I think it was both of us becoming more and more comfortable as time went on with each other.”
Chupp is no stranger to the United States Hockey League, having spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach for the Gamblers. He helped them to a 37-16-7 record in the 2015-16 season. The Big Rapids, Michigan, native helped develop 2017 Buffalo Sabres (NHL) first-round draft pick Casey Mittelstadt and USHL Defenseman of the Year Connor Mackey during his time in Green Bay.
“To have the ability to tell me something and have the credentials to back it up is something that was important in our process and he demonstrated a lot of that,” Hull said. “We want to be a team that is maximizing it's players' potential, developing those players at a very high rate and winning hockey games.”
Hull has always talked about a process, and may have fans excited for the Stars' next step on the agenda.
“We need to make the playoffs, and we need to be a team that challenges for the Clark Cup. That is the goal, with a lot of incremental goals throughout,” Hull added. “Our goal is always the same — to be the best team and be able to compete.”
Another thing Chupp brings to Lincoln from Green Bay is dominance on home ice.
“I tell people this all the time, when I was a player (at Tri-City and Waterloo), Lincoln was one of those places that gave you chills,” Chupp said. “The fans were packed, on top of you and rowdy from warm-ups. The pregame atmosphere with the lights, and it was always one of the hardest places to play in the league.
“I think that has been a consistency whoever the coach is in Lincoln. Lincoln has always had success at home and that is a huge credit to the fans and the atmosphere they create there. I couldn't be more excited to have that group of passionate rowdy fans on my side for once.”
With the Gamblers, Chupp helped develop a team that finished with the best record in the league on home ice with a 23-5-2 mark at the Resch Center (Green Bay's home ice) last season.
Hartsburg officially stepped down as Stars coach in late June. He coached the franchise for three seasons, leading the Stars to a playoff berth in his second season.