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The guy who made most of the locker-room speeches for the Lincoln Stars this season will be standing in the back of the room next season.

Jimmy McGroarty was demoted to associate head coach, and will now work under new head coach Chad Johnson.

Stars president Jim Pflug says when he told McGroarty he would no longer be head coach, the role of associate head coach was not an offer initially.

Pflug says the organization has always allowed the head coach to determine his staff.

It was following conversations between all of those involved that the new arraignment came about.

After he spoke with McGroarty, Johnson said he had no reservations about the unique prospect of the previous head coach still working for the team.

Johnson got to know McGroarty while McGroarty was an assistant with Omaha for five seasons and Lincoln for one.

"My only concern at the time was maybe there would be concerns on his end, and that was answered no less than 15 seconds into the conversation," Johnson said. "He took a day to absorb it. He just didn't say the right things, he feels the right things. If we didn't have that good of a relationship it wouldn't work."

McGroarty had completed his third season as head coach, and had one year remaining on a three-year contract.

The organization felt a move was needed right away.

"Even after it was apparent that we weren't going to make the playoffs, I think we were looking for some sign of change and some momentum that we could have confidence in the future," Pflug said. "I think we felt like we owe it to the fans to put a staff together that we think gives us the best chance to compete for championships."

Pflug hasn't met with McGroarty yet to work out revised contract details.

McGroarty's regular-season record in Lincoln was 84-75-21, including a West Division regular-season title last season. His playoff record was 8-7, with losses twice in the semifinals.

A concern this season was an 8-18-4 record in home games. Lincoln sold 129,430 tickets for 30 home games this season, 5,000 less than the previous season.

McGroarty can still be a valuable asset to Lincoln, Pflug said.

"We think with Chad, Jimmy and Nick (Fouts) you have three different coaching strengths and networks, and when you put it together it's a good situation," he said.

McGroarty was most respected as general manager his first two seasons, bringing to Lincoln such players as Jake Newton, David Reekie, Lyon Messier and Jimmy Hayes.

McGroarty was in Chicago scouting players Thursday, and did not return a message to his cell phone.

Reach Brent C. Wagner at 473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com.

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