Dave Rogowski was on his way to earning a master’s degree in public policy at the University of Denver, when he threw caution to the wind and asked the hockey team if they needed any help. Yes, this Lake Villa native had grown up playing with the Highland Park Falcons and played club hockey at St. Louis University, but he saw his career in policy, specifically educational policy, not as a hockey coach.
So much for career plans. Some nine years later he celebrated with the Golden Knights and the rest of the coaching staff after they won the Stanley Cup.
His start as a coach was inauspicious at best. “They let me help with the stuff no one else wanted to do, but I ended up getting along well with the staff,” Rogowski says of his time at DU.
He describes the staff there as excellent, allowing him to learn from great people. He points to Jim Montgomery, who was the head coach and now is the head coach for the Boston Bruins, as making a big impact.
“It was an extreme case of being at the right place at the right time,” Rogowski says. “They offered to help me any way they could if I wanted to keep going with it. I ended up not finishing my masters, one class short, and leaving as a video coach after we won the College National Championship.”
From there, Rogowski accepted a job as director of hockey operations with the Chicago Steel, which plays their home games at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva. One year later, he would join the Chicago Wolves as an analyst and video coach, and that proved to be pivotal. During his two seasons with the Wolves, Rogowski spent a lot of time at their practice facility at the Triphahn Community Center and Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates. In his first season with the team, the Wolves made it to the AHL Calder Cup finals.
“Dave was our very talented video guy,” says Wayne Messmer, senior executive vice president of the Wolves, who sings the National Anthem at every game. “Really nice guy and super skilled video coach. The team and management loved him. We are all proud and happy for him.”
So what exactly does a video coach do? In college, a video coach deals mostly with upcoming preparation, Rogowski says, preparing for who the team is playing next and handing that information off to the other coaches. In the NHL, the video coach covers preparation and is responsible for the in-game coaches’ challenges, dealing with possibly overturning calls on the ice.
That’s where Rogowski became indispensable. In his first season with the Golden Knights, he was a perfect five for five on challenges, including four offside reviews and a goalie interference.
Rogowski landed with the Knights because they are affiliated with the Wolves, consequently the organization knew about him and asked him to apply for the video coach opening.
“The Knights are a first class organization, from top to bottom,” he says. “They provided me with an opportunity that I am extremely grateful for and I cannot thank everyone involved enough for allowing me to be a part of what they have built here.”
In just his third season with the team, the Knights won it all, giving Rogowski the chance to hoist the Stanley Cup on the ice and ride in the championship parade down the Las Vegas strip before an estimated 200,000 people.
“You start to think about what it will be like and you imagine all of it, and then it happens and it’s 100 times better than anything you dreamed of,” Rogowski says. “Part of what makes it special is being able to share it with the people who you have worked with to get there, and those around you who have sacrificed to help you get there, like my wonderful wife Molly and my parents.”