MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. -- When Mike Randolph walked away from his post as Duluth East boys hockey coach last month, after three decades with the Greyhounds, he made it clear that he was resigning, not retiring.
Among the myriad calls and texts he got at that time from friends in hockey was one from St. Thomas Academy head coach Trent Eigner.
“We go way back, and in his text, after consoling me, Trent said, ‘You would look really good on my bench,’” Randolph said. He thanked Eigner for the note and said he planned to take the 2021-22 season off before looking to get back into coaching.
But after some time and consideration of the offer, the two coaches talked, then talked some more. And on Friday, July 23, it was announced that Randolph will move to the Twin Cities and serve as an assistant coach for Eigner’s Cadets starting this season.
“Mike is a good friend and I obviously respect him as a coach, immensely,” Eigner told The Rink Live. “It got to the point where all parties were in agreement and we got to move forward. Mike loves being a coach and working with the kids. He’s uber-competitive, which I love, so his message to me was, ‘I can do whatever.’”
For Randolph, who turns 70 in November, the move to the metro area represents an opportunity to be closer to family as well. He has two daughters, a son and four grandchildren all living in the Twin Cities. He resigned from Duluth East on June 4 in a controversial move, after the school planned a hearing to discuss allegations leveled against the coach. The hearing was cancelled as a result of Randolph’s resignation.
Randolph told The Rink Live on Friday that he met with Duluth East administrators on June 1 and was told that they were not going to renew his contract and they wished to go in a new direction with the boys hockey program. He said the meeting lasted less than five minutes and he offered his resignation that day as a result.
Randolph coached high school hockey for 36 years previously, leading the Greyhounds to 18 state tournament appearances and a pair of state championships. Prior to taking over the Duluth East program, he spent several seasons as an assistant coach at St. Scholastica, Minnesota Duluth and Duluth Denfeld.
“I told Trent I’m willing to push pucks, move cones, whatever. I’m mostly looking at it as an opportunity to learn from Trent,” Randolph said. “I’ve been doing it pretty much the same way for more than 30 years and I’m looking forward to learning another way of doing things.”
Randolph admitted that staying in Duluth could have been tough on him this coming winter.
“If I stay in Duluth, I won’t want to go to games because people won’t leave me alone and it won’t go away,” he said. “I thought what I’d end up doing is sitting in my basement and feeling sorry for myself and pouting.”
Thinking more about Eigner’s offer, Randolph said, “I need to do this.”
The Cadets went 13-5-3 last season and made the state tournament, falling to eventual champion Eden Prairie in the opener at Xcel Energy Center. Their 13 wins included a 7-1 victory over Duluth East on Feb. 27, 2021 at the Cadets’ home rink in Mendota Heights.