In September 2010, a then-assistant coach Mike Hasen was handed the head coaching reigns for a Rochester Knighthawks team that failed to make the playoffs the season prior. Did the Toronto, Ontario, native have any expectations when given the promotion?
“Not by any stretch of the imagination,” said Hasen when asked about it.
On Jan. 8, 2011, Craig Point’s overtime-winner lifted the original Knighthawks to an 11-10 victory, getting Hasen his first win as an NLL head coach.
“Not at all,” said Hasen when asked if he remembered anything from that game.
On Dec. 23, 2023, Ryan Smith’s game-winning conversion put the ‘Hawks bench boss into triple digits. Hasen has reached 100 wins as an NLL head coach. He’s the sixth coach in league history to do so.
“It was a great opportunity (to be named head coach) and I’m very fortunate that the opportunity still is presenting itself. In this position, it’s just like a game. It’s week-to-week. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so I’m just focusing on what’s next.”
Hasen’s ability to remain humble surprises almost nobody, especially his son and second generation Knighthawk, Austin Hasen, who scored two goals in the big game for dad.
“He’s not going to tell you it is, but it’s real special for him,” said the younger Hasen. “He loves this place. It’s his home.”
Hasen has spent the bulk of his adult life in The Flower City. He was dealt to the original Rochester Knighthawks from Buffalo in 1999 and remained with the ‘Hawks until retiring in 2007. He then transitioned into the coaching world with the team and has been here since. For coach Hasen, the city of Rochester has been home for over 20 years. For Austin, this is the only home he knows. He grew up in Blue Cross Arena.
“I remember being a kid running around playing manhunt in this building while they were doing shootarounds. It’s crazy and surreal sometimes. You take in every moment here and I love it here.”
“He was born in October, so he was around three or four months old when he came into that locker room for the first time and I’m glad to see 23 years later he’s in that Knighthawks room. It’s awesome to see and it’s a special moment.”
Few coaches have reached 100 wins in the NLL and it’s possible none have or ever will with their son in the lineup and contributing with two goals. The Hasen’s are an exception.
But it’s not just a family affair. Players outside the Hasen tree have sung the praises of the Knighthawks’ bench boss.
“You can see how much this city means to him,” said Knighthawks captain Dan Coates. “Him being a player and now a coach here. He absolutely loves it, and we can feel that as players. Ultimately, you can still tell he’s a player. Obviously, success follows him, so he’s doing something right. My two-plus years here with him have been awesome. I love how detailed he is.”
“He’s everything,” said Smith. “All the work he does behind the scenes that nobody sees, and his preparation is amazing. There’s a reason he’s one of, if not the greatest coach of all-time and his stats speak for themselves. He’s not going to talk about them. He’s not that type of guy, but that’s what makes him such a good leader. He’s so humble and he knows how to get a locker room going.”
Hasen has a demeanor that doesn’t change, not even when he achieves a milestone like this. When asked immediately following the game for an interview on Segar and Sciortino Field, he politely declined. Instead, he said “make it about the players.”
That’s just the kind of person he is, but he admits that he has changed as a person and as a coach over the course of his tenure.
“I used to be young and naïve. I still rely on players to send messages, but I’m more patient now. Having a son in this age group on this team has helped. As he’s grown, I’ve kind of grown with it, and I think I can relate to these guys still. I’m not that old and not that out of touch that they’re going to tune me out any time soon.”
For Hasen and his players, it’s time to enjoy the holidays. After that, the team will fly out west for a Week 5 matchup with San Diego. That is the focus, but Hasen believes he’ll reflect on this one day: just not today.
“Maybe when I get old and I get gray, we’ll stop and look back at this. I got the ball, and I kept it this time. It’s something I’m very proud of. The guys on the floor paved the way and I’m just happy I got to be a part of that.”
“This is special,” said his son Austin. “There’s going to be more special games that come across, but this one definitely goes down as one of those games you’ll remember.”