Video courtesy of Jeff Cook
Sean Bloomfield is the sort of guy who could pluck daffodils out of storm clouds or unearth diamonds in coal mine. The second-year Chanhassen coach treats adversity as if it were a speed bump, turns setbacks into springboards for success and has never met an obstacle he couldn’t circumvent or, if necessary, smash to smithereens.
Which isn’t to say he’s superhuman. Bloomfield’s slip on a parking lot patch of ice this winter led to a broken leg, “the tibia and fibula both snapped,” he said, staying in character by finding a could-have-been-worse bright side to the excruciating mishap, “it didn’t break the skin.”
Bloomfield had surgery in late December and remains on crutches, giving him a new perspective, literally, on coaching. Sometimes he watches from the top of the bleachers but mostly he stays on the bench, allowing his assistants to run drills while he pulls players aside for one-on-one consultations.
“It stinks not being out there, but at the same time it is working out well,” said Bloomfield, who has guided the Storm to a 22-3-0 record and No. 1 seed in the Section 2AA playoffs. Chanhassen, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, opens the playoffs at 7 p.m. today against No. 8 seed Bloomington Jefferson (3-21-1).
Bloomfield played his high school hockey at Chaska and then served as the top assistant under former Hawks head coach Dave Snuggerud. When Snuggerud retired two years ago, Bloomfield, naturally, applied for his dream job. And didn’t get it.
Two weeks later the Chanhassen coaching position became available.
“It couldn’t have all worked out any better,” Bloomfield said. “But it sure didn’t feel like it at the time. It was a disappointment for sure.”
Bloomfield has been able to create a culture at Chanhassen that is purely of his design. Had he gotten the Chaska position, in some eyes, his work would have been merely a continuation of Snuggerud’s blueprint. Still, Snuggerud’s influence has had a lasting impact on Bloomfield.
“Sometimes during practices or in the locker room I have to look and make sure it is actually Sean and not Dave talking,” said Chanhassen assistant coach Zack Friedli, who previously coached the highly successful Chaska/Chanhassen Bantam AA team. “They have such a similar style.”
Chanhassen has gone 41-9-1 with Bloomfield behind the bench. Among the Storm’s victories this season was a 4-1 triumph over No. 1-2A Minnetonka, one of just two losses for the Skippers this season. Minnetonka is the No. 2 seed in Section 2AA. A 4-0 triumph over Chaska on Dec. 6, Chanhassen snapped a 13-game losing streak against its arch rival that dated to the 2015-16 season.
Among Chanhassen’s three losses this season was a surprising 3-1 setback against unranked Gentry Academy on Feb. 9. It offered a perfect teaching moment for Bloomfield.
“We reestablished that we have a great thing going here, but that we have to make sure we are giving it everything we have in the rink and out of the rink every day,” he said.
Chanhassen players appreciate Bloomfield’s communication skills and approachability. They also enjoy his pregame pep talks.
“I feel like he gives great locker room speeches before games to get you fired up,” senior Evan Miller said about Bloomfield before the season.
Chanhassen is in its 12th season as a stand-alone varsity program. The Storm have yet to record a playoff victory. It’s a gaping hole in the program’s dossier, yet one Bloomfield isn’t afraid to discuss.
“We asked the players the other day, ‘How many of you have won a playoff game in your life,’ ” Bloomfield said. “They all raised their hand. They have all been successful at other levels, so this isn’t something new to them.”