So here are the different reports of Vermont Associate Head Coach John Micheletto heading to Amherst as the next UMass coach.
Matt Vautour of the Gazette was the first to report the news.
It was later confirmed by others including Section U’s own Jim Clark who confirmed the news in the Boston Herald.
Edit: Micheletto will be introduced at a 4pm Press Conference later today. -MC
I wasn’t planning on registering my opinion until the it became official. However, I have also been able to confirm the news through my own sources, so I might as well weigh in on the news myself.
I’ll admit that when Toot Cahoon stepped down nearly four weeks ago, Micheletto was not on the top of my list. Well, he wasn’t on my radar. OK, he wasn’t really even a recognizable name to me at the time. But I did know there were three things I wanted out of a candidate. Hockey East experience in some capacity. Experience as an assistant recruiting to a school of similar prestige as UMass (i.e. not a Boston College where you’re picking recruits instead of them picking you). And head coaching experience at some level, likely junior. Those three things led me to three top candidates; Merrimack’s Mark Dennehy who I think we all knew was a longshot at best, former UMass Graduate Assistant and Merrimack Assistant Darren Yopyk, and Dubuque Head Coach Jim Montgomery. For various reasons, those three were not destined to become the UMass head coach. Along the way in the search we found the job offered (yes, offered) to current DI head coaches like Holy Cross’ Paul Peal and Quinnpiac’s Rand Pecknold. These were well respected guys who had have problems breaking through in their own leagues and I thought would could struggle in Hockey East. Cedar Rapids coach Mark Carlson was also a top candidate for the position and he possessed those three qualifications I was hoping for. In the end it ended up being John Micheletto
Micheletto has two of the the things I was looking for. He has been an assistant in Hockey East as long as Vermont has been in the league. As Associate Head Coach at Vermont he has experience recruiting to a school of similar prestige to UMass. And frankly, I’ve thought Vermont’s recruiting has been better than UMass’ in recent years, which makes me optimistic. Whether you’re talking about past stars like Viktor Stalberg or even guys like Zemgus Girgensons, who recently spurred the Catamounts this week to sign with the Sabres, the fact is that Vermont has been getting some very good recruits. Guys like Nick Luuko are players who Micheletto persuaded to chose Vermont directly over UMass. Minuteman fans will be careful not to be jaded by this hire by only looking at UVM’s last place finish this past year. Though the past two years have been abysmal, Vermont has made the NCAA tournament twice in the past five years, including the Frozen Four in 2009. In fact in some kind of irony I realized when I sat down to write this piece that I’d been wearing the t-shirt I bought at the Frozen Four in Washington featuring the Vermont logo. What UMass fans do have to be concerned about is that Micheletto’s last experience as a head coach came in prep school. He does bring to Amherst a lot of time working in USA Hockey however which lends to the hope that he can develop players at this level.
This is not the flashy hire that most of us hoped for. However, as the search went on and UMass fans grew ever more frustrated, it became clear that a flashy hire was never in the cards due to the limitations of the administration in charge of the search. But, in the end this still seems like someone who can potentially do well at UMass. There are a lot of positives to Micheletto and I’m willing to see how he’s able to do at UMass before completely passing judgment. We should get a pretty good feel from him early. While his strength may be recruiting he’ll walk into a solid core of players who leg UMass to some upset wins last year and seemed on the verge of something big this coming season. It’s up to Micheletto to step in and get the most out of those players. I think UMass fans were expecting to seem a successful season this year no matter who was coach given everything coming back. I don’t think, despite all that has transpired so far this offseason, we’ve seen anything to abandon that hope as of yet.
A bunch of T.J. Syner related news to pass along.
First, you can watch video of him at Capitals Development Camp here.
Capitals Outsider had this nice feature on him. Hershey Bear coach said he’s one of the quickest players he’s ever seen. UMass fans already know that.
The Patriot-News had this story on Syner and cousin and BC Eagle Barry Almeida at camp together.