So UMass made it official as Vermont assistant John Micheletto, or Coach Mick, became UMass third coach since the rebirth of the program and the 13th overall. Micheletto was given a five year contract to lead the Minutemen for $221,000 per year. It was a long and at times painful process to watch as a UMass fan but it feels good to finally have the chance to look ahead to next season and beyond with Micheletto at the helm of the program. As I wrote last night, given the new coach’s extensive experience in Hockey East and beyond, his excellent reputation as someone who can recruit top notch players to programs not necessarily considered elite, and his ability to develop players in college and at USA Hockey, this has the potential to be a very good hire for UMass.
I did not attend today’s press conference, though I wish I had been able to, however here’s a recap of the coverage from those who were there.
First up is the official release from UMass, including quotes from Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon and the UVM President. In today’s press conference AD John McCutcheon revealed that there were over 50 candidates for the position, 15 of which were interviewed. Coach Micheletto did say he plans to keep current assistant coach Len Quesnelle on staff and will begin the search for the second assistant soon, but hasn’t spoken to anyone yet.
Secondly here is the video of today’s press conference. It does include an edited portion of the Q&A period, which was inaudible during the live stream this afternoon.
Here are various quotes from the coach in today’s proceedings:
“Let me first say how humbled I am to be as the 13th head coach at the University of Massachusetts.”
“When I started coaching in 1991, I could have never fathomed that my opportunity (to be a head coach) would come with such a highly-regarded institution and hockey program as Massachusetts.”
“I’m eager to build on the many positives that are in place with our program right now; great young men with a desire to succeed and make UMass fans proud, a first-rate facility in the Mullins Center, a rabid fanbase, and a supportive administration”
“Culture, coaching, and recruiting are always keys to building a successful program. We have strong veteran leadership on this year’s club, that will go a long way in developing our culture.”
“We will play hard. We will play fast. We will create on offense because we commit to defense. We will be fun to watch. And we will be tough to play against.”
“To our many fans, you’ve proven to be among the best in Hockey East. We need you, your support, and your involvement to continue more strongly now than ever.”
“To hockey players in North America and around the world, find Amherst Massachusetts on your map and put a circle around it. This is the place to be. Go Minutemen.”
Here’s the blog post from UMass alum Jim Clark of the Boston Herald who covered the press conference. I’ll post Clark’s actual story in a subsequent post after it becomes available. I’m told the Globe did not have anyone in attendance. Shocking.
Here’s Matt Vautour’s story from today in the Gazette.
Masslive’s Harry Plumer has an extensive article up from the press conference.
Nick Canelas covered the press conference for the Collegian.
Current UMass players on Twitter were overwhelming positive and seemed relived to be able to focus on hockey again.
I’m sure there will be more coverage from Micheletto’s appointment and as always I’ll pass it along when I can. Overall I think this is a good day for UMass fans. We finally have the chance to look ahead to hockey with the hope that comes from something completely unknown. I’m sure no more than a few fans can say Coach Mick was their first choice when this process began, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all support him, and thus the team. Since it is mid-July we can actually look forward to the start of next season, ask “Is it October yet?”, and have that time be relatively close. Just 88 days away.
Now that the coaching search is over and we can turn to a new chapter of Minuteman hockey, I would like to address one more issue before we turn away from this page forever. Through the last four weeks, starting when Toot Cahoon stepped down among reports of lack of support, I have done my best to provide FTT readers with timely and accurate information regarding their UMass hockey team. I do not claim to be a journalist, but I can assure you that I relied heavily on news reported by legitimate and respect media sources. When I reported original news relating to the recent events, I only did so when I was able to confirm that information through other channels or was relayed information through very trusted sources. Despite this I have been accused by friends and strangers alike, publicly and in private, of spreading false information. This is untrue. I’ve worked extremely hard over the last few weeks to make sure that UMass hockey fans were as informed as possible to what was going on with their team. I believe I did that and stand by everything I reported.
It has also been suggested that the very existence of Fear The Triangle exacerbated the the public relations nightmare that UMass hockey went through during this process. That’s not the case. The most damaging events, reports of offers to coaches and their subsequent refusals, were never first reported by FTT. Though I may have known of such events, I never reported them on FTT until they were reported by true media organizations. The only news ever revealed on FTT was that of interviews and prospective candidates. Maybe I did relay a lot of bad news coming from the search that did not paint UMass or those involved in the search in a good light, but FTT was created to be a central source for all news relating to the program, not just the good stuff. Damaging coverage was not of my making.
Lastly, I’ve been accused, again by friends and strangers alike, of having some kind of agenda against John McCutcheon or the athletic department. This is false. My agenda is for UMass hockey to be successful. That’s it. Athletic directors will come and go, as will coaches. But UMass hockey will still be here and I’ll be here as well, fiercely supporting it. I did my best to further my pro-UMass hockey agenda and will continue to do what I can to make sure the program has what it needs to succeed at the highest levels, even if that means calling for better leadership at the cost of some of my existing relationships with people around the program. Go UMass.