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MacDonald Joins UMass Coaching Staff

With Red Gendron officially joining Yale over the weekend, it didn’t take long for his replacement to become official.  The university announced today that former Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald will be joining the Minutemen as an assistant coach.  As readers know, both moves have been in the works for a while since first being reported by USHR last month.

Let me repeat what I wrote when this was all originally reported,  and that’s to thank Coach Gendron for his contributions to UMass hockey.  If there has been one aspect of the program that I’ve thought has consistently been good year in and year out it has been recruiting, and Red has been a big part of that.  He has also been a great ambassador of the program and friendly and approachable towards all who follow the program.  I wish him well in the future, however considering he possesses two Stanley Cup rings and an NCAA championship it’s clear that success will seek him out.

Dick Baker has a good post covering both Gendron moving on and MacDonald’s hiring where Red cites Yale’s quality program, his longtime relationship with Bulldog coach Keith Allain, and the opportunity to be an associate head coach as his reasons for leaving.  Also likely a motivation is the job security that comes with a coaching job in the Ivy League (*coughdonatocough*) compared to the situation here at UMass where it’s likely Toot Cahoon will be retiring sometime in the next few years.  Still, Coach Gendron will be missed.

Regarding the hiring of MacDonald, I think it’s a good move.  You don’t often get the chance to add someone with extensive head coaching experience to staff.  Frankly, I wasn’t surprised that his tenure at Lowell ended this spring after a number of seasons where his teams underperformed.  However, throughout his time at Lowell I always admired the job he did recruiting.  Despite not always having the best facilities or even much support from school administration at times he consistently brought in quality classes.  I would argue his recruiting classes were as good, if not better, than UMass’ in the last few years.  The program shouldn’t lose anything by putting him in the lead assistant role.

So MacDonald is obviously well-qualified for this position.  The only reservation I have is whether this would’ve been a good opportunity to bring in a  dynamic young assistant to groom for when Toot retires.  Would such a thing be plausible however?  Perhaps not.  Maybe it would be better for such future candidates to gain deeper head coaching experience at other levels of hockey.  I guess just as long as we truly get an open and aggressive search when it does come time to fill the head coaching position, versus taking the easy route to just hand it off to someone familiar, I’ll be happy.

It’ll be interesting to see if UMass picks up any commitments in the next few weeks of recruits who maybe were preparing to commit to Lowell before the made their coaching change.

Obi Aduba has resigned with Quad City Mallards of the CHL (who barely escaped death this offseason).  He’ll also be attending training camp for the Springfield Falcons this fall.

Greg Mauldin is one of the featured coaches for the Junior Bruins summer camp this year, his team before coming to UMass.  I believe that Colin Shea is also working at the camp.

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5 Comments

  1. The one thing that Coach MacDonald did very well at Lowell was recruit, not a question in my mind. A few of us met with him the day he took the job with Lowell, and I think the common theme after the meeting was that he could sell ice to eskimos. He’s got a great personality, very optimistic, and those things can’t hurt in a recruit’s house. He’s also big on academics (his record with that is easily proven by looking at the All-Academic teams the past few years, which is another plus. I know I wish him the best … but not against us of course. 🙂

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  2. George

     /  July 20, 2011

    That assistant to be groomed was Red Gendron. I think he got sick of waiting and the last Toot extension probably had him looking. Despite the long extension, I think a third tour of Mark Dennehy would not be out of the question. There is no such thing as a decade long extension at Merrimack :).
    I wonder how Coach Q feels about continually be hopped over for the #2 spot?

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    • Yeah. Despite all his success, I think Red had a couple problems. One being his age. A lot of ADs want to look for someone very long term. The second being no head coaching experience at the DI level, though you would think his time with the Albany Riverats would be enough to counter that. I thought for sure Red would’ve been hired at one of the openings in the past few years but he wasn’t.

      When Toot retires I would take Dennehy in a second.

      I’m sure it’s not fun for Quesnelle to be passed over for the top assistant spot, but it’s tough to say Blaise isn’t the more qualified candidate. That said, Lenny seems to me to be an excellent assistant and I’m happy to have him. The combined experience of all of these guys, Buckley included, is flat out amazing.

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