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View From Section U ▲ Potential Coaching Replacements

Ever since I wrote my piece stating that UMass needs to making a coaching change at the end of the season I’ve had many people ask who would be my potential candidates to lead the program to success.  There are a few prospects that immediately come to mind.  There are a few that I wish they had looked at the last time around when the coaching position was open in 2012 and either they weren’t interested, then Athletic Director John McCutcheon didn’t consider them, or the timing just wasn’t right for either side.  I’ve already heard a lot of suggestions from readers and fans on who should be considered and I’ve done my best to take them into account.

It seems increasingly likely that no move will be made until after the season.  Especially when considering that in the last 15 years of college hockey there’s only been two in-season replacements due to non-illness reasons and both came for reasons way beyond a poor record.  But that doesn’t mean that Athletic Director Ryan Bamford can’t be laying the groundwork for a coaching change now.  He can start to gather names for a search committee to assist him with the process and lend him expertise related to college hockey.  And he can begin gather a list of initial candidates he would begin to contact when the coaching change is made.  He could even begin to reach out to some of those candidates through back channels when appropriate.  Who would be on his list?  Only he knows.  But here is who would be on mine.  I’ve tried to group the candidates into different segments and I didn’t list them in any particular order.

Head Coaches
These are a few current head coaches around college hockey who would probably be worth exploring and may (or may not) have an interest in coaching in Hockey East.

Rick Bennett – Union
Bennett would seem to be a great fit for the UMass job.  The current coach at Union is in his fifth year there and has a career record of 109-54-25.  He took over the Dutchmen bench after then Union coach Nate Leaman left for Hockey East basement dwelling Providence (sound familiar?).  Bennett had been an assist at Union for the prior six seasons.  In his first year as head coach he led Union to the Frozen Four.  In his third year he won the national championship.  His teams haven’t done quite as well in the last two years, including this season to date, but he’s still been over .500 in both.  As a former Providence player and assistant coach he has ties to Hockey East.  And he’s a Springfield native, even playing his junior hockey with the Springfield ‘Pics.  Would he have any interest in going from a successful, but relatively small, school in the ECAC to a state university in Hockey East?  Who knows.  But it’s worth asking.

Rand Pecknold – Quinnipiac
Pecknold was offered the UMass job in the last go around and ended up turning down the position and turning it into an extension with Quinnipiac.  But I don’t think that should disqualify him from being considered this time around.  There were numerous stories that McCutcheon’s interview process was terrible and turned off a number of candidates (see Cavanaugh, Mike).  It was also widely reported that former coach Toot Cahoon was unhappy with the support he was getting from the athletic department and that potentially turned off candidates.  That was then and this is now and McCutcheon is busy destroying running an athletic department on the other coast and UMass thankfull has a new athletic director.  Ryan Bamford has energy and a vision and he may be able to convince Pecknold to take a second look at UMass.  It would be much tougher to pull Pecknold away from the Bobcats now though.  He has brought Quinnipiac to the NCAA tournament in the last three years and currently has them as the top ranked team in the country this season.  Still, like with Bennett, the prospect of coaching in Hockey East at a larger school may be something he’d desire.

Derek Schooley – Robert Morris
Schooley has turned Robert Morris into a consistently strong Atlantic Hockey Team.  He has been the coach for the Colonials since they moved to DI in 2004-05.  He has had a .500 or better record in the last five years straight.  Two seasons ago he led the program to its first ever NCAA appearance and last year captured the Atlantic Hockey title with a record of 24-8-5.  Currently the team is 15-7-4.  One thing to consider is that Schooley, who played hockey at Western Michigan, doesn’t really have any Eastern hockey experience other than one year as an assistant at Cornell.  Before becoming the head coach at Robert Morris he was an assistant at Air Force.

Current College Assistants
Jeff Cox of SBN College Hockey wrote this informative piece earlier this year on which current assistants could be considered as opportunities pop up.  Some of these coaches were already on my radar, but some were ones I weren’t as familiar with or didn’t know at all.  Using that piece and my own thoughts, here are my picks for potential candidates.

Albie O’Connell – Boston University
O’Connell has to be high on the list for any potential openings that come up this offseason.  The BU alum is currently an assistant for his alma mater under head coach David Quinn.  He’s known as an excellent recruiter and has had a big part in the top talent that has been coming to BU during the program’s recent resurrection.  Prior to that he was at Harvard and helped get commitments from a lot of the players that have hoisted Harvard to their current #7 ranking.  Before that he was an assistant under Greg Cronin at Northeastern when the program saw some success.  He’s also had assistant stints at Merrimack, Holy Cross, and Niagara.  Here’s a profile on O’Connell written by Cox last fall.

Bill Riga – Quinnipiac
If Pecknold isn’t interested in the UMass position, perhaps his first assistant would be.  Riga is a Lowell alum whose first job was an assistant in the EJHL.  Before working under Pecknold he was an assistant to Nate Leaman when they both were at Union.  Riga is credited with recruiting a lot of the talent that’s helping the Bobcats to their current lofty status in the polls.

UMass Ties
There are a couple of candidates that should be considered not only because they’re proven coaches in their own right but also have strong connections to the program.

Darren Yopyk – Minnesota Wild
Yopyk played for for former Minuteman coach Toot Cahoon while he was at Princeton.  He was captain for the Tigers his senior year and when he was done he came to Amherst to serve as a graduate assistant for the UMass hockey program.  He got his PhD from UMass and then moved on to Merrimack to work for former Minuteman assistant Mark Dennehy.  From there he headed west to the British Columbia Hockey League where he was the head coach of the Westside Warriors (coaching, among others, Kevin Boyle).  For the last five years he’s been employed as a scout for the Minnesota Wild while living in his native Alberta.  He interviewed for the head coach position at his alma mater of Princeton a couple years ago and some sources said was going to be named head coach until visa issues derailed the opportunity.  Everyone I’ve spoken to about Yopyk speak very highly of him.

Dean Stork – Jamestown Jimmies
Dean Stork played three years for the Minutemen and was captain of the squad in 1998-99 before turning pro at the end of his junior year.  A defenseman, he accumulated 13 goals and 17 assists over those three seasons.  His pro career included short stints in the AHL but mostly was limited to the ECHL.  He captained the Cincinnati Cyclones in 2003-04 and in 2005-06 he served as a captain and player-assistant coach for the Stockton Thunder.  He retired and took an assistant job with the Cyclones where he’d work for four seasons, with the Cyclones (and former Minuteman Will Ortiz) winning the league championship in his fourth year.  He was then named the head coach of the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors.  He made the playoffs in each of his first four years.  But after compiling a record of 201-131-28 in his five years there, and much to the dismay of the Greenville fans, he was let go.  After it looked like he was going to land a job coaching the Belfast Giants overseas he ended up taking a position building an ACHA (club hockey) team in Jamestown, North Dakota.  Stork doesn’t have any collegiate experience, other than what he’s doing currently at the club level, but is a proven coach and a former UMass captain.

Pro Assistants
It’s not often that pro assistants jump from the NHL to college hockey but it does happen once in a while.  Andy Murray at Western Michigan and Dave Quinn at BU are recent examples of pro assistants moving to the college ranks.

Joe Sacco – Boston Bruins
Sacco wasn’t really on my radar but a couple people have mentioned him as possibly being interested in a high profile college job.  Sacco, a former star for BU, is currently an assistant coach for the Boston Bruins.  Sacco moved into the coaching world after a long NHL career.  He was an assistant in the AHL for a few seasons before becoming head coach for the Lake Erie Monsters.  From there he was named head coach of the Colorado Avalance where he compiled a record of 130-134-30.  He was a Jack Adams finalist in 2009-10 when he led the Avs to a record of 43-30-9.  Certainly he’s proven as a top notch professional hockey coach.

Those are the eight candidates I personally would immediately call if (when?) the UMass position opens.  There are other very qualified individuals out there, each with their own pros and cons for the position.  But those are the eight that, from my viewpoint, should be contacted by Bamford to determine interest as soon as possible.  There are probably a few others in the hockey world that people think I’m missing.  I’ll address at least a couple of those.

First, I don’t think at this point Mike Cavanaugh could be pulled from his position at UConn where he’s done a great job of elevating the Huskies to, frankly, a position much better than the Micheletto-led UMass program.  And four years ago everyone wanted Mark Dennehy to be UMass’ coach.  While I love Dennehy and his contributions to UMass hockey, I didn’t put him on my list.  His teams just haven’t performed that well in recent years, as shown by Merrimack’s most recent swoon that sees them just a point ahead of UMass in the Hockey East standings.

For now UMass fans play the waiting game.  Waiting for the games each week.  Waiting to see how they’ll turn out.  Waiting for the end of the season.  And ultimately waiting and hoping for a change in leadership for the program to help make Massachusetts hockey competitive again.  Perhaps one of the people listed above will be the coach to do so.

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51 Comments

  1. George

     /  February 4, 2016

    Real good article FTT.

    I was following the ask the AD Tweet session last night. The one direct Q & A about the hockey program wasn’t a ringing endorsement for Mick. A ringing endorsement would be let’s let coach finish his contract and we’ll evaluate the situation. I think your if/when happens after the closeout game 2 of the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.

    I don’t mean to be naive, but when you buy out a coach (Mick for instance), don’t you have to figure in not only his staff/assistants, but any buy out to the school you’re grabbing him from? This might an expensive task. http://www.sbncollegehockey.com/ecac/2014/5/22/5742078/union-extends-rick-bennetts-contract

    Historically, it seems good college hockey coaches somehow find their ways back to their alma maters and with good reason and success (Bazin for one, Jerry York for another). In Rick Bennett’s case, it appears going back to PC isn’t going to happen in a while. But I wonder with successes like Bennett’s and Pecknold’s and the ECAC’s sudden accession, would this be considered a sideways move? I’m convinced the media markets and the facilities Hockey East offer are better than the ECAC, but I’m not convinced the league play is that much worse. It used to be, but the ECAC was right there with Hockey East this season (above .500).

    Joe Sacco is an interesting mention by you. I like that he and Bennett are Baystate guys.

    Buy low, sell high…I wouldn’t quit on Mark Dennehy. People here at our school begged a look at him before he extended at Merrimack. Now that his season looks vastly similar to ours, he’s fallen out of favor, as a candidate. There have been many rumblings that despite everything he has done to take a low rent palace like the dump in North Andover and lipstick it to death, he’s not getting and can’t get (read they can’t afford) some of the training equipment and facilities to attract the recruits he covets. I admire what they’ve done to that rink, especially since I sat in that ice box in the 90’s with my pals, but as a recruit, I’m going anywhere (okay maybe not Maine) but there, when you combine the wallet, facilities, media exposure and pure potential of the program. I would put him very high on the list. He has a tie to UMass like Yopyk, many similarities to him (actually vice versa), and the promotional energy that rivals and probably beats Toot Cahoon. Nothing has changed since the summer of discontent here and many peoples desire to get him back except I think he knows he’s hit the ceiling in North Andover. Darren Yopyk as his Associate Head Coach? Why not? Their relationship is well documented

    Mike Cavanaugh? No way. The fact you’d consider him means you view him as smart and savvy. That means until Bamford proves himself, the New England model on how to upgrade a sports program and it’s blueprint reside in Storrs, not Amherst.

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  2. Anonymous

     /  February 4, 2016

    will Ortiz for new England recruiting ties and thomas pock for European ties….both love umass…a dangerous coaching duo….great energy – the alums would love this combination…what do you think?

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    • Considering Pöck is actively playing still and last I heard Will Ortiz was working in finance, probably not.

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  3. Anonymous

     /  February 4, 2016

    I would love Bennett, although I think his contract is too big of an obstacle. The BU assistant would be my pick. Whomever they get, they HAVE to get someone with some ties to Massachusetts recruiting. I am not saying they need to get an Eichel, they obviously would never be able to, but the lower tier guys going to other schools out of state. Local players like Tyler Kelleher.

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  4. Lewd Ood

     /  February 4, 2016

    While I appreciate the undying passion and support you have for the Minutemen, before we start discussing replacement options for an opening that isn’t even available yet you need to consider two rather important details:

    1) We’re talking about a program that has had three — THREE — winning seasons in the 22 years it’s been back. This isn’t some masterpiece that’s gathered dust in the four years that Mick’s been in Amherst. It’s more like a reproduction Rockwell print that looks nice in an entranceway. The team has almost always stunk, regardless of the coach. Legendary Toot wasn’t a particularly good coach, and the way he left the program in a lurch after two bad seasons and zero recruiting before he walked out late in the off-season should poison any good will fans had towards him for the three decent seasons he actually led the team for. But before he left us in said lurch, he wasn’t exactly blowing up HE, either.

    Which leads me to…

    2) We’ll never be consistently good as long as we’re in HE. We just won’t. BU and BC are always going to be top-4, UNH & PC are generally going to be top-half of the league, and as long as Lowell keeps playing 1990s Devils trap hockey, they’ll probably stay top-half as well. I hate them, but it’s true. So that leaves us battling the likes of the zombified corpse of once-great Maine (blame Shawn Walsh for both their glory days as well as their ignominious downfall), Vermont (the team that probably never should have left ECAC), Boston’s red-headed step-child Northeastern, Merrimack and UConn. Not even gonna worry about ND, as they’re probably not long for HE anyway, but while they’re here they’ll always be tough to out-recruit based on $$$, facilities, the school’s rep, etc.

    The Eastern Mass teams will always dominate recruiting in that half of the state, which leaves us trying to find hidden gems or mine the junior/Canadian ranks, which Mick has done really well. In fact, you can argue that he’s done it too well, since his two best recruits both split after one year for pro $$$.

    So with that all in mind (not to mention the aging shared facility and comparatively puny salary), let’s dissect your wish list a bit.

    Bennett & Pecknold: Both would be insane to leave their current gigs, especially for UMass. Bennett built Union into a national champ, and Pecknold has the #1 team in the country, which plays in a brand new facility. Also, both play in a more balanced conference filled with Ivy schools that have stronger academic standards. Why would they ever consider leaving those gigs to come to a HE perennial also-ran???

    Schooley: Really? I don’t think it’s too hard to put together a few good years in Atlantic Hockey. Not really the most competitive of leagues. So if you’re cruising a long there you’re also not going to want to come here, of all places.

    O’Connell: He was at NE when they were being looked at for some shady dealings, and if the BU gambling mess plays out the way I’m thinking it might, I can see him being radioactive.

    Riga: Maybe, but he has the same pedigree as Mick so I really don’t see him as much of an “upgrade” if that’s what you’re looking for

    Yopyk: I’ve heard the visa issues are a recurring problem

    Stork: A club hockey coach? Yeah, even with his school ties I don’t see him even getting considered by a search committee.

    Sacco: He wouldn’t be able to stop laughing long enough to tell Bamford “No thank you” if he ever got that call. He’ll be coaching again in the NHL soon, maybe even next season.

    Anyway, I gotta say the whole point of this exercise is meaningless anyway. Primarily for the two reasons above, but also because it’s pretty horrible to talk about who’s going to replace a guy who stil has a year left on his contract. On top of that, Mick’s proven to be a hell of a recruiter, and a few bad circumstances have consistently put him and the team further behind the 8-ball (barren recruiting cupboard by Toot, bad locker room apples leftover when he got here, Vatrano’s transfer eligibility held up by York & HE, Montour’s arrival held up by issues, pro departures of Vatrano & Montour, Kravchenko & Lagesson’s injuries this season, etc.)

    While he’s in year four of his contract, he’s really only in year three of trying to get his system and players in place. This year’s been a stinker, but it started strong when we had our squad healthy. Playing a bazillion games against ranked opponents doesn’t make life easy, either, especially when our key players are hurt.

    So I’d rather not start digging a grave for Mick yet and begin courting potential replacements. I’d rather Bamford let him coach thru the end of his contract and make the decision at the end of next season. If we have all our players healthy next year and we still stink, fine, let him go. He’s a great guy, and I personally like the direction he’s trying to take the team, but if they need to let him go then so be it.

    But keep in mind that you’ll be looking at another 3-yr minimum reset on the program, if he is let go.

    Regardless, I think expectations need to remain tempered for whoever is coaching in ’17-’18, as I doubt someone is going to just walk in and magically turn this 20-yr old slug into a beautiful butterfly.

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    • Do people really think Toot “walked away and left the program in the lurch”? Do coaches who quit or retire get the remainder of their contract? No, coaches who are let go do. UMass wouldn’t have paid Cahoon if he just decided to hang it up. Why are people so obtuse about this? And yes, he really left the cupboard bare with players like NHLer Conor Sheary, Mike Pereira, Joely Hanley, NHLer Conor Allen, Oleg Yevenko, and team leading scorer Shane Walsh. Those have been some of the very best players of the Micheletto era. And he’s been able to do exactly nothing with them. He hasn’t even been able to match the win total from Cahoon’s last “bad” season. Can Mick hit double digit wins in year four? Doubtful. I don’t think anyone has thought of Toot as legendary. He brought UMass to a certain level of success and couldn’t maintain that level or bring them to the next. It’s very obvious what level Micheletto has brought UMass to. The lowest. The basement of Hockey East. Consistently. Remember that Toot never finished last in the league after 2001-2002. He wasn’t a legend, but he was competent.

      Micheltto has been a pretty good recruiter. But the best players he brings in don’t seem to want to play for him for very long. This year has been his best class by far and they were playing much better hockey in October, when they had very little instruction from Mick, than they are currently. With the exception of Shane Walsh, a Cahoon recruit, most players don’t seem to develop throughout the season under his watch. They regress.

      The injury excuse? Are we going to bring that up? The team has had a lot of injuries in January, but were at full strength in November and December. How did the team do then? Are we going to bring up the “played too many road games” excuse too? Because since Mick floated out that the November struggles were due to too many road games the team has won exactly ZERO games at home. ZERO. Even when they hosted last place Maine who hadn’t won on the road all year for two games last weekend. Zero wins. Zero. Are we going to bring up the “officials hate us” excuse next? Because the power play totals against Maine are not going to lend much credence to that one either. Tough schedule? Look at the KRACH. You’ll see UMass’ schedule has been exactly average this year in terms of SOS and certainly not much tougher than the rest of the conference. Oh wait, here’s the litany of Micheletto excuses here “(barren recruiting cupboard by Toot, bad locker room apples leftover when he got here, Vatrano’s transfer eligibility held up by York & HE, Montour’s arrival held up by issues, pro departures of Vatrano & Montour, Kravchenko & Lagesson’s injuries this season, etc.)”. Wow. Mick must’ve been born under the wrong sign or something. Can’t catch a break. Can’t win more than 35% of his games.

      Lowell and Providence will always be better than us? Did you just start watching Hockey East three years ago? Those teams regularly finished behind UMass, made coaching changes, and have found success.

      The coaches I listed are either unproven or would never think of coming to somewhere like UMass? Good thing you weren’t on the Providence search committee when they hired Nate Leaman. They were a doormat for a decade before that. Now? Well we saw what a good coach can do last April. But fine. None of those coaches will consider UMass. Let’s just hand the reins over to a career assistant who has never sniffed a head coaching job before. Oh wait, we already did that. No, with a real Athletic Director, one with vision and energy, I’d like to see him make a call to the coaches I listed and see what happens. Maybe they’ll turn things around in 2 years. Maybe four. But one thing is obvious. It literally cannot get any worse than it is right now.

      The Micheletto tenure has been nothing short of a disaster and the only people who think otherwise are on the UMass Athletics payroll or are opposing fans who enjoy the easy wins. He’s had his chance and he’s shown that he’s not cut out to be a head coach. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

      You speak of UMass’ 22 year tenure as an outside observer. Some of us have lived it and have had enough of this chapter. It’s time for a change.

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  5. Enough

     /  February 4, 2016

    Mrs Micheletto, you are embarrassing yourself

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  6. Enough

     /  February 4, 2016

    Thanks Rocks, excellent fact based response.
    Hopefully, you didnt hurt Mrs Michelettos feelings

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  7. Lewd Ood

     /  February 4, 2016

    No, not Mrs. Micheletto, but that is a pretty classy response, to what was what I tried to make a pretty level-headed comment. But that’s cool, just attack someone who thinks this eternally-mediocre program needs more than a four-year experiment of a coach before hitting the reset button (again).

    Yes, I am relatively new to UMass hockey on an up-close basis (since the last handful of Toot years). No, I am not related to Mick, though I am close to many in the athletic department and have known only good things to be said about Mick as both a man and a leader to the kids. I’m a lifelong fan of an ECAC team that had great success followed by many years of mediocrity before a recent resurgance. But I also went to a Hockey East “power,” and have been around HE since the mid ’90s.

    I stand by everything I said in my comment regarding HE hierarchy. I never said we couldn’t “be” good. I’m just saying that an expectation to turn around a moribund program that has NEVER been anything of note takes time. Lots of time. I don’t care if the ghost of Herb F’ing Brooks waltzes into Mullins, he’d still need time to get everything in place to get us to respectability. And he would still be recruiting against the HE powers (not to mention the traditional midwestern “power” programs, and of course, the CHL – say “hello,” Alex DeBrincat).

    Regarding the players you credit being recruited by Toot – they were almost all recruited by Red, who left a year before Toot split (and went on to what kind of success recruiting with Yale, by the way???). So there was a whole year with Blaise who only had a year to recruit before Toot skedaddled and killed year 2. So yeah, there was effectively a TWO-YEAR gap of recruiting. And what did that leave Mick with? Steve Mastelarz???

    I’ve followed FTT since I got to UMass, because FTT is one of the only consistent voices commenting on the program. I understand your frustration with the performance of the team. But you’ve also been all over Mick pretty much since he first took over the bench. And it’s illogical to blame 23 years of mediocrity on the dude that’s been in charge for the last 3.5. Vent, sure, but do it within reason.

    Toot leaving was a surprise, for everyone. There were issues behind the scenes that led to him walking away. In the end it became a mutual agreement to let him go, but it was by no means a planned departure. The university was pretty much completely blindsided by him walking out. He was not fired. It was a very bad situation, very late in the off-season, compounded by a completely jacked-up search process that led to the school dealing with a thin candidate pool. Mick was the best of the bunch and signed a contract offered to him by the school. The school should at least honor that contract considering the ever-loving $#!+-show the dude walked into.

    You bring up PC a couple of times and point to their recent success, but I would actually rest most of that success on one person: Jon Gillies. Not sure if he was a Leaman or Tim Army recruit but regardless, I’d wager that without that one key player they would have been in a different situation. And that’s the nutty thing about college hockey – one player, especially a goalie, can completely change your fortune. We had two potential fortune-changers last year (well, one of them for half the year), and they left for the pros. But when your key players leave one year and then your next two key players get hurt the following year, that *does* make a difference. And for the love of all things holy, don’t come back at me with “Kevin Boyle,” because my mom could play goal behind a neutral zone trap and have a 2.15 GAA. If you want Mick to coach a trap, say so, but he wants an offensively-engaged D, and he’s building that system.

    Look, UMass isn’t Michigan, we’re not even Penn State or even UConn (sorry, but in terms of athletics we just aren’t). We have terrible state funding, get looked at side-eyed for all athletics expenses by taxpayers, media and legislators alike, and are the bastard stepchild public university in a state filled with prestigious private universities (that produced almost all of the state’s legislators other than Rosenberg) and pro teams that get all of the attention of the sports world. I’ll need to look it up, but I would wager that in-terms of state schools, our hockey program’s funding is more on-par with Michigan Tech, the directional Michigans, and Lake Superior State. On top of that, hockey is third banana here (maybe fourth if Title IX $$$ puts Women’s Hoops above hockey). That means something. Regardless of the dedication by fans like you (and me, even), the $$$ issue means something.

    Honestly, here’s where I see a lot of the basis of the frustration: I have a feeling FTT and I are probably about the same age. Old enough where we were kids when the B’s, Sox, Pats and Celtics were pretty good in the mid ’80s. The ’90s (when UMass hockey came back) were filled with textbook mediocrity, and then *boom* Pats start winning titles, Sox start winning titles, Celtics start winning, B’s win a Cup and make another finals. On top of that, BC and BU get back to dominating. And then we have to swallow the bitter pill of PC, Lowell, Quinnipiac and (a couple of years ago) even Merrimack being succesful. And seeing all of this success makes UMass fans wonder “why not us?” Well, sure, it would be nice, but there are real hurdles that need to be overcome.

    The money, the time gap between Toot waltzing away and Mick trying to get rolling, the location of the place. These are actual issues. But with time I think a good coach can overcome them and get this program on the right track. Is Mick the guy? Maybe, maybe not. But to shove him out the door before his contract is up, and after only three real years of being fully in-charge (that first year is a total write-off), well, I just don’t think it’s right. Like I said, if they don’t re-up him after next season, so be it. Fare-thee-well, and all. But the fact remains your list of potential coaching replacements are a bunch of pipe dreams and further bad bets, and we shouldn’t even bother speculating until Bamford makes a decision on this all, anyway.

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    • Do you really want to “write off” Mick’s first year? Because it’s been his best one by far. The team made up entirely of players he did not recruit went 12-19-3. Since then? 8 wins, 11 wins, and probably 9 wins at most this year. If we throw out that first year his career record is 26-61-10. A .320 winning percentage. The man has coached over 130 games at UMass, his record speaks for itself. If the team was trending in the right direction it would be one thing, but you could argue the team is currently playing its worst hockey during his tenure. One win in the last 19 games. One. In overtime against the team in third to last place in Atlantic Hockey. The university deserves a better hockey team than that. They deserve a better coach than that.

      Do you really think things are going to turn around next year? The team loses its best and most consistent scorer. I would guess they’ll lose anywhere from one to up to four underclassmen. The draft picks aren’t going to want to stay here and endure another season like this. Their NHL clubs won’t want them to either. Who’s going to pick up the scoring slack? Here are the goal totals in juniors for the recruits that could come in next year: 6, 10, 12, 0, 0, 8, 9, 5. There are no Plevys in that class. There are no Keats (who has yet to find success at this level). Where do the goals come from? How do they keep the puck out of the net? Even highly touted NHL talent level defensemen and an award winning goaltender haven’t been able to keep UMass from having one of the worst goals against in the country. Again. That changes next year? Why? How?

      It won’t. We know what Micheletto is. A nice guy perhaps. A sharp mind for hockey. A good recruiter. A career assistant. Not a head coach. No need to delay the inevitable.

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  8. Anonymous

     /  February 5, 2016

    Let me say this,
    I’m a student here at UMass but I’m from Lowell, and I have personally seen the effects a good coaching hire can have on a hockey program.

    Honestly, I had no interest in UML hockey before Bazin was hired, and I’m a hockey player/fan. They weren’t good, (except in ’09) and going to a game was sadly, very similar to watching a game in Amherst now: boring and/or disheartening. Since Bazin was hired, not only did UML have they biggest turnaround in D1 college hockey history, they have shown year after year that they are one of the best in the conference, if not the nation. Not to mention, the Tsongas Center has become one of the best environments to watch a college hockey game in the Northeast.

    Anyway, I realize the chances of that happening here are unlikely because that kind of thing just doesn’t happen too often, but my point is that since Bazin was brought in, the program, (and entire school for that matter) has transformed from a joke into a powerhouse. Now I’m not trying to brag about UML here, just trying to point out the similarities between UMass and UML pre-Bazin. I think if the right coach is found, UMass hockey can follow a similar path as the Riverhawks did.

    As far as the coaching candidates listed, I agree with some aspects that have already been mentioned. I don’t think there is any chance Rick Bennett, Rand Pecknold, or Joe Sacco leave. All are in good positions now and I don’t see them wanting to come here. I don’t know much about the other candidates but if I could choose from the coaches above it would be either Schooley are Yopyk.

    Robert Morris is really the only legit team from Atlantic Hockey, (beat UML this year) and Schooley is the main reason for it. I would be interested to see how he would handle a much bigger school and much better conference, but in general, I think that’s a solid choice.

    Yopyk’s biggest asset would be his prior experience with UMass. Like somebody already mentioned, it seems alumni have good track records coaching their old schools, and he would probably have a much better relationship with the boosters/community so I think he should definitely be considered because of that.

    I do think a coaching change is necessary because like it or not, the hockey program is in shambles. Although the possibility always exists that a coaching change won’t do anything, that can’t be the only reason not to make a change. If nothing else, new life would be instilled into the program and bring some excitement, even if for a short while, that the program clearly needs. Mick has undoubtedly tried to turn this team around but it’s obvious at this point,he just isn’t the right man for the job. Being one of the newest followers of UMass hockey, I want to see this team do well because it has so much potential to do so. I’m confident that if UML can turn their hockey program around with a new coach, so can the Minutemen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love to hear from the students. We’re going to need support like this from the students if we want UMass to have a successful hockey program.

      Like

  9. Enough

     /  February 5, 2016

    Mrs Micheletto, you cant be serious.
    You will not give Bazin or Leaman any credit for what they have done, and you will not hold Mick responsible for the mess that we have been watching.
    You say that Bazin plays a trap? Not sure if thats true but at least it would illustrate a coach who is willing to change strategy based on who he is playing against. One of Mick’s many flaws is that he refuses to change his “style”. First it was because Toots guys couldnt play his crazy “five guys on offense system “, which creates odd man rushes for the opposition all night long. Then it was a litany of excuses as to why the losses continued to pile up as the team became his guys. I was at Micks first game against BC in 2012. UMass was leading 3-0, then BC figured out what we were trying to do and won the game 5-4. His system has not changed since, which is why you see so many blow outs. He is arroagant, he thinks he is the smartest guy in the room, and now he has been exposed.

    You will not give Boyle and credit, even though folks who know say he is one of the best goalies in the country. He has 6 shutouts, a 0.938 save %, 1.67 GAA.

    Naturally, UMass has zero shutouts, a 4.38 GAA, and is 2-11-4.
    In Toots years we had Weiner, Quick, Dainton, and Boyle, all legit goalies. We have not figured out that position in 4 years, but I suppose thats Toots fault too.
    Dont whine about players leaving early, when you dont recruit students, they dont stay, especially if they are good players.
    Bazin is 97-47-13 at Lowell, has made the tournament , and is a legit team every year, Leaman is 79-58-19, has made the tourney the last 2 years, winning it last year.

    UMass has been steadily worse each year that Mick has been in charge. The attendance is down, the alumni have abandoned the program, the newspapers dont cover the games, this program is at its lowest point.
    I anticipate Bamford making hockey important, his hire of the next coach will say a lot about his philosophy as an AD. There are quality candidates out there who would love to a Hockey East school. Cavanaugh didnt like what he heard at UMass and pulled his name out. He must have heard something completely different at UConn to get him to leave BC.

    I wish you the best Mrs Micheletto, know ill will here. All the data proves that this program is in a shambles and Mick needs to take responsibility. Without data, you are just another hockey wife with an opinion.
    Unless you subscribe to the theory that even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then, I expect to witness another blowout tonight.
    I expect to see both goalies that Mick thought would be better than Boyle tonight.

    Go Umass

    Like

  10. Anonymous

     /  February 5, 2016

    any support for this current coach is total madness….mix that support with the negative input re: umass as a whole = a person who should leave this site permanently…that attitude is a defeatist/loser attitude. I have been around New England hockey this season and actually witnessed people laughing at umass hockey….that is tough to take….we are a long way from the nov. 2011 game where umass beat # 1 bc 4-2 at a packed house mullins center (and bc went on to the ncaa title that season)….no one was laughing at umass that night….nor were they laughing nov. 2008 when we beat # 1 bu 5-1….at least Cahoon showed he could beat the “big boys” of hockey east….and to some other points above, for many seasons Lowell and pc were at the bottom of hockey east and did not even qualify for the hockey east playoffs under the old format….the UMASS student body has shown a love of hockey and will pack the house for a competitive team. The athletic director needs to bring that aspect back to the students and some pride back to the alumni.

    Like

    • Anonymous

       /  February 5, 2016

      The packed Mullins against the Boston teams were awesome. Mich has ditched the whiteouts for dress like a seat night, or the all too common maroon out.

      Like

  11. Anonymous

     /  February 5, 2016

    I have heard through pretty reliable sources Mich and Gaspo have turned into complete pricks and the players cannot stand them. Its asinine that they wont change their system. I dont understand how either can be arrogant but that’s not really the point. The bottom line is that the players have given up on their coach and I really cant blame them. I dont care if you are Jerry York, if you stop getting through to your players its time to go.

    Love or hate Toot, his players never gave up like this. I was in the Red camp when he was applying for the job. I dont buy that others wont want to come here. With these facilities, if Bamford can offer more money and really sell that he is all in on hockey which I believe he is, I think we could get a great candidate here.

    Lastly, I really dont get how Lewd is saying Mich hasnt had enough time. Enough with the excuses already. Maybe if he ran a more realistic system and had some sort of success, NHL teams wouldnt be pulling their guys outta here so quick.

    Like

  12. Anonymous

     /  February 5, 2016

    uscho stated today umass will not earn another hockey east point the rest of the season….that has not been stated since the opening years of the program

    Like

  13. Enough

     /  February 5, 2016

    NU could have Hedges back by then.
    If you cant beat Maine at home this year, I am not betting the rent on beating NU.
    Their goalie has been playing solid, thats where it all starts

    Like

    • Not saying they’re not a good team. Just saying they’re not unbeatable.

      Like

      • Enough

         /  February 5, 2016

        I’m with you rocks.
        I was at the game tonight.
        NU is beatable, just not by the Minutemen unfortunately.
        Better days ahead, it really can’t get worse than this, can it?

        Like

        • Lewd Ood

           /  February 6, 2016

          When I said Mick’s 1st year was wasted, I meant as a recruitung year. He was basically down almost two whole years of recruits when he got here. Sure he still had good leftovers to work with, but he really was not set up in a good place coming out of the gate.

          Just one more quick thing, and I sincerely do appreciate you guys all letting me say my piece, even though I’m sure we’ll all agree to disagree on the ‘Mick’s last year’ situation.

          I decided to do a quick Herald salary lookup on Mick vs. Bazin, and just as I expected, Bazin is paid almost 50% more than Mick (going by 2014 #’s). Mick makes $237k/yr. Not chicken feed, I know, and to Joe Lunch Pail that’s certainly damn good money, but Bazin’s making like $350k. Now, I don’t know if that includes any performance bonuses from 2013-14 when they went to the F4, but that’s a hell of a difference.

          I also want to make sure everyone realizes that hockey is THE priority sport at Lowell, and that the move to D1 in all other sports there was built around hockey. They also don’t have football to worry about. So, when they went courting coaches, they were certainly able to dangle a nicer carrot than we probably ever will be able to since hockey is, as I said, fourth banana here.

          Anyway, like I said, regardless of whether you think Mick should stay or go, all I want is for eveyone to understand the reality of the situation here has a whole lot of layers to consider, and that you need to look beyond the W/L/T column before deciding that we need to blow up the program again so quickly.

          PS – Beside the few bad minutes by Dill in net tonight, I thought the boys played well today against yet another ranked opponent. I think it’s obvious by the way these kids play they still have not given up, and I think that is also a testament to both the types of kids Mick’s brought in and the dedication the kids have to the program. Go UMass…

          Like

          • That’s Bazin’s salary from the extension he got after taking them to the Frozen Four. His first contract had his salary around $210K. Gendron is making $205K while Cavanaugh is making $200K.

            Dick Umile and Kevin Sneddon both make in the $240Ks.

            Mick got a pretty sweet deal for his first contract compared to them. At the end of this year he’ll have made nearly $1 million dollars coaching UMass hockey. That’s about $23K for each of the 40 career wins he’ll like be up to at that point.
            Last night the team was fully healthy and at home and found themselves down 3 goals five minutes into the game. How in the world is that acceptable? Does Mick bear no responsibility or did he just get some more bad bounces of the puck? How much more do you have to see to realize he’s not cut out for this?

            Like

          • Enough

             /  February 6, 2016

            I don’t thhink Mrs Micheletto is really a umass fan. She is just posting foolish messages. I was at the game, every BU rush was a jailbreak.
            The first 5 minutes were comical. Are you saying if we paid Mick $350k he would be a better coach, the team wouldn’t quit on him? You get what you pay for. Mrs Micheletto, you can’t fire him, but we can. Find a realtor

            Like

  14. Flag Guy

     /  February 7, 2016

    **Grabs Popcorn** …..

    I still go back to comments like one of my work contacts who’s son is getting recruited for Hockey East schools right now. He says “my son will never play at UMass, too much risk, too many bad thoughts around the coach from players that he has played with in the past, and by the time he gets there, the coach will not be the same coach”

    Even if Mick stays through the end of his contract, I bet a lot will be jumping ship or not signing on in the next season because they can see he has one foot out the door and by the time the recruits get here, theres a good chance it will be two.

    While I am a fan of a coaching change, I do not envy the one who has to front the bill for Mick sitting at home for a whole season. I’m sure our dwindling booster base doesn’t want to own that financial burden either. I will surely not be donating to the Fire Mick campaign with any of my own money.

    On the plus side: At least we made playoffs this year!………..

    Like

    • There’s financial burden either way. The buyout obviously costs money. But at the same time the lost ticket and concession revenue and drop in donations causes a financial burden as well. It’s more of a cash flow problem.

      Like

  15. Anonymous

     /  February 8, 2016

    How are any of these recruits this year agreeing to come here? They HAVE to know mick is gone after this year.

    Like

  16. Plevy's Mullet

     /  February 8, 2016

    UMass student here, there really is no other option at this point. To Flag Guy’s point if Mick doesn’t go this year then recruiting will suffer even more then it would with a new coach in the mix. If he isn’t replaced this year then he is guaranteed to be gone the following and that will only perpetuate the problem for another year.

    I know first hand that the students are more than willing to show up for games if the team can prove to be effective. This was demonstrated with the basketball team’s run in 2014 (even the Wednesday afternoon games were packed). But if you give a student the option to watch the hockey team pick up their 10th straight loss or go out on a Friday night that’s a pretty simple choice. I’ve gone to probably 75% of the home games this year and finally had to tap out after the Maine losses.

    I never thought I’d miss waiting outside of Mullins in the snow for a big game, but I know that if Mick finishes out his contract I certainly will never get that opportunity again. But, I have faith that with a connected guy like Bamford at the helm he will see that the team has indeed quit on Mick and that we need to get Mullins rockin again.

    Go UMass!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Anonymous

     /  February 10, 2016

    Rocks,
    Thought you hung up the skates but glad u didn’t. Always found you honest and true to the game and the players. Just my two cents that Micheletto gets what is deserved. In my opinion he’s a pompous ass that deserve what he gets. It’s called Kharma and it tends to come back at some point. My Nephew got screwed by him a couple years ago and so glad to see he is doing well in his new home with the Riverhawk nation. Sometimes when people think they are above others and programs they get their just desserts. Thanks for your positive comments on him lately and granted it’s not only his improvement as a player but a great coach and more talent surrounding him. By this point it’s obvious who I am talking about. Keep going Rocks it’s always a good read. Just to say an Uncle who loves the game and very happy with the results.

    Like

  18. Rex

     /  February 12, 2016

    I think I speak for a lot of Umass fans who are extremely happy for the success Boyle is having. From all accounts he was a nice kid, and his parents were two of the nicest ppl i have ever met.

    Like

  19. Anonymous

     /  February 14, 2016

    Uuu

    Like

  20. Anonymous

     /  February 14, 2016

    Oh the things I could tell you about the program.

    Like

  21. Enough

     /  February 15, 2016

    What he did to Boyle was brutal. Tegler and Teglia too. Why did Conor Allen leave.
    Bad coach, bad guy, goodbye

    Like

  22. Anonymous

     /  February 15, 2016

    Same reason montour and vatrano left. I know for a fact if john and joey were not here…they would be. Fact. Not good people.

    Like

    • Rex

       /  February 25, 2016

      I could spill the same beans, heard terrible things about Joey G and mich. They are just pricks who dont wanna be there and do not care at all.

      Like

  23. Anonymous

     /  February 24, 2016

    Is it #FireMick day yet?

    Like

  24. Anonymous

     /  March 3, 2016

    james marcou

    Like

  25. Anonymous

     /  March 6, 2016

    All good commentary and thought. I think we need to go after character and guys that are highly respected. Mark Dennehy and Greg Brown merit serious consideration. Mark built the team up with no resources and Greg Brown has a a history of making good players into great ones. When was the last time we had elite level talent or put another way, what is our pipeline?

    Like

    • Dennehy is a great person and coach, but his recent season at Merrimack worry me. I am open to him as a coach here though. Brown is always labeled as York’s successor so I’m not sure he’d be interested.

      Like

      • Ben

         /  March 22, 2016

        “Dennehy is a great person and coach, but his recent season at Merrimack worry me.”

        He is what he is at Merrimack. What more do you want him to do there? Two seasons ago, really could have got him cheap. What was wrong this past season? Host first round, win, lose a couple of skinny games to the defending National Champs in their house next round. Well liked, well respected, local. Sounds like a lot of things many like about Rick Bennett. If Bamford is the real deal and can offer him what Merrimack can’t, I would think there would be a lot of up side.

        Like

        • I personally wouldn’t have a problem with Dennehy. I have a lot of respect for him, in terms of what he did at UMass as well as what he’s done at Merrimack despite all the challenges there.
          But the fact is his last three years have not been good. He has gone 37-59-14 in that time. What was wrong with this past season? The fact that the team went 13-19-7 and won just 5 of their last 25 regular season games. That is concerning, do you not agree?
          Again, I personally wouldn’t have a problem with Dennehy. But Bamford has not been watching Hockey East as closely as I have and doesn’t know him from his prior UMass stint. This is Bamford’s first major decision. Do you think he’s going to make the case that his choice to turn around UMass hockey last had a winning season in 2011-12? I can’t see it.

          Like

  26. Anonymous

     /  March 7, 2016

    Rocks – Welcome back my man. These guys shoulld be in the mix to at least give us the confidence that they have done a real search.. I am not a big fan of pro guys coming in to college. never seems to work

    Liked by 1 person

  1. IT’S OVER: Micheletto Era Ends At Massachusetts | Fear The Triangle - UMass Hockey Blog
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  4. View From Section U ▲ FTT Hockey East Postseason Awards | Fear The Triangle - UMass Hockey Blog
  5. Up To The Minute ▲ Dennehy, Pearl, Shafer Interview At UMass | Fear The Triangle - UMass Hockey Blog
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