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IT’S OVER: Micheletto Era Ends At Massachusetts

Minutes after I wrote in my weekend recap that there should be a coaching change in the coming days news broke that UMass coach John Micheletto has been fired by the university.  Matt Vautour was the first to break the news:

This should come as a surprise to no one, even Micheletto.  The reasons supporting a coaching change are numerous.  Micheletto went 39-88-13 in his four seasons, never winning more than 12 games in a season and unable to even match the 13 wins the team had the season before he took over.  The team finished last in Hockey East the past two seasons and the two conference wins in 2015-16 are the fewest in the history of the program.

While he inherited a number of NHL caliber players like Conor Allen and Conor Sheary when he arrived in Amherst he seemed unable to translate talent into wins.  Stubbornly trying to fit the players to his aggressive system only resulted in lopsided scores and unhappiness in the locker room.  While recruiting improved under his watch even stars like Frank Vatrano and Brandon Montour did not result in competitive hockey in Amherst.

The losing translated into many empty seats in the Mullins Center with the most recent two years’ attendance being the lowest for the program since the late 90s.  Fundraising for the program also took a hit with the Pond Club seemingly inactive for this entire season and its members scarcely found at games.

What doomed the Micheletto era at UMass?  It wasn’t helped that he was not the top choice for coach after the school parted ways with Toot Cahoon.  Former Athletic Director John McCutcheon made blunder after blunder in the resulting coaching search and finally settled on the career assistant at Vermont after being turned down from multiple other candidates.  I think once he arrived Micheletto misread the talent on the team he inherited and decided to blow it all up and try to build from scratch despite the fact that the team seemed to be trending in the right direction before he took over.  He implemented an insane system that seemingly did not require defense while making poor roster decisions like cutting Kevin Boyle who may end up winning Hockey East Goaltender of the Year for rival Lowell.

At the same time Micheletto made no attempt to engage the fanbase or the greater Amherst community.  Cahoon always got the benefit of the doubt, perhaps a bit too much, from the fans because he was so personable and was constantly accessible.  Micheletto was neither.  By my count he hosted just two meet and greets with fans/season ticket holders during his time at UMass with both coming in his first year.  After struggling to turn around the program fans were quick to turn on the coach since he had done little to build any kind of relationship with them.

The Micheletto era was an unfortunate one for UMass hockey.  He was brought in by the inattentive and some (me) would say incompetent McCutcheon who seemed to put very little thought or effort into the last coaching search.  Micheletto seems smart and was praised as an assistant but it didn’t take long to see that he wasn’t cut out to be a head coach.  His teams too often played sloppy and uninspired, his game strategies were flat out disasters, and his in game management resulted in a lot of second guessing.  Off the ice he seemed uninterested in the relationship-building that’s needed to be a head coach in the top league in Division I hockey.

UMass Athletic Director Ryan Bamford will now start a search to look for someone with all the above.  A complete hockey coach who motivates and teaches players, can find success on the ice, and can get fans in the stands and buying merchandise.  I’ve already put together my wish list of who I hope he reaches out to in this process.  The search may take some time as some candidates, be they head or assistant coaches, may still be active with their current teams.  The conference playoffs have only started and there are many weeks until college hockey ends with the Frozen Four in April.  But given his moves so far, especially with how quickly he took action following the season ending last night, UMass hockey fans should feel hopeful that Bamford will take this process seriously and will find a qualified leader for our beloved hockey program.  Today isn’t an end.  It’s a beginning.

Go UMass!

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31 Comments

  1. Enough

     /  March 6, 2016

    I was so excited, I put my comment on the BU recap!
    At least now Mick can watch Boyle next weekend vs BU!

    Like

  2. Mel

     /  March 6, 2016

    Cheers to Bamford for not letting things fester. Already off to a much better start than we were the last time around!

    Like

  3. RDW

     /  March 6, 2016

    #ALLRIGHT

    Like

  4. J. Kansanen

     /  March 6, 2016

    Amen, sir… definitely a new beginning for our beloved hockey program!

    Like

  5. Paul Sullivan

     /  March 6, 2016

    GREG BROWN – BC. We should have made a serious run at him last time, but we fumbled.

    Like

    • Extremely qualified. The sentiment is that he’s the heir apparent to Jerry York and isn’t interested in opportunities elsewhere. I’m not sure that’s true but that’s the rumor. Hopefully an inquiry is made at least.

      Like

  6. RDW

     /  March 6, 2016

    No one who was involved in the last coaching search should be allowed in the room and or discussions of the new coach. Please list the names of people involved the last time, so they can be excluded. Thankfully, McCutcheon and Kenney are gone, but eliminate the rest of them who are still around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think one of the major problems last time was McCutcheon didn’t really involve the committee at all. It was really just him and Rocko making the calls.

      Like

  7. Enough

     /  March 6, 2016

    Rocco should sit this one out.
    Seriously

    Like

    • Agreed

      Like

    • Anonymous

       /  March 7, 2016

      Rocko really sounds like part of the problem too. I hear a lot of blame going his way for the pond club pretty much dissolving. Obviously agree I really hope rocko has no input on coaching search.

      Like

  8. Anonymous

     /  March 6, 2016

    thank god

    Like

  9. Anonymous

     /  March 6, 2016

    We need a top tier college guy. I agree with all comments made so far

    Like

  10. Rex

     /  March 7, 2016

    Agreed on Rocko, I would love to see Bennett come here. Greg Brown would be awesome, but I gotta think he is waiting out York. Also if York were to leave in 2-3 years and Brown was here, I could see him going back to BC in a heartbeat. As for the program, would love to see Renyard continue to develop. Top end consistent goaltending is the quickest way to turn around a program. Thats the one thing I wont fault mich for, Boyle. By all accounts he was an awesome kid and at times talented, along with masterlerz but neither were consistent.

    Like

  11. Anonymous

     /  March 7, 2016

    renyard was phenomenal this weekend….that is a fact….highlight reel saves both nights

    Like

  12. umass fan

     /  March 7, 2016

    They should hire Tim Lovell. He’s a former alumni and has been very successful at the junior level

    Like

  13. Shane F. Walsh Sr.

     /  March 7, 2016

    The Walsh Family would just like to thank everyone involved with UMass and there hockey program. It is a great school with even better people. We will always be UMass fans and supporters. Best of luck to all again a sincere Thank You!! FTT keep writing your great and informative articles, you are the definition of a true UMass fan. Go UMass!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you and good luck to Shane Jr! He’s been exciting to watch these past four years.

      Like

  14. Rex

     /  March 7, 2016

    Good Luck to Shane wherever he goes! He was very fun to watch over the years and has a great family! Such nice people.

    Like

  15. Rex

     /  March 7, 2016

    Whats lovell doing now? he transferred from maine right?

    Like

    • Runs the Boston Advantage junior program. I don’t think that’s enough experience to be a DI head coach.

      Like

      • I know it was a long time ago, but didn’t Lovell arrive with heavy baggage? Also- what about the assistants- are they gone , too?

        Like

        • New coach will decide if assistants are retained. Miller was named interim head coach.

          Like

  16. Rex

     /  March 7, 2016

    I would agree there. Gotta go big with this hire.

    Like

  17. anonymous

     /  March 7, 2016

    Any reason why Miller was named interim instead of Gasparini? Was Gaspo let go as well?

    Like

    • Both are still currently on staff and the new coach will determine if they’re kept on.

      My guess of why Miller was named interim is because he has been a head coach previously (at the prep level).

      Like

  18. Anonymous

     /  March 7, 2016

    will Ortiz and Thomas pock

    Like

  19. anonymous

     /  March 7, 2016

    Makes sense, just didnt know if they view mich and gaspo as one and the same.

    Like

  1. Up To The Minute ▲ Bamford Comments On Micheletto Decision, Coaching Search | Fear The Triangle - UMass Hockey Blog
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