This past summer was a strange one in college hockey, in that not a single coach was fired. All but one of the 59 head coaches from last season are back for this season. That's unlikely to be the case at this time next season. A few college hockey coaches enter this season in a position where they need to have a very good year, or they could be looking for a new job this summer.
Here's a look at five coaches that are likely beginning this season on the hot seat.
1. Mike Eaves, Wisconsin
This one is beyond obvious. Eaves led the Badgers to just four wins last season, by far the worst result in school history, and things don't look much better for this coming season. Eaves had to jettison both assistant coaches after last season to save himself. The damage done to the program in recent years may be beyond repair without a change at the top though .
Hockey has clearly been a distant third priority under Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez behind football and basketball. But even he will likely take notice when the poor results start affecting attendance. Crowds at the Kohl Center were bad last year. This year, they could be apocalyptic as interest in the program hits an all-time low.
2. Tom Anastos, Michigan State
Anastos is entering his fifth season as head coach at Michigan State with his only NCAA tournament appearance coming in his first season at the helm. He took a step forward last season, leading Michigan State to a winning record, but expectations are much higher for a program with the history of Michigan State. Players recruited by Anastos are now upperclassmen so there's really no more excuses for not being in the NCAA tournament hunt.
It's still tough to tell how much of the blame falls to Anastos though. There are certainly many advantages working in the favor of a school the size of Michigan State. But the hockey program has fallen into the same trap plaguing much of the rest of their conference where hockey is an afterthought behind football and basketball. Look no further than Michigan State completing a $3+ million renovation to their 13-year-old basketball offices this summer while the aging Munn Arena got renovations making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and a ridiculous plan to paint the rink's blue lines green to see where the school's priorities lie.
3. Seth Appert, RPI
Appert is beginning his tenth season at RPI. He faces a double-whammy of pressure in that he hasn't won a lot of games at RPI, while Capital District rival Union has been extremely strong, including winning a national title in 2014.
Appert is a strong recruiter and it looked like had the program on the upswing when he posted a winning season in his fourth year and led the team to an NCAA tournament appearance in his fifth season, but they haven't been back to the tournament in the four seasons since, including last year's disappointing 12-win season.
4. John Micheletto, UMass
UMass is a tough place to win games. In 21 seasons in Hockey East, the Minuteman have had a losing record 17 times, while making the NCAA tournament only once. But Micheletto hasn't exactly done much to change that historical trend in his three seasons. His best season to date was his first, when the team won just 12 games.
Expectations aren't any brighter for the upcoming season. Two of the team's top players, Frankie Vatrano and Brandon Montour both signed NHL contracts--a decision partially based on academics for both--leaving the cupboard looking bare again. The Minutemen were picked to finish in last place in Hockey East again and another miserable season might make it the right time for the school to try a new direction.
5. Jim Madigan, Northeastern
Northeastern is another school that hasn't had much success in Hockey East historically. Madigan has made the Huskies competitive in Hockey East thanks to some strong recruiting, but the Huskies have faltered late in the season each of the past two years, turning potentially promising seasons into forgettable ones, including stunning Hockey East playoff series losses each of the past two years.
Madigan has also been suspended twice by Hockey East for his behavior towards officials.