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Hockey East: Ranking the last 6 coaching changes

Providence College head coach Nate Leaman
Providence College head coach Nate Leaman
Matt Dewkett

When determining the success or failure of a coaching change, the quickest and easiest stats to look at are championships, wins and losses, and post-season appearances.

Excluding Mike Cavanaugh who was hired at UConn while that program was still in Atlantic Hockey, there have been six new coaching hires in Hockey East since the start of the 2011-12 season.

With all signs pointing towards regime change in Amherst, it seemed like a good time to look at the success, or lack thereof, of the last six coaching hires in Hockey East.

It's hard to argue against Nate Leaman being the best hire of the group. He inherited a program that had finished last or second to last three consecutive seasons, missing the league playoffs in all three. He quickly turned the Friars around, making it to the TD Garden for the Hockey East semifinals in his first year. In year two, the 2012-13 season, Providence posted its first winning season since 2005-2006. A year later, the Friars were back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001. Then, this past season, Providence won its first NCAA Championship in school history.

Norm Bazin took over a similarly disastrous situation in Lowell. The River Hawks won just five games overall en route to a last place finish in 2010-11 before Bazin's arrival from Division III Hamilton College. The UML alum led the team to a tie for second place and a 19-win improvement in his first season. It was the start of three consecutive appearances in the national tournament, including a berth in the 2013 Frozen Four. Bazin's tenure has also coincided with a renewed focus on funding the program like a Division I sport at the school. The lack of recruiting success compared to Providence certainly puts some question marks on the possible longevity of success, but the philosophy has worked so far.

Jim Madigan was other coach hired prior to the 2011-12 season, and the Huskies have certainly had their ups and downs since the 1986 alum of the school took over. His hiring was met with great skepticism, given he had been out of coaching for two decades, having served in the school's fundraising wing while scouting part-time. While Madigan inherited a program more accustomed to winning in recent memory, there was no shortage of tumult to the transition due to questions surrounding Greg Cronin's departure amid minor NCAA rules infractions. For as much grief as Madigan has received during his tenure, this year's Huskies appear on pace to finish at .500 or above for the third straight season. Two consecutive brutally slow starts coupled with multiple suspensions for arguing with the men in stripes have are ammo for the Madigan detractors.

The John Micheletto era at Massachusetts has been an unmitigated disaster from the very beginning. Former UMass AD John McCutcheon was publicly rebuked by three potential hires before he went for the safe choice in the then UVM assistant. The Minutemen appear all but guaranteed of a second consecutive last place finish. Micheletto's teams have never finished higher than second to last during his four years occupying the corner office at the Mullins Center. Even off the ice, Micheletto has made some decisions that have left him open to questioning, including cutting now UMass Lowell starting goaltender Kevin Boyle and current Quinnipiac forward K.J. Tiefenwerth. Recruiting has been reinvigorated since his arrival, but it hasn't paid dividends on the ice. The overall apathy of the administration towards the hockey program is one excuse Micheletto and his supporters can use in his defense.

Red Gendron took over a program that was suffering from a lack of support financially and an overall lack of interest in the upkeep of the program by higher ups in the administration. His first year led to some optimism regarding the future, but it's been downhill since. Recruiting his picked up significantly, and prospects for next season and beyond look more promising. The biggest key to long term success for Gendron, or any new coach in Orono, is more backing from the administration and money poured into the program for better locker room and weight training facilities.

Also hired the same off-season as Gendron was David Quinn at Boston University. It's difficult to take over for a legend, but the former Colorado Avalanche assistant has done it well. He's an affable personality that has hit the ground running on the recruiting trail, thanks to assistant coaches like Albie O'Connell and formerly Steve Greely. BU could have as many as six first round draft picks in the upcoming draft, including recruits. The Terriers were less than a period away from a national championship last season. The future on the Terrier end of Commonwealth Avenue appears to be bright as ever.

Coach School Year Started Record NCAA Apps NCAA Champs HE Trophies
1 Nate Leaman Providence 2011-12 100-63-23 (.599) 2 1 0
2 Norm Bazin UMass Lowell 2011-12 118-54-18 (.668) 3 0 3
3 David Quinn Boston University 2013-14 55-38-13 (.580) 1 0 2
4 Jim Madigan Northeastern 2011-12 69-80-22 (.468) 0 0 0
5 Red Gendron Maine 2013-14 37-56-13 (.410) 0 0 0
6 John Micheletto Massachusetts 2012-13 39-83-13 (.337) 0 0 0

It's tough to argue against Nate Leaman for the top spot. He has the ultimate cache in his pocket with last season's national championship trophy, an uptick in recruiting and overall progression of the program since he took over a sinking ship.

There's certainly an argument to be made for Bazin, who took over a UMass Lowell program that was possibly being cut. The River Hawks appear destined to make a fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in his five seasons. UML has three conference championships in his tenure.

Quinn took over a program that had hit a lull in recruiting, and he's certainly picked that up to a whole new level. He benefited from Jack Eichel last season, a recruiting coup of his predecessor. It's always tough to replace a legend, but he is doing a good job. Known as the preeminent defensive coach in the game, his impact will only continue to be felt.