The college hockey season officially ended in exciting fashion on Saturday evening with Denver winning their eighth national championship. But this off-season is shaping up to be an incredibly interesting one, especially when it comes to coaching.
The biggest coaching story line is what will happen at Michigan. Most people assumed that Red Berenson would finally call it quits after Michigan’s season because he is 77 years old and, well...*gestures toward Michigan’s recent record*.
But somehow, that isn’t the foregone conclusion many expected. Chatter has increased since Michigan’s season ended three weeks ago that Berenson may be leaning towards returning for another season. On Sunday evening, Berenson was asked about his future at the final game played at Joe Louis Arena and told the Detroit Free Press that he had a meeting with Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, but refused to talk about the outcome of that meeting.
It’s a strange situation. I think both sides realize it’s time to move on, but Berenson legitimately doesn’t know what to do if he’s not coaching, and Michigan doesn’t want to force the guy out the door. Either way, an announcement is expected shortly, and it really seems like it’s a 50/50 thing that could go either way.
Meanwhile in East Lansing, their head coaching position is still vacant. There was some buzz during the Frozen Four that former Denver head coach George Gwozdecky was in the running for the job. The 63-year-old coach was an assistant at Michigan State three years before any current college hockey player was born, so he does have some connection to the program. But ultimately, it appears Gwoz won’t be taking the job.
At Valor Christian hockey banquet, George Gwozdecky said he has spoken to Michigan State but is planning on remaining w the CO prep team— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) April 10, 2017
Ultimately, you can’t blame him. He’s in a comfortable spot in Colorado—the HS team he is coaching made a big improvement in their second year—and it would take a huge effort to turn Michigan State’s program around.
The other obvious candidates with connections to MSU include alums Danton Cole of the NTDP and Arizona Coyotes assistant Newell Brown. Both had their seasons end this past weekend. I suspect some resolution will come to their coaching search relatively quickly. There seems to be more buzz surrounding Cole’s name. If he got the job, I’d be willing to bet he’d be the first coach ever to earn a promotion while on a 15-game losing streak.
Even before winning the national title, Jim Montgomery was bound to be at the top of a lot of coaching search lists, and winning a national championship only improves his resume. Montgomery was the first(and maybe only) guy on my list of coaches I’d throw Tony Granato-like money at if I was trying to fill a vacancy at a major college hockey program. But it appears more likely that Montgomery will end up in the NHL.
The Florida Panthers officially announced interim head coach/GM Tom Rowe has been let go, and announced Dale Tallon as the team’s new GM. There’s been heavy speculation that Montgomery will be among the top candidates to fill the head coaching vacancy.
.@TSNBobMcKenzie said on NBCSN that he believes Jim Montgomery is a candidate for Panthers coaching job, but too early to name a favorite.— Chris Dilks (@ChrisDilks) April 10, 2017
Sounds like U-Denver coach Jim Montgomery will be a candidate for #FlaPanthers job but search may not be quick w/ other coaches in playoffs. pic.twitter.com/nwMKozNMvm— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) April 10, 2017
Hard to argue that Montgomery wouldn’t be a great choice at this point. It’s way too early to speculate, but if Denver had to fill a coaching vacancy, it seems like assistant David Carle would be a natural choice.
Finally, Northern Michigan’s head coaching job is still vacant. The Wildcats have interviewed 15 candidates and should be making a final decision soon. The presumed leader is Western Michigan assistant Dave Shyiak. Shyiak is an alum of NMU and worked as an assistant there for many years. He was also head coach at Alaska-Anchorage for eight years, so he’s used to leading a program that wears green and gold that is strapped for green and doesn’t win much gold.