College hockey’s lone head coaching vacancy was filled on Wednesday when Vermont announced that Winnipeg Jets assistant Todd Woodcroft would be the team’s next head coach, replacing Kevin Sneddon, who retired from the position earlier this year.
Woodcroft took a unique route to the bench in Burlington. He joins Western Michigan’s Andy Murray as one of two head coaches that never played college hockey at the NCAA or ACHA level. But his background in professional hockey is extensive. He began his career as a video coach for the Minnesota Wild in their inaugural season of 2000-01. From there, he moved on to being a scout for the Wild, Capitals, and Kings, before being hired as Calgary’s director of scouting in 2013. In 2016, he made the move behind the bench, becoming an assistant coach for the Winnipeg Jets.
It’s an unconventional hire for a Catamount program that is looking to rebuild, especially considering some of the other, more traditional, candidates that were passed over. But there’s little doubt that Woodcroft has excellent acumen when it comes to evaluating young hockey players, given his extensive experience scouting professionally, and obviously knows the game well given his experience coaching at the NHL level. How that will translate at the NCAA level remains to be seen. Ultimately, much will likely depend on the resources he is given by the University of Vermont, an area where Vermont had really fallen behind other programs in Hockey East.