2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Former CC players drew new coach to program

Published: May 9, 2014, 12:25 pm, by Joe Paisley

havilandHavilandaction2New Tigers hockey coach Mike Haviland liked what he saw while coaching former Colorado College players in the pros.

It convinced him the private school could be a good fit. Fans, alumni and players hope the Stanley Cup-winning assistant coach’s hopes are proven right after the hire was announced on Friday.

Haviland coached former Tigers defenseman Gabe Guentzel in Norfolk during the 2012-13 season and worked with Capitals blue-liner Jack Hillen during a rehab stint with Washington’s American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pa. this past season.

Former CC center Mark Cullen was one of his assistant captains in Norfolk during the 2005-6 season.

“Meeting those three showed me the kind of players and men CC produces,” Haviland said. “When the job came open, I reached out quickly. CC is one of the top Division I programs in the country and I thought it would be a great fit.”

Haviland, whose 15 years in the pro coaching ranks include serving an assistant with the 2010 NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks, is the 14th coach in the 75-year-old program’s history on Friday.

Hershey Bears HockeyThe 46-year-old replaced former longtime coach Scott Owens, who resigned after 15 seasons at his alma mater following a 7-24-6 campaign. Haviland beat out current CC assistants Joe Bonnett and Eric Rud, among others, for the job, which came open in early April.

The new coach signed a multi-year deal with CC late Thursday and declined to disclose financial details, as per college policy, when interviewed Friday morning.

“They certainly took care of me and my family,” he said. He and his fiancée Kristin have a blended family with six children.

The likely pay range is $200,000 to $275,000 a year, judging from the top five reported salaries in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Haviland has coaching experience at the Division III level. As an assistant with small, liberal arts-oriented Elmira (N.Y.) College, he helped his alma mater to a 51-12-2 record and two ECAC Division III championships from 1996-1998. He recorded 51 points (27 goals) in 23 games during his final season with the Soaring Eagles.

He said that experience taught him how to keep the student part of student-athlete at the forefront.

“I want to help develop them on and off the ice,” he said.

It was one reason school president Jill Tiefenthaler signed off on the hire.

“We are very fortunate to find a candidate who is both a teacher and mentor, as well as someone who will take our program in exciting new directions,” she said. “Mike is dedicated to his players and excited about being part of our community. He will be a transformational motivator and leader for our student athletes.”

Administrators also hope for considerable success on the ice.

“We have aspirations of winning national championships, and I am confident we have found the right coach to turn our vision into reality,” athletic director Ken Ralph said.

“My intention is to win a national championship and I believe we will,” Haviland said.

havilandThis past season, Haviland led the Hershey Bears to ninth place in the Eastern Conference, just two points shy of the playoffs despite a 39-27-5-5 record in his first year at the helm. A Manhattan native who grew up in Middletown, N.J., Haviland served as assistant in charge of forwards in Norfolk the previous season (37-34-4-1).

Before then, he was a Blackhawks assistant in charge of special teams from 2008-12. The Original Six franchise went 187-101-40 over those four years and hoisted the 2010 Stanley Cup. In 2012, following his dismissal from Chicago, he was a finalist for the vacant Capitals job that went to the now-fired Adam Oates.

“Mike has won championships at multiple levels and has always produced winning programs,” Ralph said.

Haviland spent four seasons coaching (172-81-325) the ECHL’s Trenton Titans (2004-05) and Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (2001-04) and won two league titles (2003, 2005).

He moved up to AHL Norfolk (93-51-10-6) for two seasons (2005-7). The then-Blackhawks affiliate broke single-season wins and points records, which earned him the 2007 Coach of the Year award.

He moved on to Rockford (Ill.) when the Blackhawks affiliated with that team. The IceHogs went 44-26-4-6 and advanced through two playoff rounds that season before he joined Chicago as an assistant.

As a player, Haviland was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 1990 NHL draft. His experience includes AHL Binghamton (1989-90) and the ECHL (1990-91) with Richmond and Winston-Salem.