What is your background with hockey?
I have a lot of years of experience. I have coached college before. I have coached minor pro. I spent almost 15 years in minor pro and five years in the NHL. I have been through all different levels of the game from youth hockey to college hockey to pro hockey.
How do you think that experience and especially your time in the NHL will help you here at CC?
Well I have been through every situation you can imagine. I’ve dealt with millionaires, I’ve dealt with guys trying to get into junior programs and colleges, and I’ve coached guys that are trying to make into the NHL. I don’t think there is anything that I haven’t dealt with or seen in my 22-plus years of coaching. It has not only helped me get to where I am today, but this experience helped me understand what it takes to be successful.
What are your expectations going into your first season as head coach of the Tigers?
My expectations are always high no matter where I go. I always set the bar very, very high. I am a very demanding guy from my staff, to myself, and to my team. It is going to be a learning experience early on as the team gets used to me and I get used to them. I think this is one of the premiere jobs in all of college hockey, so we need to bring this program back to national contention each and every year.
What excites you about the team and the players you have this year?
I have watched a lot of film. I have watched all of [the games from] last year already, and I think there is a lot to work with here. There are some good players. Some of their details and habits in the game need to improve, and they certainly will under this staff. You are talking about a team that lost 17 one-goal games last year, and we need to turn a lot of those games our way for this season.
What has surprised you most about Colorado College in general?
Nothing really. I went to a small liberal arts school myself in upstate New York, and we had fewer students than there are here. I think it is amazing to live with the mountains everywhere. I love how everyone is friendly. It is a great campus. I talk about togetherness with our players, and I see that on campus. Everyone seems to enjoy themselves. I know it is a hard academic school, but the camaraderie I see everyday is pretty impressive.
What is the most memorable moment of your coaching career so far?
By far winning the Stanley Cup. I was fortunate enough to be with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 when we won. I was the head coach in the American League for the Hawks for four years prior to that. Ten of the guys on the Stanley Cup team started their career with me, which made it extra special to see them raise the banner. Everyone dreams about that moment as a boy, so to be able to do is pretty amazing.
Who is your favorite professional athlete?
As a kid growing up in the tri-state area, Mark Messier always intrigued me. He was such a leader and to do what he did in New York—to see him say that he was going to do what he did—was pretty amazing. I was fortunate enough to meet him a couple times. I can see why he is regarded as one of the best leaders in all of sports. Him and Scotty Bowman. I have a really good friendship with Scotty Bowman through my years in Chicago. When you can have a resource like Scotty Bowman, who has won 13 Stanley Cups, that is pretty amazing.
What do enjoy doing when you are not coaching?
I enjoy spending time with my family. I love to golf. I enjoy fishing. I have never been fly-fishing in my life because I have lived on the East Coast, but I think I am going to start. I go with a bunch of buddies each year off of the coast of New Jersey to a shark tournament. It’s a lot of fun. A lot of people do not know this, but I like to draw. I actually went to school to be an artist. It gets me away from the game and relaxes me a little bit.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The communication, the relationships you build with your players, the trust that you have with your players. It is a progression. You look at a year, and you have a vision of where you think your team could go. To actually see your team progress as the year goes on and see them meet your goals and see them mature as young men is very rewarding. I know we are judged with our wins and losses, but it’s a very rewarding job.
What excites you about coaching this level of hockey as opposed to the professional hockey?
Here you get the sense of reward each and every day. These young athletes are trying to win a national championship and make themselves better on an everyday basis. But also, at the end of this, each and every player, regardless of where they go, wants to play further. To help them this early in their lives and careers is going to be very rewarding for me.