Hockey Coaching Candidates: Alternatives to Mel

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 11th, 2017 at 10:22 AM

[Ed. A- David Nasternak, our hockey beat writer, did the heavy lifting in compiling this article and also helped author it.]

At some point today, Warde Manuel will sit down in his office overlooking Hoover Avenue and State Street, check his to-do list, and find an item at the top wholly unfamiliar to him as Michigan’s athletic director, a task that was also wholly unfamiliar to the seven men who previously sat behind his desk: hire a new men’s ice hockey head coach.

Most of the buzz on this site and around the local scene has been centered near Mel Pearson, Red Berenson’s longtime assistant turned Michigan Tech head coach. There is probably a good case for him (particularly if based on his teams’ Corsi over the past few seasons), and he might be a fine head coach and quality option, but there are also a couple of reasons to remain skeptical. We’re not saying that they cannot be ironed out or that he would not succeed as Michigan’s next head coach. We do think that there are other options out there to consider as well.

David talked to a handful of people and did a lot of digging. These are the upper-echelon alternatives that we think should at least be investigated. For the record, very established guys at programs that aren’t a step down from Michigan have not been included on this list, so you’re not going to find Don Lucia or Jerry York on here.

SUCCESSFUL COLLEGIATE COACHES

Norm Bazin, UMass Lowell

He’s only 46 years old and already has nine years of head-coaching experience and an additional 11 years experience as an assistant. Eight of his years as an assistant came at Colorado College; those years nearly killed him. Seriously.  His incredible survival story is a must-read.

Coaching highlights:

  • Three years as an assistant at UML
  • Eight years as an assistant at Colorado College bazin
  • Three years head coach at Hamilton College
  • Six years head coach at UML

Over the course of his six years at UMass Lowell, he has: twice been named Hockey East Coach of the Year, won the Penrose award for Division I coach of the year, finished with a winning percentage >.600 each of the last seven years, won the regular season Hockey East title two of the last five seasons, won the Hockey East conference tournament three of the last six seasons (while making the final five consecutive seasons), made the NCAA tournament five of the last six years, won at least one game in the NCAA tournament each of those five times, and made the Frozen Four in 2012-13.

Unfortunately for Michigan, given all that he has been through and that he is coaching at his alma mater, he may be happy at UML. Regardless, he should be first on the list. He might be the list. And he’s young, too. Give him what he wants.

[After THE JUMP: other current collegiate head coaches, guys with Michigan connections, and a couple wildcards]

Jim Montgomery, University of Denver

Montgomery has turned a pretty good Denver program into the top team in the nation this season despite having just six players on the roster drafted by the NHL. He has become one of the hotter coaching commodities in college hockey; the first paragraph of his bio on DU’s website says that he just signed a contract extension through 2020-21, which feels a little GET OFF MY LAWN. Looking through his accomplishments, you can understand why:

montgomery

  • Hired as DU’s head coach in 2013, his team won the NCHC conference tournament in 2014, made the Elite Eight in 2015, made the Frozen Four in 2016, and won the 2017 national championship
  • His Denver squad finished at the top of the PairWise rankings and won the NCHC regular season title
  • Was the head coach and general manager of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints from 2010-13, during which time he won two Clark Cup championships
  • In 2013, he guided his team to a regular season championship and was named the USHL’s general manager of the year
  • Spent four years (2006-10) as an assistant at RPI

Though one can hope that it won’t be, Montgomery’s new contract could be a sticking point. He has four years left on a deal for which terms haven’t been disclosed but is rumored to be among the highest-paying in the NCHC. Michigan would be competing with NHL teams for his services as well; apparently Calgary offered him the head job last summer and the Florida Panthers want to interview him for their vacant head coaching position.

Nate Leaman, Providence

What Leaman has done at Providence is nothing short of remarkable. In 2011-12, he took over a program that had finished over .500 once in the previous seven seasons. Since then, he has:

leaman

  • Finished five consecutive seasons with a >.500 overall and conference record
  • Made four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances
  • Won a national title in 2015
  • Named the USCHO Coach of the Year in 2015
  • Won the Hockey East coach of the year award in 2015-16

And that’s just at Providence. He was also the head coach at Union for eight years, culminating in a Spencer Penrose Award win for the top coach in DI hockey in 2011. All that, and he’s only 44 years old. Like Montgomery, he has a contract that runs through 2020-21 and has turned down NHL offers (though not NHL head coaching jobs) in the past. FWIW, he kind of looks like Mike Babcock. (That’s not worth anything. I’m sorry. It’s true, though.)

Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac

Pecknold has been the coach at Quinnipiac since 1994. He’s led the transition from DII to DI, maneuvered several different conferences, and is finally a regular in the NCAA Tournament.  He has not had a losing season at any level since the ’95-’96 campaign. His team has dropped off a little bit this season, though, and will not get an at-large bid. Some of his highlights include:pecknold

  • Making the NCAA Tournament four of the last five seasons
  • Making the NCAA title game in 2013 and 2016
  • Won three different CoY awards in 2016
  • Has a .600+ winning % over the last five seasons and .800+ in two of the last four

His downside is that he has almost been at Quinnipiac as long as Red has been at Michigan. So, would he even be interested in leaving? It’s definitely worth finding out. He’s also never been as successful as he’s been in the last half-decade. If there’s a time for him to push his ceiling, it’s now.

Keith Allain, Yale

Despite having a down season, Keith Allain has been tremendously successful at Yale. He’s in his 11th season with the Bulldogs and has built up quite a resume:

  • allainMaking the NCAA Tournament in six of his last nine seasons
  • Winning the National Championship in 2013
  • Owns a .570 career winning % at Yale

Despite making the NCAAs, he’s only won a game in two of his six seasons.  He’s also 58.  That’s not too old, but there are also a few younger options who have the prime of their careers ahead of them.  We don’t think that Allain is a bad option, but he’s a bit farther down the list.

Scott Sandelin, University of Minnesota-Duluth

He does not have the gaudy winning percentage that some of the other candidates have, but he’s also been competing in the old WCHA and now the NCHC, both very tough conferences.  Some of his highlights include:

  • sandelinWas an assistant coach at North Dakota for six seasons (‘95-’00)
  • Took UMD to the NCAA Tournament in six of the last nine seasons (including this season)
  • Made the Frozen Four three times, the national title game this season, and won a National Championship (which you, uh, might remember quite vividly)

Sandelin, like Pecknold, has seemed to find his niche; he’s been in Duluth for 17 seasons. It could be tough to pry him away from a program that he, like Berenson, has mostly built and maintained himself. UMD is a perennial contender and coming off of one of their best seasons this year. Unfortunately, without much of a coaching tree from Red, Michigan is going to have to go pull a guy out of someplace else. Sandelin is not a bad option.

STRONG MICHIGAN CONNECTIONS

John Madden, Cleveland Monsters (AHL) madden

Madden played at Michigan from ’94-’97 under Red Berenson. After leaving Michigan, he played in the NHL for 10+ years with the Devils (where he won a Cup), Blackhawks, Wild, and Panthers.  After retiring, he was an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers for three seasons before becoming the head coach with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. He is just finishing up his first season, sitting just above .500.  It is probably a little too early to hand him the keys to the program, but he’s definitely a guy to keep your eye on.

Bill Muckalt, Tri-City Storm (USHL)

Muckalt could be an interesting guy. He’s a flier for sure, but definitely worth consideration.  He also played under Red at Michigan from ’95-’98.  His coaching record includes:

muckalt

  • Four years as an assistant at Michigan Tech from ’12-’15 under Mel Pearson, who recruited him
  • Taking over for the USHL’s Tri-City Storm and leading the organization to its first Championship ever in ’15-‘16.  The team won their division by four points despite losing 17 games in OT or a Shootout, which is about twice as many as the team with the second most extra time losses (nine). That seems rather unlucky. This season, the team has come back to earth, however, hovering just below .500

Apparently, he is also called “Full Throttle” because of his intensity and dedication to what he does.  That seems…familiar.

“Nicknamed “Full Throttle” because he doesn’t do anything halfway; the past month Muckalt has had knee surgery, travelled to Sweden to meet Frolunda junior Linus Weissbach, held a week-long tryout in Las Vegas and is now on route to this weekend’s NHL draft.

Pearson speaks highly of his protégé, “he’s a rising star, true student of the game.”

-The Hockey News, June 26, 2016

WILDCARDS

Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings

Blashill is currently employed by an NHL team.  A local NHL team.  You may have heard of the Detroit Red Wings?  David was never a fan, but there are (and have been) rumors swirling about his impending release by the organization. However, a lot of Hockey Folk believe that the actual problem lies elsewhere, not with Mr Blashill.  So…crazy?  Sure! But…that’s why he is a ‘wildcard.’  Let’s look at some things:blashill

  • He has state of Michigan ties (from Detroit, then Sault Ste. Marie, played and started coaching at Ferris State)
  • He continued under Enrico Blasi at Miami (NTM) for 6 seasons
  • Won a USHL Championship in 2009 with the Indiana Ice
  • Won an AHL Championship with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2013
  • Took Western Michigan to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years in 2011 (also their best season in over a decade) in his only season in Kalamazoo

Let’s be real.  He may not have an interest in coming back to college.  He may not even have to leave Detroit (but probably).  However, he’s still a very viable option.  He’s been successful everywhere he’s gone (before the NHL), and he still very young (43). He might not be our top choice, but if he’s available and remotely interested, he’s definitely worth looking into. The point is that there are other guys, like Blashill, that could be decent options.

Ron Wilson, former NHL head coach; 2016 Team USA WJC head coach

Alright, let’s go super rogue!  Here are his highlights:

  • wilsonCoached 4 NHL franchises, leading 3 of them to the Playoffs, including Washington to the Cup Final in 1998
  • He made the NHL Playoffs in 8 of his 17 seasons
  • He coached the US and won the 1996 World Cup of Hockey
  • He coached Team USA in the 1998 and 2010 Olympics, winning a silver medal in Vancouver
  • He was also tabbed to lead the US in the 2016 World Junior Championship

Unfortunately, Ron Wilson had a stroke in December of 2016 and was unable to coach Team USA.  So, this may not even be feasible.  His name came up as a “you never know” and upon thinking about it further, he seemed like an intriguing option.  If he is capable and interested, he certainly has the experience. The grind is also lighter than the NHL/professional schedule; he turns 62 very soon. Western Michigan had success bringing back Andy Murray, a candidate in a similar situation as Wilson. He is the perfect way to end this list of guys with which it would be intriguing to start a coaching search--a search that Michigan has not had to do in quite some time.

Comments

DCGrad

April 11th, 2017 at 10:35 AM ^

Here's my conspiracy theory for the day. Mike Babcock tells Warde he wants the job after he wins a cup with Toronto. Warde knows this would be a homerun hire but needs a good coach now. Warde hires Mel who is 57 years old, with the understanding that this could be a 5-year stop. Toronto is poised to win a cup in the next 5 or so years (IMO based on young talent).

 

After Toronto wins a cup Warde revisits the issue. Babs may want to stay and win more cups. Mel might want to stay longer and might be (probably will be) doing a great job. Then Warde has a tough decision to make.

I think Babs would make a great college coach becuase he has a reputation for getting the most of of his players, but also wearing on guys he's been around for a while. The latter wouldn't be an issue in college and I think recruitng under Babs would be incredible.

Sauce Castillo

April 11th, 2017 at 10:47 AM ^

Babcock would be awesome, what makes me chuckle more is your thoughts on the leafs winning a cup in the next 5 years lol.  I'm not even a wings fan hating on the leafs, but I'd love for you to tell me how that D core is going to win a cup in the next 5 yrs.

Kevin13

April 11th, 2017 at 10:55 AM ^

in the next 5 years. That team is loaded with top end young talent that is only going to get better. They have one of the better coaches in the NHL. Picking up the last 1-2 pieces to complete a cup team is not that tough through free agency, draft or bringing guys up from the minors. Toronto is a lot closer then you think.

Sauce Castillo

April 11th, 2017 at 10:58 AM ^

look at all the teams that have won a cup dating back to 2007.  Every one of them has had a D man that can eat 30 minutes a game in the playoffs. I'm not saying Toronto doesn't have other good to becoming great pieces at forward, but don't tell me they are winning a cup without a top end D pair. You aren't finding a #1 d man in free agency, and Shattenkirk isn't going to TOR.

clarkiefromcanada

April 11th, 2017 at 4:28 PM ^

That feels like some Wings fan negativity there. I'd be reticent, based on track record, to vote against Lou Lamoriello figuring out talent over time. That he's got Mark Hunter running shotgun with him leads me to believe they will figure out defense. That said, it's probably only a five or six year window so the clock is ticking.

DCGrad

April 11th, 2017 at 10:59 AM ^

don't get me wrong, but that's just what Babs does. He won with Anaheim then came to Detroit and should have won 2. The 08-09 team had Chris Chelios, Bran Rafalski, Ericsson, and an aging Lidstrom as defenseman and damn near won a cup. 36 year old Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin were the net minders too.

DCGrad

April 11th, 2017 at 12:09 PM ^

Kronwall was a good young defenseman. All those listed were 35+ years old, Chelios was 46. I was trying to make the point that the defense had good pairings but they were at the end of their careers, far off from their prime. But with those players they were still able to compete for a cup and should have won. I think the leafs can make the moves to compete along with their young players entering their prime.

Lou MacAdoo

April 11th, 2017 at 12:31 PM ^

I agree and think it's really hard to win a Stanley Cup. Also, it's really hard to build a roster that can compete for one in the salary cap era. They had plenty of chances, but they just couldn't get it done in the playoffs.  I sure wish they had one or two of those old timers this year. On the blue line making smart plays, breaking out, and not turning the puck over.

I think the Leafs have lacked the right coach and GM combo for a while until now. We'll see if they can get over the hump and win it all in the next decade. Easier said than done and they've proven in the past that they're capable of choking at anytime. Love their coach, management, and skill right now though. Should be fun to see how they perform in the playoffs this year.

HarbaughsLeftElbow

April 11th, 2017 at 11:18 AM ^

Why not just bring in the best coach possible and if Babcock wants the job in 5 years evaluate whether or not to swap coaches. You don't specifically need Mel Pearson in this scenario (unless you are worried about damaging the relationship with the outgoing coach). 

Sam1863

April 11th, 2017 at 11:21 AM ^

This is my ignorance showing, but why would Babcock want the UM job?

Other than coaching the Red Wings, what is Babcock's connection to this area? Does he have one to UM?

I'll be the first to admit I don't keep up on hockey like other sports, so I truly don't know.

Pepto Bismol

April 11th, 2017 at 11:41 AM ^

I do follow hockey and I have no idea what attracts Babcock to Michigan.  He's from Saskatchewan (like Berenson), and had no ties to Michigan that I know of until being hired by the Wings.

He's in year 2 of an 8 year/$50 million dollar contract with Toronto (I think).  In addition to leaving a $6 million per year job for one that won't reach $1 million, I have to imagine he'd have a buyout that would crush the M Hockey budget.

It seems he and Berenson are close and I certainly don't fault him for admiring Michigan Hockey.  But Babcock to Michigan at any time makes almost zero sense.

lhglrkwg

April 11th, 2017 at 11:56 AM ^

There have been rumors floating around as early as maybe 2008-2010 timeframe that said people in the AD didn't just believe Babcock was interested but that he was essentially expected to take over for Red when he retired.

Now there's that tweet out from this week that said Babcock wished Red had held on for a few more years because he'd love the job.

I'd bet Babcock legitimately thinks the Michigan job would be fun and would be a job he would do, but I'm very skeptical that he will ever actually take it. Maybe at the end of his NHL career he might take it for fun? I'm not sure whether he's had serious discussions about Michigan or whether he's just humoring friends he knows. I doubt it'll ever happen

Seth

April 11th, 2017 at 11:47 AM ^

The time to get Babcock was 10 years ago or maybe 20 years ago probably 20. Before the Ducks.

I know Michigan wants to make a splash or find a generational coach. But Red's tree is like Bo's in that there are a couple of good short-term options that will last us 10 to 15 or maybe 20 years. I would kick the tires on Bazin and Montgomery but I would not go much further before calling Mel Pearson and then having him annoint Muckalt as heir apparent.

The FannMan

April 11th, 2017 at 12:24 PM ^

I actually do not want Babock.

/ducks.  

He has won a cup, a Gold medal, and misc. other championships.  He has been at the NHL for a while, and is currently holding what is arguably the most pressurized coaching job in hockey.  He has zero left to prove, especially, if he gets a cup this year (admittedly, a long shot).  The only reason why he would take the Michigan job is that it seems fun and would be easier than what he is doing know.  I am sure that he is ultra-competitive, but I would rather have a young hungry coach with something to prove than a guy looking at a "retirement job."

 

 

Kevin13

April 11th, 2017 at 10:51 AM ^

is the guy I really think they should target. He is young, but with a lot of good experience. He's had a lot of success and doesn't appear to have a long contract. We should be able to pay a lot more then UML so give it a go.

I  can't imagine any shot at Montgomery. He just won the NC. Denver's facilities are as nice as any in the country and that school has money, they can pretty much match any Michgian can offer.

Going to be interesting though, but glad this is finally happening.

Unsalted

April 11th, 2017 at 12:20 PM ^

Armstrong would be a great get, but it would be tough.

  • Magness Arena is great college venue
  • Hockey is the top sport at DU
  • DU's AD, Peg Bradley-Doppes, fired two time NC coach George Gwozdecky to hire Armstrong and would like to keep him

DU also has what I consider a hidden hockey advantage. DU is on quarters and the academic year starts in early September. Their holiday break is from Thanksgiving to January. That's about five weeks of 'Hockey only' for the team. Even with NCAA practice restrictions this works out great for DU.

goblue8888

April 11th, 2017 at 12:25 PM ^

Their AD would struggle to pay a HC 500k/yr and 2 assistants 200k/yr. That is what granato and his top 2 asssistants make. Not saying we would get montgomery, he is likely headed to the nhl and some guys aren't motivated by money but du would struggle to able to match the salaries michigan could offer. Hell Um  could go even higher than 500k, several top tier womens bball and baseball coaches make around 1mil/yr. The only schools in the country that could pay a hockey coach that reside in the b1g due to the huge overall athletic budgets.

BrownJuggernaut

April 11th, 2017 at 10:51 AM ^

Friend is a college hockey writer. He said that Bazin seems unlikely because he's comfortable at Lowell. I believe his parents moved to the area as well. It would be tough to uproot the family. Leaman is more ambitious, so I'd imagine that Michigan would be an intriguing option for him. His name has also come up for the Bruins job. He might be a tough pull if that vacancy is still a possibility. It's going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Maize Mountain

April 11th, 2017 at 10:57 AM ^

How in the world do you survive being trapped in a wrecked car for an hour with a severed aorta? I would name all the rest of my children Coleston (if I were still having any).

Owl

April 11th, 2017 at 11:15 AM ^

This is more a question than anything, because I don't know how college hockey coaching searches typically go (you know, never having experienced one). If this was football, I'd be pretty confident in our ability to swoop in and poach someone from a smaller school. Michigan has so many advantages over small schools (money, facilities, playing in a P5 conference, etc.) that it makes sense to come to Michigan.

Does that apply to hockey as well, though? I don't think that resources are as lopsided. This is a sport where small, otherwise no-name schools can and do compete at the highest level. Does it make sense to leave the program you've built for Michigan when you can win just fine where you already are?

Adam Schnepp

April 11th, 2017 at 11:27 AM ^

I think Michigan has a monetary advantage over almost everyone, but you're right about schools that you'd normally think of as small being able to throw $250-500k at a good coach and compete at the highest level. With that, of course, comes the ability to retain coaches you'd normally think would jump at the chance to move on. 

As for whether it makes sense to move to Michigan, that depends on the situation. Coming to Michigan could come with a pay bump. I'm not sure whose facilites are great and whose are not. There's also the question of whether a coach in a great conference wants to coach in the middling Big Ten, as well as whether they're comfortable recruiting and deploying young skaters (as some coaches at good programs are winning with a bunch of 23-year-old dudes).

Hardware Sushi

April 11th, 2017 at 11:34 AM ^

FWIW, and it may not be much: I Had dinner with some mutual acquaintances last night and their son works in UML's athletic department. They seemed to think Bazin to Michigan is a done deal, although they said UML is obviously pulling out all the stops to keep him. Should be interesting to see what Warde gets done. I don't totally believe it - I can't see him leaving without a monster contract and I just can't imagine we'll drop $750+ for 7 or 8 years on him.

The Maizer

April 11th, 2017 at 12:35 PM ^

What does "mutual acquaintances" mean here? Like they are your acquaintance and also you are theirs? Or you they are both your acquaintance and also that of some unnamed mystery party? If the latter, I'm going to speculate that the mystery party is UM Dearborn's club hockey coach and that the mutual acquaintance is Red Berenson. Guys, Red Berenson said Bazin will be the hire (heard it from Hardware Sushi first!).

Hardware Sushi

April 11th, 2017 at 1:56 PM ^

Dinner with my girlfriend's good family friends. There were 30+ people there at a big Passover dinner. The 'mutual acquantance' is part of my girlfriend's dad's social circle who I've briefly met before. He went to OSU med school and knows I went to Michigan so we chatted about M & OSU related items. 

I thought 'mutual acquantance' was better than a full description, because that would immediately ilicit a "my brother's neighbor's father's cleaner's son told her that he knows a guy..." response.

Like I said, I don't even think I believe it. Just got talking about it after dinner.

stephenrjking

April 11th, 2017 at 12:37 PM ^

That's a pretty wild rumor, but so was the "Blashill is Michigan's next head coach" rumor and I still feel like there was some real smoke there if not actual fire. So I'm upvoting this because I would like it to be true.

At any rate, if you did indeed have dinner with someone connected to the UML AD (nothing personal, but I've learned to be skeptical in all such situations), even if they're totally wrong about the outcome, that would suggest that there is at least some real contact. Which is good even if it goes nowhere.

Michifornia

April 11th, 2017 at 12:02 PM ^

Red was the man.  Don't care what anyone else says.  We are losing a legend.  Need someone who can flat out coach.  We will always attract strong players.

GO BLUE!!

BS Arch 99

April 11th, 2017 at 12:03 PM ^

I was at Yost for every game between the 1998/ 99 and 2002/03 seasons.  I loved watching those teams skate circles around people, especially the ugly dump and chase MSU goon squads.  Pizza House had a promo for a free pizza for a ticket stub from any game where U of M scored more than 10 goals.  We ate a lot of free pizza Sunday nights. (It was awesome.)

Can anyone comment on how well the style of play at UMass, Denver, Providence, Quinnipiac, or Yale compares to Red Berenson Hockey (tm)?

Thanks.

Lou MacAdoo

April 11th, 2017 at 12:19 PM ^

This is a good question. The D and goaltending have been questionable at times under Red, but the offense has always been a blast to watch. To be honest though if the next coach continues to bring in the elite talent we've been used to then they will score at will no matter who's coaching. 

The Maizer

April 11th, 2017 at 12:40 PM ^

Not to be a downer, but I don't think you can take goal scoring as a guaranteed thing. Just looking at the B1G this year in goals for.

1. Penn State (160)

2. Ohio State (153

3. Minnesota (141)

4. Wisconsin (122)

5. Michigan (92)

6. Michigan State (84)

The offense was most certainly not a blast to watch this year.

Lou MacAdoo

April 11th, 2017 at 1:14 PM ^

Yeah I think we're all in agreement that last year doesn't count.  I don't think they had the talent on offense that Red's always put on the ice. Put a couple elite offensive talents on that team and it's different. It's hard to maintain an elite program when all of your best players are leaving early. Combine that and missing on a few recruits and you're going to have a down year.

stephenrjking

April 11th, 2017 at 12:49 PM ^

My hopes for the coaching search:

1. I hope Michigan treats this like Wisconsin did, as one of the best jobs in college hockey for an athletic department that has a serious revenue advantage over every team not in the B1G, worthy of getting paid more money than most other teams. A job that deserves a national search.

2. I hope they kick the tires on a couple of solid national guys.

3. If they make serious effort at that and still wind up with a guy that's a bit less exciting, I'm ok with that, if they get the right guy.

As mentioned elsewhere, college hockey coaching searches are a bit different than the bigger sports, because college hockey draws lower salaries and big money coaching changes from one program to another are exceedingly rare. 

So while I want to make a big national hire, it's tough to get guys. Montgomery would be a fantastic hire, but as the post describes getting him would be pretty tough. This is true for a lot of guys in the NCHC--NCHC programs by and large are at the top of the food chain in their respective athletic departments, which means they have better finances and facilities and good fanbases. Bazin would also be a tough get, basically UML's Jim Harbaugh.

Leaman, to me, is the best combination of a guy who is a young winner with a situation where he is not coaching in a "destination" program. I'd love any of Montgomery, Bazin, or Leaman.

I'm less enthusiastic about Scott Sandelin, both because he's a top-of-the-foodchain guy who is well settled in the Duluth area, and because he builds his program differently from how a guy at Michigan should successfully build his. UMD has a very old roster, a lot of Minnesota high school players who took a year or two in Junior after high school and wind up as solid seniors at 23 or 24 years old. 

Now, everybody has some of these guys, and Sandelin is doing well with what he has, but he has a lot of "meh" seasons and I'm not sure he could change gears effectively at Michigan.

My first choice would be one of the listed national guys. I would be fine with Mel. I'm less enthused about Blashill but could talk myself into him. I don't want someone like Ron Wilson, and I think Babcock is just a fantasy.

The idea of reaching for Bill Muckalt is growing on me a bit, but I have no idea how good of a coach he actually is. The good news is that he is embedded in the USHL, which means he has the contacts and knowledge to recruit well. Whether he's actually a good recruiter is not known. He'd be a risk, but as a young guy with some coaching experience, that's not the worse idea in the world. 

Michigan doesn't need to make a John Beilein type hire, though. Beilein is fine in basketball in a world where Michigan will never reach the level of Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, or UNC; in hockey, Michigan is Duke/Kansas/UCLA. Michigan should make a hire that reflects this.

stephenrjking

April 11th, 2017 at 2:48 PM ^

This thread is kinda dying, but FWIW Joe Meloni has some valid thoughts about Bazin and to a lesser extent Leaman, especially with regard to how they would work and how willing they would be to come. His twitter feed @JoeMeloni is worth a look, interacts directly with Adam and Seth.