It has now been two weeks since the University of Michigan formally introduced Mel Pearson as their new head coach. That same day, WCHA meetings began in Florida followed later that week with the AHCA meetings. It likely was a great opportunity for Michigan Tech Athletic Director, Suzanne Sanregret to chat with some potential candidates in a low key environment and gauge interest from assistants and head coaches throughout the country.
All indications are that Sanregret and company are back in Houghton and have already started the formal interview process. While we have some knowledge of who Sanregret and Michigan Tech have spoken with, most of the reports are currently unconfirmed and for now we’ll recap who we’ve profiled in the last week and provide any additional information we have at the end.
While Dane Jackson should be near the top of the list of candidates if he applied it is unclear and it is unlikely that the North Dakota assistant has any interest in leaving the program after declining to join Dave Hakstol in Philadelphia. His family and his roots are in Grand Forks and it would take a higher profile job than Michigan Tech to get him to leave. For more info check out our Jackson profile, The Champion.
The fledgling Penn State program has quickly become successful in the Big Ten and assistant Keith Fisher has been a huge part of that. His resume is a bit of a concern though because he has mostly worked under Guy Gadowsky his entire career and he’s never even played at the Division I or professional level. While someone who has been a part of two successful programs should be considered it’s unclear if he’d be interested in leaving at this time. For more info check out our Fisher profile, The Disciple.
Chris Bergeron is certainly one of the best coaches in the WCHA and he is slightly underpaid compared to what Michigan Tech can afford if they are willing to pay the next coach at or above Pearson’s salary while with the Huskies. On the other hand, Bergeron’s contract has too many poisonous clauses like a $250,000 buyout and needing written permission to speak with Michigan Tech (or any team) about their opening. For more info check out our Bergeron profile, The Rival.
Gary Shuchuk was the last of four assistants to join Pearson’s staff during his six year tenure. While current players seem to have really enjoyed his coaching style at practice and during games, there have been many rumors of recruits not really liking his more professional style of scouting/recruiting. These two things may turn out to help him as he may not be on the recruiting trail much himself. For more info check out our Shuchuk profile, The Citizen.
Pat Mikesch was the last Michigan Tech alum that we chose to profile but he has a wealth of experience between his time as a Jamie Russell assistant, seeing how things can go wrong. After that though, he moved on to the Green Bay Gamblers and helped them win a title under Derek LaLonde. After being promoted to head coach, he’s been a relatively successful USHL in his three seasons that should earn him an interview to layout his plans for the Huskies. For more info check out our Mikesch profile, The Phoenix.
Ben Barr has traveled all over college hockey primarily as a second assistant, but his age is a bit of a liability and the fact that he wasn’t chosen to take over at RPI when Seth Appert was fired doesn’t look reflect well to the rest of college hockey. It is likely that someone will give Barr a chance as a head coach eventually, but it seems unlikely that it will be Michigan Tech. For more info check out our Barr profile, The Engineer.
The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs have been one of the best programs over the last decade under Scott Sandelin. His top assistant, Brett Larson is a prime candidate to become a head coach and if there is interest from Larson, Michigan Tech should be listening to him. Whether or not he gets that far in the process, a transition from Duluth to Houghton seems to make a lot of sense for both sides. For more info check out our Larson profile, The Bulldog.
Mark Osiecki is one of the highest paid assistant coaches in the country at an eye opening $200k at his alma mater, Wisconsin. While the appeal of getting a second chance of running his own program after his very short career at Ohio State, the fact that he’s basically making Head Coach money as an assistant in Madison makes any move unlikely. For more info check out our Osiecki profile, The Badger.
Todd Knott was nearly hired as an assistant for the Huskies back in 2006 making the idea of him moving to Houghton seems quite logical. His experience however is a little light for someone without school connections. While it is quite likely that Knott applied, depending on who else applied it seems unlikely that Knott would represent the “wildcards” in the interviewing process. For more info check out our Knott profile, The Maverick.
The Time Before Last
Last week we discussed the process that resulted in Mel Pearson being hired as Head Coach. This week, we’ll provide a little background on what happen in 2003. Former athletic director Rick Yeo was in charge of the hiring process and used a committee which determined that Mark Maroste, Dave Shyiak, and Jamie Russell would be the finalists. At the time Mark Maroste had been an assistant under the previous coach, Mike Sertich. Upon retiring, Sertich had stated that Maroste should succeed him as head coach. Dave Shyiak on the other hand had been the top assistant at Northern Michigan for eight years during a successful time for the Wildcats. The eventual choice, Jamie Russell had stints with Ferris State and Cornell, helping recruit many strong players that helped both programs have achieve success while Russell was on staff or shortly after moving on to his stop.
Ultimately Rick Yeo and the committee selected Jamie Russell. While the end of his tenure wasn’t pretty, Russell did produce the first winning season for Michigan Tech (2006-07) since 1992-93. It was the only winning season in a 21 year stretch that lasted until Mel Pearson’s 4th season, two years after conference reshuffling completely changed the landscape of college hockey. In the end, Russell was unable to continue that success at Michigan Tech and resigned after the 2010-11 season.
What We Know
As we have tweeted out over the weekend, we know that three former Mel Pearson assistants were given the opportunity to interview for the position. Bill Muckalt was confirmed to have been in Houghton last week and THG has been able to confirm that both Gary Shuchuk and Joe Shawhan were afforded interviewed by Michigan Tech. Tech Hockey Guide was also able to verify that this round of in-person interviews will take some time and is likely to include eight candidates, including the three listed above. As we continue to work through this process, we’ll attempt to provide up to date information as we can verify.
A Call to Action
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Check back tomorrow as we hope to have more news on how the coaching search is progressing.
Feature image courtesy of Ryan Johnson
Tim is a 2004 graduate of Michigan Tech. He is a co-founder of both Mitch’s Misfits and Tech Hockey Guide. With recent additions to the staff, Tim is again able to focus on his passion, recruiting. He currently works as an environmental engineer and resides in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Area.