Longtime Boston College men’s hockey assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh has been offered the head coaching job at UConn, according to Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant.
UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel interviewed three candidates for the job last week: Cavanaugh, UConn interim coach David Berard and former Denver coach George Gwozdecky. It has been speculated that the school was looking for a coach with a Hockey East background as the Huskies prepare to make the jump from Atlantic Hockey after next season.
Cavanaugh has spent the last 18 seasons at Conte Forum with legendary head coach Jerry York, the past nine seasons as associate head coach. During his time behind the bench, Boston College has won four national championships (2001, 2008, 2010, 2012) in 10 trips to the Frozen Four, and has won nine Hockey East Tournament championships. He is considered one of the best recruiters in college hockey. He will need to demonstrate that at UConn. At the moment, there is no plan in place for a new on-campus rink, and Manuel expects the Huskies to play Hockey East games at the XL Center for the first four years in the conference, something that could affect recruiting at first.
The entrance into negotiations does not mean that the deal is complete. Negotiations could still go south, and Greg Joyce of The Heights has been told that Cavanaugh isn’t gone just yet.
I’m told by a BC source that Mike Cavanaugh to UConn is “not a done deal yet.”
— Greg Joyce (@GJoyce9) May 7, 2013
Berard has served as the interim coach for the Huskies since longtime head coach Bruce Marshall took a leave of absence in November, before resigning in January. Prior to Berard’s takeover, UConn was 0-4-1, the only result being a 2-2 tie against No. 8 Union at the Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs. Under Berard, UConn went 19-10-3, compiling one of the best records in college hockey after Jan. 1, and came within two wins of a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
It is believed that Berard was a popular choice among players and fans. According to a source close to the team, following UConn’s loss to Mercyhurst in the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals, senior captain Sean Ambrosie looked to a high-ranking UConn official, pointed at Berard and said, “That man needs to be the permanent head coach.”
Berard is responsible for the Huskies’ success on the recruiting path since the announcement that UConn would be moving to Hockey East. Two UConn recruits for next season are ranked in the top 135 nationally. However, this season was Berard’s first experience as a head coach, and his only connection to Hockey East is that he was a goaltender at Providence (’92), though he later returned to the Friars as a recruiting coordinator.
Denver’s decision to fire Gwozdecky has been the surprise of the offseason in college hockey to this point. In 19 seasons, Gwozdecky compiled a record of 443-267-64 at Denver, winning four WCHA championships as well as back-to-back national championships in 2004 and 2005. Gwozdecky ranks 11th all time with a career record fo 573-377-80.
According to College Hockey News, Gwozdecky’s interest in the UConn job is high, and that he believes that within five years, UConn will begin hanging banners at Freitas and the XL Center in Hartford.
“I believe, given time, the UConn hockey program is going to be an Eastern power,” Gwozdecky told the Hartford Courant. “Everything is there for it, including the commitment from the university. I think the blue print laid out is the right one. They want to win.”
The school will not comment on the situation until a coach is officially named. Cavanaugh is in contract negotiations at the moment. The job offer has to go through the state, and background checks must be done. But it appears that at long last, Cavanaugh will get the chance to put the lessons of Jerry York to the test.
Sources say Dave Berard is UConn’s second choice, if deal can’t be made with Mike Cavanaugh. George Gwozdecky no longer under consideration.
— Chip Malafronte (@ChipMalafronte) May 7, 2013
Long overdue news for Mike Cavanaugh. He has deserved his shot for too long. Really interested to see what he does with UConn hockey.
— Matthew Conyers (@MatthewConyers) May 7, 2013
Mike Cavanaugh is coming from BC to be UConn hockey coach. No he won’t be bringing an invitation to join the ACC with him.#badexpansionhumor
— Jeff Jacobs (@jacobscourant) May 7, 2013
If Cavanaugh does get the UConn job, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when York retires. Can’t imagine Cav not talking to BC.
— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin9) May 7, 2013