VIP Insider Post #91 (4/24)


Exclusively for our VIP supporters, TMR editor Mike McMahon brings you these “insider” posts, where he’ll discuss the news and give some insight and perspective on the stories we’re covering here at The Mack Report as well other insider info from stories around the country …

— UAA finally has a head coach! Matt Curley was named the coach on Saturday afternoon. That ends a LONG process for the UAA athletic department, where according to sources, three candidates declined the job. Those who declined include David Carle (Denver assistant), Cam Ellsworth (UMass Lowell assistant) and Kris Mayotte (Providence assistant). I don’t know much about Curley, but talking to some coaches around the country early this week, he’s highly regarded. A lot of people think he’ll do well. What’s “well” is relative, though. UAA has had one winning season since 1993. One! There are a lot of obstacles in the way at UAA, and it’s not limited to just being in Alaska.

It’s hard to recruit there. Also, the team practices on NHL ice and plays on Olympic ice. It’s hard to build a team that can compete on an Olympic sheet, unless you can get fast, skilled players. UAA is going to have a hard time attracting those players.

Also, I was told that the salary just wasn’t enough to attract top candidates.

— Across the state, UAF is still trying to find its next head coach. According to several sources, former Miami assistant Brent Brekke turned down the job, and Lance West, who served in an interim role this past season and now was passed over for the head coaching job, may also not even get offered the position.

The person I’d like to see get the job is Trevor Stewart, who is the head coach with the Fairbanks NAHL team. Fairbanks isn’t Anchorage. It’s not a developed, big city. It’s in the middle of Alaska, and in the winter, it can sometimes only get three hours of daylight. It’s not an attractive location.

UAF’s best bet is to go after an Alaska guy … like Stewart. He’s good, he’s young, and he already lives in Fairbanks (one of the best NAHL teams traditionally). He’s figured out a way to get players to want to play in Fairbanks. I think he’ll do really well, and most importantly for UAF, he won’t embarrass the school by turning the job down.

— BU head coach David Quinn was named the head coach of the 2019 U.S. WJC team. On Twitter, several writers speculated that it meant he was out of the running for the New York Rangers job. I don’t see why him being named the WJC coach means he won’t be taking the Rangers job, if it’s offered to him.

According to some people in college hockey who I trust, the Rangers are probably going to hire a college coach. That seems to be who they’re targeting, and media reports out of New York back that up. Quinn is the best candidate among college coaches. He has NHL experience as an assistant and he’s been a head coach in the AHL. He’s the only college candidate with pro experience. Jim Montgomery (Denver) was the other candidate listed, along with Scott Sandelin at Minnesota-Duluth. Sandelin is the next in line, if the Rangers are hiring a college coach. Montgomery’s style won’t translate well to the NHL, in my opinion. I don’t think NHL players will take to his style of coaching. It’s amazing how closely Montgomery is being linked with NHL jobs, considering his only coaching experience has been in college and the USHL. That’s why Quinn makes the most sense to me as a college coach jumping to pro hockey … he’s been there before.

And this USA Hockey job was probably worked out weeks, if not months ago. If Quinn took the Rangers job, USA Hockey would pivot and hire another coach to run the WJC team. I don’t think it “embarrasses” USA Hockey if a guy takes an NHL job. Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings is on Quinn’s staff … I could see him just sliding over and taking the head coaching role on the team this December.

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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