By JON PAUL MOROSI
CRIMSON STAFF WRITER
When Harvard men’s hockey coach Mark Mazzoleni needed to find someone to work with the team’s defensemen, he looked no further than to one of the school’s all-time greats at the position.
Sean McCann ’94, one of just three defensemen in the 105-year history of Harvard Hockey to earn First Team All-American honors, was named an assistant coach on Tuesday. McCann replaces Ron Rolston, who left Harvard in May to join the coaching staff at Boston College.
“We had a very qualified group of applicants, and they were all impressive, but when it came down to it [McCann] was the best choice,” Mazzoleni said. “When you talk to anyone who’s been around this program for the last 10 or 12 years, and you ask them which players showed the most character and competitiveness, [McCann’s] name is the first mentioned every time.”
McCann, one of seven Hobey Baker finalists in school history, wrapped up a career in the AHL and IHL last season. Now he is looking forward to stepping behind the bench at his alma mater.
“I am extremely excited to be coming back to Harvard,” McCann said. “My experiences as a student-athlete were exceptional, and I have fond memories of the people I came to know.”
McCann has never coached before, but Mazzoleni doesn’t see that as a liability.
“He played six years of professional hockey, and he played for five coaches who had coached in the NHL at some point,” Mazzoleni said. “It’s not like he’s coming right out of college. He’s played one step away from the NHL.
“Sean has been a team captain and a leader, and you need that in a coach,” added Mazzoleni, noting that McCann was a senior class marshal at Harvard. “He’s a very bright individual, and when you combine that with professional experience, he brings a tremendous amount to the program.”
As a senior during the 1993-94 season, McCann captained the Crimson to ECAC regular season and tournament championships, as well as the NCAA semifinals. Last year, Harvard won the ECAC tournament title and cracked the NCAA field for the first time since McCann’s final season in uniform.
McCann played in an era in which winning was the norm for Crimson hockey. During his four years with the team, Harvard went 74-30-16, won one Beanpot, three ECAC regular season titles and one ECAC tournament title and made two NCAA tournament appearances.
McCann hopes to pick up where he left off with a team that boasts 13 NHL draftees, more than any other team in the ECAC.
“It is a great time to be a part of Harvard Hockey,” he said. “Mark Mazzoleni and [assistant coach] Nate Leaman are impressive individuals who have brought success back to the program with an ECAC tournament title. I look forward to working with them and the talented group of student-athletes to help the team and its individual members realize their potential.”
McCann, a native of North York, Ont., a suburb of Toronto, appeared in 120 games in his four-year career, scoring 32 goals and assisting on 43 others.
McCann’s 22 goals during his senior season are the most ever in a season by a Harvard defenseman. He is also the school record-holder in career penalties with 124.
While it remains to be seen if any of the Crimson’s current blue-liners will put up such strong numbers, McCann is inheriting a defensive corps that has steadily improved over the past two seasons. With five NHL draftees manning the blue line, Harvard’s defense should be among the best in the league.
In addition to his work with the defensemen, McCann will look to fill Rolston’s role as a top recruiter.
“He’s gone through the challenges of being a student-athlete at Harvard, and that’s going to add a great perspective when it comes to recruiting,” Mazzoleni said.
McCann begins his new job on July 1.
—Staff Writer Jon Paul Morosi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org