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With summer recruiting season’s crucial opening stretch looming, Harvard has intensified its search for Mark Mazzoleni’s replacement as men’s hockey coach and will likely name a successor within the next week or two, barring any unforeseen difficulties.
“I think they are going to want to do it quick,” captain Noah Welch said. “The quicker we [name a new coach], the quicker we can recruit. You constantly recruit.”
Whether that time frame will hold for the four-person search committee headed by Director of Athletics Robert Scalise and Senior Associate Athletic Director Patricia Henry, however, remains to be seen. Following former head coach Ronn Tomassoni’s resignation on May 14, 1999, a quick selection was also forecast before multiple finalists withdrew from their names from contention, delaying Mazzoleni’s appointment to the post until July 21.
Two candidates—Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon ’92 and Union coach Nate Leaman, formerly Mazzoleni’s top assistant—have already disavowed interest in a spot behind the Crimson bench according to published reports.
Sneddon, who was a member of Harvard’s 1989 national championship team as a freshman, seemed to be a particularly attractive choice to follow Mazzoleni, thanks largely to his Harvard roots and presumptive comfort with influential alumni—many of whom were his teammates.
But with the Catamounts in the midst of a rebuilding era and preparing to jump conferences from the ECAC to Hockey East, Sneddon announced yesterday that he would opt to remain in Burlington rather than pursue the Crimson job.
“Harvard University and its hockey program will always be dear to my heart,” Sneddon said in a press release explaining his decision. “However, the University of Vermont has presented a great opportunity for our coaching staff as well as our student-athletes, and I am proud to be leading the program...I made a commitment to UVM and plan to be here for a long time.”
Still, a lengthy list of potential candidates remains and the athletic department has done little to tip its hand.
Ron Rolston, formerly an assistant coach at Harvard prior to accepting a similar job at Boston College, remains one of the strongest candidates in the field. Before Mazzoleni’s resignation, Rolston was widely regarded as a potential successor to the Eagles’ legendary head man, Jerry York, and his name had been bandied about for several other openings.
Current assistant coaches Gene Reilly and Sean McCann ’94 have likely submitted resumes as well, according to Welch.
Of the two, Reilly seems the more plausible candidate. Though McCann was both Crimson captain and a Hobey Baker finalist in his day, he has spent just two years as an assistant. Reilly, on the other hand, has extensive experience behind the bench, highlighted by time spent as Maine’s interim head coach.
Stan Moore—named last year’s ECAC Coach of the Year while serving as Colgate’s interim head man—presents yet another viable option as he would return to his assistant’s post in Hamilton should he stay.
According to U.S. Hockey Report (USHR), though, Harvard’s next coach may have no experience behind the bench whatsoever, instead plucked straight from the NHL ranks.
Current Boston Bruin Ted Donato ’91, whom USHR reports as having paid at least one trip to the area since Mazzoleni’s departure, has been at the center of several similar rumors, which have, at least thus far, proven to be just that.
Scalise did not respond to several requests for comment.
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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