Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Communication, fiery attitude key to new CC coach Mike Haviland's success

By Joe Paisley Updated: May 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm

New Colorado College hockey coach Mike Haviland will make it clear to referees and his players exactly what he thinks.

They may not always enjoy it, but they will know.

"He has a fiery attitude, hates to lose and really brings it on the bench," Hershey Bears radio announcer Scott Stuccio said on 1300 AM. "The referees may not always like what he has to say but they respect him. He really knows how to diagram a play and take advantage of the other team."

His skill as a communicator is one of his strengths as a coach and contributed to his 348-186-71 minor league coach career mark, one of his former players said.

Former Tigers defenseman Gabe Guentzel played for Norfolk of the American Hockey League two seasons ago when Haviland served as an assistant with the Admirals. The longtime coach with 20 years experience, 15 in the pros, moved on to lead the Bears last offseason.

"He would have been the only reason I would have stayed in North America," said Guentzel, who played in northern Italy last season. "He will tell you exactly what you need to hear, not always what you want. Constructive criticism really appeals to college kids."

Haviland, a New York native who grew up in New Jersey, was announced Friday as the 14th coach to lead the 75-year-old National Collegiate Hockey Conference program. He replaces longtime coach Scott Owens who resigned in early April.

Clear expectations are a comfort for players adjusting to a new coach and playing style

"He's very open to talking about things," said freshman defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who met him during the hiring process. "He was good at communicating his expectations when we talked. That is something the team will embrace."

"I think it may be the most important thing," incoming defenseman Garrett Cecere said.

The 1990 Devils draft pick, Haviland, 46, spent much of Friday assuring fans he will put down roots in Colorado Springs. There is some concern since Haviland expressed a desire to lead an NHL team as recently as two years ago.

He had his chances. In 2012, he was a finalist for the Washington job that went to the now-fired Adam Oates.

"I have been a bridesmaid for two NHL jobs," he said. "But you have to consider quality of life. I was blown away during my (interview) visit. It felt like my days at Elmira (as a player and assistant). I knew leaving there that if I got the job I would take it."

He and his fiancee, Kristin, have six children together; three each from a previous marriage. He is looking for more stability; a luxury in coaching.

"There is a reason there are so many coaches who stay 15 years or more," he said. "This is a premier job and they do not come open often. My aspirations now are to join the Colorado Springs community and win national championships."

Fans will be happy if he sets down roots, especially if the Tigers (7-24-6 last season), enjoy more success. Stuccio expects they will.

"We're losing a great guy and CC is getting a good one," he said. "It sounds like a home run for him and the school."

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