May 12, 2014 Updated: May 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm
New Colorado College coach Mike Haviland is appreciated as a leader who knows his players well.
That may prove critical in the demanding balancing act of academics and athletics at the National Collegiate Hockey Conference program.
The Division I hockey team, along with women's soccer, was recognized last week by the NCAA for an academic progress rate in the top 10 percent for 2009-10 to 2012-13. The Tigers were honored last year for 2008-09 to 2011-12 as well.
That high graduation rate, embraced by Haviland's predecessor Scott Owens, is a priority. His new bosses also want more victories. If Haviland can accomplish both, his tenure will be considered as success.
"I know the school wants that and nothing will change in that way at all," he said. "I am committed to excellence in the classroom."
Haviland, 46, said he will hold players accountable on the ice and in the classroom. Of course that can mean taking it easy on them periodically if it helps players juggle practices, games, travel and the classroom demands of the block plan, which has finals every few weeks.
"If they need a day off, they'll get it," he said. "That usually means a better practice the next day."
That is a lesson he learned as a professional coach (15 years, 20 overall), which applies to his new job, said former CC standout and Washington Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen.
"The pros and college are quite different but as a coach you still have to gauge the energy level of your team," Hillen said. "College has different demands with academics involved. But the principle is the same."
The NHL blue-liner added that he thought Haviland was a great hire based on his professionalism and attention to detail during Hillen's rehabilitation stint in Hershey, the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate.
"He gets to know his players better than any professional coach I have ever had," said former Tiger Mark Cullen, who just completed his 13th pro season, including 2005-06 under Haviland in AHL Norfolk. "He may be the best at seeing when his team needs rest, whether it's fatigue from three games in three nights like in the pros or at a challenging academic school like CC. I think he is a great fit."
Meet the new coach
The public is invited to welcome Mike Haviland as Colorado College hockey's new coach at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Great Hall of the El Pomar Sports Center, 44 W. Cache La Poudre St., on the CC campus.
The event is open to Tiger fans and their guests. A reception with light refreshments follows. There will be a live stream of the press conference on CCTigers.com.
Parking is limited in front of the complex. Additional parking is available off Glen Avenue in a public city parking lot as well as by the train tracks. Overflow parking will be available in Lot C-1 (off East Uintah Street), E-1 lot (on the southeast corner of East Uintah and Nevada) and S-1 lot (south of Wooglin's Deli off Tejon).