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Pro success, connections may boost new Colorado College hockey coach's recruiting efforts

May 11, 2014 Updated: May 12, 2014 at 4:11 pm
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photo - Chicago Blackhawks' assistant coach Mike Haviland, center, yells instructions from the bench as Jake Dowell, left, and John Scott listen, during the second period of their NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 in Chicago. Haviland assumed the head coach duties against the Wild after an undisclosed illiness landed head coach Joel Quenneville in the hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Blackhawks' assistant coach Mike Haviland, center, yells instructions from the bench as Jake Dowell, left, and John Scott listen, during the second period of their NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 in Chicago. Haviland assumed the head coach duties against the Wild after an undisclosed illiness landed head coach Joel Quenneville in the hospital. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)  

That big, shiny Stanley Cup ring on new Colorado College coach Mike Haviland's finger could be a tremendous asset in recruiting.

Haviland, who won the 2010 NHL championship as an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks, has that instant credibility and his extensive contacts in North America's professional hockey leagues to aid him in finding the best players available for the Tigers.

He is friends with a dozen NHL general managers and knows almost all the American Hockey League coaches and executives after 15 years in the pros, most recently leading the Hershey Bears.

Knowing he has those connections may sway recruits and provide an edge over National Collegiate Hockey Conference coaches with more traditional college connections.

"He's charismatic and he wants to recruit kids who will play hard and accept constructive criticism," Hershey radio announcer Scott Stuccio said on 1300 AM. "He was very good with our players and fans and that will translate in college."

Haviland, 46, also coached four years in the ECHL, winning two league championships. Including a couple of years as a Division III college assistant at alma mater Elmira (N.Y)., he knows hockey people all over.

"I have guys who played for me and with me all over the country coaching in juniors and high school," he said. "Lots of people don't realize that the ECHL is about recruiting and finding guys. I have a lot of ties in the (U.S. Hockey League) and colleges, especially in the East and Northeast."

Haviland promises a hard-working team that plays aggressive, up-tempo hockey with players who are strong at the point of attack and pressure puckhandlers. He will look for offensive production from the defensemen in a Tigers program that usually finds academically qualified players from Colorado, the Midwest and western Canada.

He will recruit for speed as his predecessor Scott Owens did, especially on the Olympic sheet at The Broadmoor World Arena. He will not shy away from signing smaller skaters.

"Speed kills at whatever level you play," he said. "We will have the hardest-working team in the league. I don't look at the size. I coached a player named Patrick Kane who everyone said was too small.

"If we need some size at a specific spot then we will find it. I will know after a couple practices what we need."

He promises to work hard to find the right pieces for what he hopes will be a league- and national championship-contending program again. He looks to 2013 champion Yale and new titlist Union as examples.

"You have to go out and overturn every rock," he said. "You have to work hard to find the kind of player that will represent CC in the right way on and off the ice, but you can."

There may be one more signing before Aug. 1, assistant Eric Rud has said.

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