Northeastern Set to Name Madigan Head Coach
by Joe Meloni/CHN Staff Writer
Northeastern is expected to name alumnus Jim Madigan its new coach at a Tuesday news conference, according to numerous reports. He replaces Greg Cronin, who accepted a position as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this summer.
Madigan played at Northeastern from 1981-85, recording 38 goals and 78 points in 119 games. He then became an assistant coach at Northeastern for six seasons — serving under Fern Flaman, Don McKenney and Ben Smith — and Vermont for one.
Madigan went on to spend 13 years in the New York Islanders scouting department, before moving to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006. He has continued to be the Penguins' amateur scout for New England while also holding a position in Northeastern's development office.
Neither Northeastern athletic director Peter Roby nor Madigan were available for a comment.
Taking over a program 74 days before the season opener would be tough for any new coach. However, Madigan's charge became even more difficult upon the news that Jamie Oleksiak, a rising sophomore defenseman and first-round pick of the Dallas Stars in June's NHL Entry Draft, had left Northeastern to sign with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.
Additionally, there is no word if the university or Madigan reached out to Oleksiak prior to his decision in a final attempt to keep the 6-foot-7 blue liner on Huntington Avenue for at least one more season.
Aside from the discussions about Oleksiak's future, rumors regarding the statuses of recruits John Gaudreau and Garrett Harr — both of whom were selected in the draft — were unknown following the draft. Madigan's hire will likely spell a final decision for both players, who some believe had already opted to return to the USHL for another season should they refuse to play for Northeastern without Cronin.
The decision to hire Madigan may seem like a clear choice for some given his ties to the university and work within the athletic department — especially following the suspension of Cronin and former NU assistant Albie O'Connell in February for recruiting violations. However, Madigan has not coached at any level since leaving his post at Northeastern in 1993, and he has never been a head coach before. Sebastien Laplante, who was an assistant under Cronin and interim head coach during Cronin's suspension, also interviewed for the vacancy before Madigan was hired.
While the decision does provide some closure for players, fans and others within the program, other names in consideration had more immediate experience — namely Darren Yopyk, who accepted a scouting position with the Minnesota Wild after two years with the Westside Warriors of the BCHL.
Yopyk had a large hand in the emergence of Merrimack, as many of the players most responsible for the Warriors run to the NCAA Tournament run signed in North Andover, Mass., due to Yopyk's recruiting influence. Also, the Huskies were thought to be courting current Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy upon Cronin's departure. The overtures from Northeastern were among the primary reasons for the contract extension Merrimack gave Dennehy in June.