Northeastern Reaches Into Past for Madigan
by Scott McLaughlin/CHN Reporter
BOSTON Jim Madigan played a critical role in Northeastern’s golden age of hockey in the 1980s. He helped lead the Huskies to two Beanpot titles and a Final Four appearance as a player from 1981-85, and then contributed to another Beanpot title and NCAA appearance as an assistant coach from 1986-93.
As the next head coach of the Huskies, Madigan hopes to bring that glory that he got to experience back to his alma mater.
“At that time, Ferny Flaman and [assistant coach] Don McKenny were Northeastern hockey in so many different ways,” Madigan said Tuesday in his introductory press conference. “Their values, their ability to make us grow up as men, their ability to challenge us on the ice and off the ice. … That’s what I hope to implement.”
Madigan will have a bit of a learning curve before he’s able to achieve that, though. After all, he hasn’t coached in any capacity since he left the Northeastern bench in 1993. He has remained closely connected to both Northeastern and hockey, however.
Madigan served as a New England scout with the New York Islanders from 1993-2006 and then with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the last five years. Throughout all that, he has also held various positions at Northeastern, most recently serving as the associate dean and director of development in the university’s College of Business Administration since 2004.
“I have three passions: family, Northeastern and hockey,” Madigan said. “My family has allowed me to chase my other two passions, and now I’m at an intersection where Northeastern and hockey are coming together.”
Madigan said he’s already familiar with most of the players on the team because many of them visited him during their recruiting trips to the campus and have kept in touch with him since. He said he hopes to build on what Greg Cronin already had going rather than tearing anything down and starting new.
Madigan noted that the presence of assistant coach Sebastien LaPlante, who will remain with the program, should help make the transition easier. Madigan said he and LaPlante have been friends for a long time, and that he in fact helped recruit LaPlante to Northeastern in the late '80s.
LaPlante will miss the first six games of the season while serving a suspension for the program’s recruiting violations last season. Cronin, who left earlier this summer for an assistant coaching gig with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and then-assistant coach Albie O’Connell, who has since left for the same position at Harvard, both served their suspensions last season.
Northeastern athletic director Peter Roby said the violations and subsequent suspensions didn’t factor into the interview process or the decision on who to hire.
“It didn’t factor in because whatever I did with respect to the suspensions was consistent with my values,” Roby said. “The hiring of the new head coach was a continuation of a commitment to those values. You can’t have values with convenience; you have to have values with conviction. … I don’t think I looked at the candidates any differently than I would have had I not gone through that situation.”
While Northeastern now has an answer behind the bench, it still has questions about players. With defenseman Jamie Oleksiak signing with the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit on Monday, the Huskies now have to replace one of their best defenseman, not to mention their top four scorers from a season ago. On top of that, there have been rumors abound about recruits decommitting, both for this season and in the future.
Roby said both he and LaPlante had been in touch with Oleksiak and his family throughout the summer, and that he knew it was a tough decision for Oleksiak. Roby added that Northeastern doesn’t begrudge Oleksiak and that when he someday returns to Matthews Arena, he’ll be welcomed with open arms.