The Northeastern University hockey coaching staff will have a definite University of Maine flavor this season.
Colby College graduate and former Mules assistant Greg Cronin, the new head coach at NU, had two different coaching stints at Maine including one as the interim head coach while Shawn Walsh was serving a one-year suspension for NCAA violations.
One of Cronin’s assistants at NU is Gene Reilly, a former Black Bear assistant, and another is former hard-nosed Bear captain Brendan Walsh.
The 42-year-old Cronin, who has a home in Scarborough with wife Carol (Morneault), has compiled an impressive resume.
In addition to his time at Maine, he has been an assistant and recruiting coordinator at Colorado College; the head coach of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program squad; an assistant with the NHL’s New York Islanders and, most recently, the head coach of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL.
He has also been the director of player development for the NTDP program and for the Islanders.
Cronin has always been a straight shooter with an exceptional work ethic and intense passion for the game.
He credits the late Walsh for helping formulate his coaching philosophy.
“Shawn was a once-in-a-lifetime guy. He was lightning in a bottle. I was very fortunate to spend several years with him. He touched a lot of people’s lives,” said Cronin.
Like Walsh, Cronin will build his team “from the goal out.”
His defensemen will be “big and mobile and they’ll be able to think.”
He’ll have a blend of speed, creativity and grit up front.
When asked how it feels to be back coaching at the college level, he quipped “I don’t know.
“I’ve been on the job four and a half months and I haven’t talked about hockey,” he joked.
That’s because he has been involved with the administrative aspects of being a college head coach: Recruiting, fund-raising, scheduling and digesting the NCAA rules and regulations.
“I’ve got one of those 6-by-9 steno notebooks where you list your daily things to do. I used to go through one a year in the NHL and AHL. I’ve already gone through three in four months here,” joked the Boston native. “The sheer volume of things you have to do is overwhelming.”
He requires people who work for him to be to be “motivated internally and passionate” about their jobs. Overachievers Brendan Walsh and Reilly certainly fit that mold.
Cronin knows Northeastern has often been overshadowed by fellow Beanpot schools Boston University, Boston College and Harvard.
He doesn’t care.
He is confident they can build an NCAA Tournament team.
“People say it can’t be done but I thrive in those environments. I don’t live in a world of can’ts, don’ts and but’s,” said Cronin, who had no intention of returning to college coaching until he saw the remarkable renovations at his father Don’s alma mater. His dad captained NU’s 1958-59 hockey team.
“The [positive] buzz and vibe is scary. They had 28,000 applications for 2,400 spots. It’s a dramatically different school than it used to be,” said Cronin, who was also impressed with athletic director Dave O’Brien’s progressive approach to the future.
It’s good to have Cronin back in the college game.
Larry Mahoney can be reached at 990-8231, 1-800-310-8600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.