Multiple news outlets are now reporting that Northeastern hockey head coach Greg Cronin is leaving the Huskies to take an assistant coach position with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Northeastern becomes the third Hockey East program to lose its head coach in the offseason. Earlier this year, Providence replaced Tim Army with Nate Leaman, while UMass-Lowell fired Blaise MacDonald and hired Norm Bazin.
Cronin has been the head coach at Northeastern since the 2005 season, compiling a record of 84-104-29.
A national search will begin immediately for Cronin's replacement, while assistant coach Sebastien Laplante will serve as interim HC and will be a candidate for the full-time gig. Laplante served as coach of the Huskies last season, as Cronin was suspended for six games for recruiting violations.
Results under Cronin at Northeastern were mixed. While he did get the Huskies to their first NCAA Tournament since 1994 (2008-09), Northeastern averaged just 25 1/3 points in Hockey East play over the last three years (including missing the Hockey East Tournament entirely in 2005-06 and 2009-10). That point average is good for sixth best in the conference behind New Hampshire, BU, BC, Maine and Vermont.
I've always felt that Northeastern was a bit of a sleeping giant in Hockey East. Playing in the heart of Boston in the oldest indoor ice hockey arena in the country (yet newly renovated!), Northeastern seems like one of the better college hockey jobs in HEA. It's also an opportunity to build a program at a school that recently cancelled its football program, giving the hockey program the chance to be the top varsity program on campus (if it isn't already). Cronin's Huskies were also just 4-8 in the all-important Beanpot Tournament in his six seasons, including two last-place finishes.
It will be interesting to see who Northeastern turns to here, and whether Cronin's successor can build on his modest success in six seasons on Huntington Ave.