Coach Eric Lang of American International College (AIC) in Springfield, MA is one of the top head coaches in college hockey and should be a prime candidate to replace Jerry York at Boston College. What he’s done for the men’s hockey program at AIC is simply amazing and, given the opportunity, he could bring BC back to its national championship contending days of the last decade.
Why he’d be interested:
Boston College can offer Lang everything AIC can’t. Higher pay, vastly greater resources, high potential for national success, the opportunity to live much closer to Boston, and the prestige of coaching at a blue-blood. Virtually everything about BC’s program would be an upgrade from Lang’s current position at AIC.
But it should be noted that Eric Lang is AIC born-and-bred. He was a student, player, grad assistant, and now head coach at American International. If there’s any program that can pull him away, though, it’s a top-tier Boston school like BC or BU.
Why it could work:
Lang has been a revelation at AIC. To start his tenure, the Yellow Jackets were coming off of 22 consecutive losing seasons (1994-2016) and had never appeared in an NCAA tournament. By year 3, Lang had AIC at the top of Atlantic Hockey, in the NCAA tournament, and completing one of the greatest tournament upsets of recent memory over #1 St. Cloud State. And now the program is riding 3 straight conference championships with no sign of slowing down. Lang’s work there has been incredible to say the least.
At BC he could bring all of this success to an entirely new level. With the huge increase in resources and talent BC has at its disposal, Lang could absolutely start coaching the Eagles at a national championship level. He obviously knows how to make the best out of what he gets at AIC, so who knows what his limits could be with top-tier players and facilities.
Why it could flop:
The reason any promotion to this level could flop: inexperience at the blue-blood level. Lang has a lot of experience recruiting “diamond in the rough” type players, but would that translate once he’s going after the top recruits in every class? He makes the best out of middling prospects and beats out fellow AHA teams, but that kind of recruiting won’t be enough to win a national championship. Coaches like Cavanaugh and Leaman at least have some experience closer to this level, but Lang pretty much has none. Even his assistant coaching jobs were at programs like Army and Manhattanville College.
This being said, it’s generally a small concern. The college hockey recruiting landscape is rapidly changing and BC would probably prefer someone like Lang who knows how to adapt their approach rather than someone else who has been stuck in the one-and-done cycle we’ve seen so many programs fall into. We know Lang can coach really really well, and that’s what matters most.
How likely is this hire?
Fairly possible, but not probable. Lang would be one of the top choices for an “outside” hire (AKA someone who does not have roots at BC), along with the likes of Greg Carvel and Nate Leaman. Carvel seems plenty happy at UMass, and Leaman is rumored to be waiting for an NHL job, so Lang may be the most likely of this group.
I’d put his odds below BC-connected candidates like Greg Brown and Mike Cavanaugh, but not that much lower.