Boston College just announced that Greg Brown will be returning to Conte Forum to take over head coaching duties for the men’s hockey team. I’ve always said that I hoped Brown would be the one to take over when Jerry York retired, so I may be biased, but here are some reasons why this hire was the right choice...
He has proven success as a coach. Brown was part of the Boston College coaching staff during the best years in program history, when BC won 3 National Championships, numerous Hockey East Tournaments, and tons of Beanpots (including 5 straight from 2010-2014). He returns to BC knowing what this program is capable of, and knowing what it looked like when the Eagles were achieving those levels of success. And in one season in the USHL, he coached the Fighting Saints to a 32-16 record, good for second in their conference and a spot in the playoff quarterfinals. Last season, the team went just 24-23.
He’s worked with Coach York and he’s loyal to BC. Boston College men’s hockey will always be synonymous with Jerry York, and hiring someone who coached with York for so many years will make this transition easier for everyone involved. Having a coach who learned from York feels like it sets BC up for success and will help the team get back to where everyone wants it to be. Additionally, Brown’s loyalty to BC sets him up to be a long-term coach assuming his teams are winners. Brown’s coaching career has seemed designed to set him up to be ready for this job whenever York retired, and it is nice to not have to worry about a coach leaving for another job.
Fans and supporters like him. Having buy in from the boosters and fans is always a plus for a new coach, and Brown (for the most part) has that. There will always be people with something negative to say, but in general the attitude around Brown seems to be that he’s a good guy and a good coach, and if you’re taking over for “the nicest guy in college hockey” it sure helps to be likable yourself.
He has the support of program alumni. Over the past few days, numerous Boston College men’s hockey alumni have come out in support of Greg Brown. From Edwin Shea and Nathan Gerbe to Marc McLaughlin and Logan Hutsko (via Instagram stories), former players had good things to say about Coach Brown. It says a lot that players who won NCAA Championships with Brown feel strongly that he is the right guy from the job, and it also says a lot that more recent players have enough of a connection to him to enthusiastically support this hire.
He is a good sell for recruits. Brown has pretty much everything you could want in a new head coach in terms of recruiting. He’s a former NHL player, as is his brother, and his nephews Patrick and Christopher currently play in the NHL and AHL respectively. He has college coaching experience from his time at BC, but has also coached in the NHL. He has connections to big recruiting pools like USA Hockey and the USHL, and he also has the connections to put together a supporting staff that will fill in his gaps. If you’re going to bring in a head coach who hasn’t led an NCAA bench before, you want someone with Brown’s background and connections.
His specialties are what the team needs. When coaching at BC, one of Brown’s big responsibilities was special teams. The Eagles generally have a pretty decent penalty kill, but in recent years the team’s power play has been rough. Bringing back a coach who has shown that he is skilled in improving special teams play is huge for a BC squad that really needs that. As a former defenseman, Brown also specializes in coaching for defensive play. This is an area where BC should be able to make some pretty immediate changes with the right coach - the Eagles have the defensive skill, but players have consistently been sloppy and too focused on offense to live up to their defensive potential in recent years.
The common criticism against Brown’s hire seems to be that he doesn’t have proven success as an NCAA head coach, and replacing Jerry York is a big ask for any coach. But between his coaching experience on the whole, what he’ll bring to the recruiting process, and his personal coaching specialties, this is a hire BC fans should feel optimistic about.