September 19, 2003
Future Watch
Inside College Hockey looks at the game's greatest coaches five years from now

Monday: 11 Coaches' Resolutions for the year that we Found on a Cocktail Napkin
Tuesday: 16 Greatest Coaches
Wednesday: The Dean's List on Great Coaches
Today: Minnesota's Don Lucia

The college hockey landscape will look much different five years from now.

No, we’re not talking about robotic linesmen (although, come to think of it …). Instead, consider the legendary coaches who probably won’t be behind the bench at that point – Jack Parker, Red Berenson, and possibly Jerry York, just to name three.

With that in mind, here’s a look at Inside College Hockey’s take on who the top 10 coaches will be as we enter the 2008-09 season.

1. Don Lucia

You’ve got to think his string of titles – currently at two – won’t be intact as we enter 2008-09. But there’s no way we’d bet against him adding to his trophy case between now and then. Consider his recruiting class this year, which brings in two elite forwards to a team that lost nothing up front. The Gophers will be good as long as Lucia is at the helm.

2. Don Cahoon

He’s crafted a winner at Princeton and a top-10 caliber team at Massachusetts. But will he still be there in five years? Here’s our thinking – it doesn’t matter if he stays in Amherst or bolts for Boston University to take over for his former coach, Jack Parker – either way he’ll be among the very best in the game.

3. Dean Blais

The parade of top offensive talent he’s recruited has worn a path to Ralph Engelstad Arena. Despite a slight dip in 2001-02, he’s kept the Fighting Sioux at a nationally competitive level, and this year’s team could contend for the national title. It’s only been three years since Blais won his second title in 2000 – we’re betting that he’ll add at least a third by 2008-09.

4. Mike Schafer

Cornell won’t go 23 years without a Frozen Four appearance again. Not with Schafer behind the bench, a coach who combines great recruiting and an intense style of play that his players commit to. What the Lynah Faithful may like best about Schafer is his appreciation of the school’s history, and his expectation that Cornell should compete for conference and national titles every year.

5. Dick Umile

Here’s the thing about playing in big games – it’s not like the other team doesn’t belong there either. So while Umile might move up this list with an NCAA title or two in the next five years, he doesn’t need one to be regarded as a great coach. Those who know how good he is will be pulling for him to get one – as Don Lucia admitted he would have been last April, if only he wasn’t on the opposing bench.

6. Mel Pearson

Don’t be fooled by the fact that he doesn’t have a head coaching job yet – a number of schools would have loved to have hired Pearson away from Michigan. He’s wisely biding his time until Red Berenson’s retirement, at which point he’s the odds-on favorite (think Reagan in ’84) to take over the Wolverines. He deserves a ton of credit for their success over the past dozen years.

7. Bob Daniels

Last year’s CCHA title was no fluke – Daniels has been getting the most out of his Ferris State teams for years. A fantastic measure of his success is his players’ improvement while in school – with the recently departed Chris Kunitz and Troy Milam being perfect examples.

8. Ron Rolston

Another who’s not a head coach yet, Boston College assistant Rolston is constantly mentioned as a head coaching candidate. When he takes one – whether it’s at BC, where Jerry York will be 62 in 2008, or elsewhere – we think he’s destined for success. He’s got a strong work ethic and a good eye for talent.

9. Mark Mazzoleni

Miami is called the Cradle of Coaches, a moniker is initially earned in football. With the success of Mazzoleni and another former RedHawk (or Redskin) coach, George Gwozdecky, the name applies to hockey as well. Mazzoleni has revived the Harvard program and the best is yet to come, despite the loss of the team’s best player, Dominic Moore, to graduation.

10. Scott Owens

Not too many people were sure what to make of last year’s Colorado College team entering the season – but Owens made them into the top team over the course of the regular season. He’s a terrific recruiter, as seen in talent like Brett Sterling and Mark Stuart, and he learned valuable lessons from the No. 1 man on this list, former CC coach Don Lucia.

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