June 19, 2004
Bright's Future? Up Next at Harvard

By Joe Gladziszewski

When Harvard's hockey players opened their e-mail inboxes on Tuesday morning, they read the news that most people around college hockey expected. The program's head coach for the last five seasons, Mark Mazzoleni, was leaving the Crimson to take the same position with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League.

At Harvard, the search is already underway for a head coach of a program with a 104-year history that includes the 1989 NCAA Championship and three Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners.

BC assistant coach Ron Rolston

As is the case when any head coaching position opens, it didn't take long for the speculation to begin as to who would be Harvard's next head coach; in fact, much had taken place prior to Mazzoleni's official announcement. Several credible sources who spoke to Inside College Hockey on the condition of anonymity all pointed to Ron Rolston as the lead candidate for the position.

Rolston, an assistant under Jerry York at Boston College, spent three years as an assistant coach at Harvard, where his recruiting prowess and work with the team's defensive schemes and penalty killing helped the Crimson improve each year. He left Cambridge in the summer of 2002 to join York's staff with the Eagles.

Rolston is a 1990 graduate of Michigan Tech and was an assistant at Lake Superior State and Clarkson University prior to joining Harvard's staff when Mazzoleni became coach in the summer of 1999. Rolston did not return a phone message left by INCH earlier this week.

Harvard Director of Athletics Bob Scalise chose not to comment on the details of the search process.

Three former Harvard captains are also considered to be viable candidates.

Current Harvard assistant Sean McCann, a 1994 graduate of Harvard where he was a Hobey Baker finalist, has been a part of the Harvard coaching staff for the last two seasons.

Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon captained the Crimson during his senior season in 1992 and was a freshman on the 1989 national championship team. He spent five years as head coach at Union College before joining Vermont last summer.

Boston Bruin and Harvard alum Ted Donato

The third has no coaching experience. Boston Bruins forward Ted Donato is a 1991 graduate of Harvard and also played on the school's only National Championship team. The 13-year NHL veteran's first choice would be returning to the Bruins, according to Peter Fish, an ex-Boston University goalie and one of Donato's agents with Global Hockey Consultants, but the opportunity has peaked his interest.

"First and foremost, if there is a season next year, Teddy would like to be back with the Bruins and I think the Bruins would like to have him back," Fish said. "But with the uncertainty about the collective bargaining agreement, Teddy has to look out for what's best for him.

"What we've heard and what he has heard at this point is mostly rumor, but Teddy is one of a number of people who would be interested."

Fish said that Donato, who declined comment, has long considered coaching an option after his playing career, and said that he has what it takes to succeed.

"Teddy has always been a guy who would love to get involved in coaching once he's done playing," Fish said. "He'd be good with the kids, good with the community, and good with the alumni at Harvard."

Despite speculation, Nate Leaman is not a candidate for the position. The four-year Harvard assistant under Mazzoleni and current head coach at Union College said that he's not interested in pursuing the Harvard job.

"Personally, it would be real tough for me. There's a lot of momentum at Union right now," Leaman said.

There are several other names who sources have mentioned as possibilities, including Harvard alumni Ben Smith, the current head coach of the U.S. women's national team, and Tim Taylor, the longtime coach at Yale. Stan Moore, the interim head coach at Colgate this past season and a two-time ECAC Coach of the Year. There's also the possibility that Scalise could surprise everyone with his choice, as Princeton did in hiring Guy Gadowsky and Harvard did when it named Mazzoleni five years ago.

Harvard senior center Tom Cavanagh said the uncertainty surrounding the team's next coach won't have an impact on off-season preparations or outlook for the upcoming campaign.

"Our team is a very close bunch of guys and we're all on the same page anyway. It was a loss that coach left, but all of the guys are so close," Cavanagh said. "We've always had high expectations since I've been here and we're going to have them next year too."

The Mazzoleni era included three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and two ECAC Championships. The graduating class of 2004, which was the first to be fully recruited by Mazzoleni and his staff, is the only class in school history to graduate with two ECAC titles.

"We really felt that it was a family decision," Cavanagh said. "He felt that it was the right move for him and his family at this point in their lives."

Nate Ewell contributed to this report.

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