Woodcroft brings NHL vets Babcock, Stuart to UVM
New UVM men's hockey coach adds a pair of NHL veterans to his new coaching staff
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont men’s hockey head coach Todd Woodcroft announced his coaching staff structure ahead of the 2020-21 campaign Wednesday afternoon. Jeff Hill ’08 will remain as an Assistant Coach, former NHL defenseman Mark Stuart will begin his coaching career as a Volunteer Assistant Coach and Mike Babcock will join the Catamounts as a Volunteer Advisor to the Coaching Staff. The final assistant coaching position has yet to be filled.
Jeff Hill will return for his sixth season on the men’s hockey staff. He has proven to be instrumental in the coaching transition and his responsibilities will continue to grow under new Coach Woodcroft. “I have only known Jeff for a few months but I feel like I have worked alongside him for years,” said Woodcroft. “His passion for UVM Athletic success is tangible and his desire to make the men’s ice hockey team nationally relevant is admirable. He is diligent, demanding and harmonious. Our players are fortunate to have a person like Jeff who cares with every fiber of his being about their successes, both on and off the ice.”
Beginning his Catamount coaching career as a Volunteer Assistant Coach is former Colorado College player Mark Stuart. Stuart is a veteran of 673 NHL contests along with another 150 professional games across the globe. Stuart is a graduate of the USNTDP program and was a 2003 first round draft pick of the Boston Bruins. During his time with the US National Program, he served as a team captain, helping the US win its first ever World Junior Gold Medal in 2004 and another Gold Medal at the U18 level. His leadership was further recognized when he was named assistant captain of the Winnipeg Jets and team captain for the US at 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championships.
“Often as a coach, you learn more from the players than they learn from you,” stated Woodcroft. “Working with Mark in Winnipeg and watching him approach his career as if every day were his last was something that always stood out to me. When the process to hire a coaching staff began, the question started with a “what” versus a “who”. Mark hit every aspect of the “what” and I know that his approach to this job will be reflective of everything I ever saw from Mark as a professional - he will earn the right to represent this team every single day. Players can expect to learn daily from Mark what it takes to be a professional - on and off the ice.”
Mike Babcock will be joining the Catamounts as a Volunteer Advisor to the coaching staff. Babcock is a veteran of over 1300 NHL Games (Anaheim, Detroit and Toronto), winning a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008. He coached Team Canada on several occasions winning a Gold Medal five times - two Olympics (2010 in Vancouver and 2014 in Sochi); one World Junior Championship (1997), one World Championship (2004) and one World Cup (2016). Babcock’s role will be to serve as a resource for the coaching staff, lending his experience and perspective as one of the top hockey minds in the world.
Coach Woodcroft on what adding Babcock’s level of high-end experience can mean for UVM hockey, “Mike and I have been connected for over 15 years (winning a Gold Medal together in 2004) and our network goes back even further to our McGill University experience. He is a premier coach across any athletic platform and as a coaching staff we are very fortunate to be able to draw from his experiences. Mike’s knowledge, his network and above all else, the modern lens he uses to look at the game of hockey will help accelerate the progression of our entire program.”
Courtesy: UVM Sports Information
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