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Men’s hockey coach accepts position with NHL team

Northeastern Athletics.

Northeastern University men’s hockey coach Greg Cronin is heading back to the pros.

On Monday, Northeastern Athletics Director Peter Roby announced that Cronin has accepted an offer to become an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League.

Roby praised Cronin for his work, both on and off the Matthews Arena ice.

“I want to thank Greg for the incredible work he has done on behalf of this University and our student-athletes,” Roby said. “He has taken our hockey program to new heights. He’s advanced our relationships with alumni and friends of the program and he’s helped reshape our arena into one of the finest hockey venues in the nation.”

Cronin’s new position with the Leafs marks a return to professional hockey. From 1998 to 2003, he served as an assistant coach for the New York Islanders; from 2003-05 he served as head coach of the Islanders’ top American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

In six years behind the bench for Northeastern, Cronin rebuilt the Huskies into a national contender. He amassed an overall record of 84-104-29, including 71 wins over the last four seasons—the most victories over any four-year period in club history.

In the last three seasons, the Huskies qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994, twice reached the Hockey East semifinals and earned two trips to the Beanpot Championship.

In the 2008-09 campaign, Cronin’s crew climbed to No. 2 in the national rankings and tied the ’81-82 club record for victories in a season with 25. Cronin’s coaching job earned him the Bob Kullen Hockey East Coach of the Year award.

Under Cronin’s watch, 11 Huskies were drafted or signed by NHL clubs – including former Hockey East Player of the Year, Brad Thiessen – who served as a backup goaltender for the Pittsburg Penguins during the tail end of last season.

A national search for Cronin’s replacement will begin immediately. Assistant coach Sebastien Laplante, who joined the Northeastern coaching staff in 2008, will serve as the interim head coach and will be a candidate for the full-time position. Laplante played for the Huskies from 1989 to 1993.

“We look forward to building upon our recent success,” Roby said. “We will move quickly in our search, but will be thorough.”