Monday, April 28, 2014
Whitten to take helm of Lakers
Over the weekend Lake Superior State University held a press conference to name Damon Whitten the new head coach of the hockey program. He is the 10th coach in the history of Laker hockey. Whitten was an assistant coach at WCHA rival Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI, before taking the LSSU job. He has also worked as director of hockey operations at Michigan State under form Laker player and coach Rick Comley, and has also served as an assistant coach at Wayne State and Alaska-Anchorage.
"He has surrounded himself with some of the best that college hockey has to offer with who he was coached with, coached for and coached under," LSSU Athletic Director Kris Dunbar stated at the press conference. "I'm really excited for his time now to be a head coach here."
In his younger years, Whitten hoped to don the anchor and play for the Lakers, but was not made an offer by then head coach Jeff Jackson.
"Over 20 years ago, I sat up in Taffy Abel in his office waiting for an offer from Jeff Jackson to be a Laker, and had he offered me at the time, I would have been a part of this family back then," Whitten said. "It's 20 years later and I'm finally joining the Laker family and I'm very excited to do that."
I hate to point out, however, that the arena was not dubbed Taffy Abel 20 years ago, it was just the Norris Center before the renovations Jackson initiated, and his office was located in the other athletic department staff across from the gymnasium.
Anyway, the Brighton, MI, native decided to be a walk-on at Michigan State and play for another former Laker coach, Ron Mason. Whitten went on to serve as an assistant captain his senior year and become part of the most successful class in Spartan hockey history.
"That four years with Coach Mason was a huge influence on me as a player and as a coach in my development and my aspiration to get to this level. What struck me is looking up an seeing Ron Mason, the founder of this program, up on the walls," Whitten stated. "He handed this program off to Rick Comley, who was his first captain, and Rick took over as the second head coach in Laker hockey history. Jeff Jackson built this into a powerhouse program."
I think we'd have to give Frank Anzalone some credit for programs success, too. I do wish Whitten and the Lakers all the best of luck this coming season. The team failed to make the WCHA playoffs, and we're hoping Whitten can right the ship here at Lake State and be competitive.
"Our job will begin immediately to reach out to alumni, fans, recruits, and the community during our quest to restore Laker hockey. Our family is very excited to join the Sault Ste. Marie community and become part of the Laker hockey family."
Photos courtesy of LSSU Athletic Dept.