The void that existed in Kalamazoo with the departure of head coach Jeff Blashill has now been filled by former NHL coach Andy Murray. NHL.com covered the story and you can read it here. You can read the previous column on Jeff Blashill's transition here.
And so it seems that in an odd turn of events, the NHL giveth and the NHL taketh away. The departure of coach Blashill was difficult for many because in his single season of coaching the Broncos became, once again, a post-season contender in NCAA hockey. However, with the arrival of Andy Murray, it seems that there is a solid transition to another coach who understands winning, and on the biggest stage in the hockey world.
With coaching tenures in both L.A. and St. Louis, Andy Murray brings a wealth of knowledge from the NHL. All of a sudden, Western Michigan University has ties to NHL teams, and that is attractive to players as they consider different schools. The choice of collegiate hockey is becoming more and more viable for those with NHL ambitions, and there is security in receiving a quality education. The ability to stay with a team for four years while being protected from being traded gives a lot of opportunity for stability and development. The edge that Western Michigan University is gaining is a spotlight in the state of Michigan. With a successful transition for Jeff Blashill, many will look to WMU with added interest.
It will be interesting to see the year the Broncos produce under new leadership. The hiring of Andy Murray, like the hiring of Jeff Blashill by Detroit, seems to go against the grain of what many expect with such a short time-line before conditioning camps begin. It seemed to many that an assistant coach in the CCHA (or video coach) would be called up for an opportunity, and there would again be a shift across the division as gaps were filled. Instead, the Broncos chose a completely fresh approach and embraced the NHL spotlight. It seems a smart move that will help them continue in the right direction, only time will tell.