Anastos leaves CCHA to become Michigan State coach

Tom Anastos has resigned as commissioner of the CCHA to become the head coach at Michigan State.

Anastos returns to coaching at the collegiate level for the first time since 1992, when he was in the second year as an assistant coach to Ron Mason at Michigan State. He was the head coach at Michigan-Dearborn, an NAIA school, from 1987 to 1990.

“Bringing Tom Anastos into the MSU athletics department to run our hockey program brings someone with energy and passion not only for the sport of hockey, but for our university and program as well,” Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said in a statement. “He can attract high-caliber talent and develop those players into those who are attractive to the National Hockey League. He places a premium on education, and the drive and desire to compete for championships.”

It may be the first time that a college hockey commissioner left that post to become a college hockey coach. Former Hockey East commissioner Lou Lamoriello later became a coach in the NHL.

Anastos played for the Spartans from 1981 to 1985.

“I am extremely excited about returning to Michigan State to lead the Spartan hockey program and once again be a part of the MSU athletics department family,” he said in a statement. “I have obviously maintained a relationship with MSU and been in close contact with the hockey program for the last 13 years in my role with the CCHA, but this opportunity is incredibly special.

“The expectations I have for our program will be to compete annually for conference and national championships. That was the expectation when I was here as a player and as an assistant coach, and I don’t believe it should be any different in my role as head coach. In our locker room, we have quality young men who are good players, good students and good citizens, which are all hallmarks of this program. I am excited to get started, to hire a staff, and to get myself re-acclimated within the MSU community.”

Associate commissioner Fred Pletsch will serve as the CCHA’s interim commissioner while the league finalizes plans for a search, said Greg Christopher, the Bowling Green athletic director and chair of the CCHA Council.

“Congratulations to Tom and his family; this is a terrific opportunity,” Christopher said in a statement. “On behalf of everyone in the CCHA, we thank Tom for his 13 years of leadership. As commissioner, Tom helped elevate the CCHA to the top of college hockey.

“We move forward with a strong foundation in place. The executive committee and full council are committed to the future of the CCHA. Our ongoing conversations about the future shape of the CCHA will continue. The CCHA staff is a strong and cohesive group, with the ability to keep things moving forward. Fred Pletsch has been involved with the league for 10 years and understands our vision.”

It’s the second major shake-up this week for the CCHA. On Monday, the Big Ten Conference made it public that it intends to start a men’s hockey conference in 2013, which would take Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State out of the CCHA.

Anastos, 47, has been included on The Hockey News‘ annual list of the 100 most influential and powerful people in the sport for the last five years. He’s No. 46 in 2011.


  1. Repeated from my comment on the blog post….

    I thought the captain was supposed to go down with the ship…not defect to the bastards that fired the torpedo…..

  2. I hope the new commish cuts the Big Ten teams loose right away and starts to reshape the CCHA. Who wants to keep dating a girl that just told you she was going to dump you in two years when a better guy comes along?

    • Nice thought….but that’s two years of rivalries and revenue the conference members won’t want to do without. How would you feel if you were Northern Michigan and someone told you, “yeah, you know those games you had scheduled against Michigan and Michigan State the next two years? Well, forget about those. Oh, and sorry ’bout the attendance problem….”

      (Note: Yes, I understand that schools are gonna have to deal with this reality soon enough….but they won’t be willing to hasten the process…)

      • Now look at it from the Big Ten schools side: No league as there are only 5 teams, no automatic bid to the NCAA, few scheduling options. They also don’t visit every CCHA building every year as it is now, so teams would only lose two games a year unless you happen to be in their cluster. For the next two years those teams need the CCHA and WCHA than either league needs them as they are leaving anyway.

        • Oh yeah. You’re absolutely right. I get that. But, to me, “spitefulness” just doesn’t seem to be the best guiding principle from which to run a hockey conference.

          I’m as pis*ed off as anyone at the Big Ten…but instead of focusing on “getting back” at the Big Ten schools, the CCHA and WCHA should focus on laying plans for the future.

          Besides, in the end, it’s not the individual schools’ fault that the conference decided to sponsor hockey. Minnesota, at least, had been against the formation of a BTHC from the get-go.

          • OK, you’re right. Just blowing off some steam as I don’t understand the rush, outside of the Big Ten Channel having some open slots on some Fridays. They aren’t going to gain a lot of games to show as they seem not to want to show Big Ten teams playing non Big Ten opponents. With only six teams playing 20 league games in a league that values Football, Men’s basketball and Women’s basketball over hockey I don’t get it. I would love to know the true feelings of the coaches as they have never been aligned with the Big Ten in hockey. Ron Mason would be a great guy to ask as he’s retired and can speak his mind. He also coached at Lake Superior, then Bowling Green before going to MSU. Jerry York would be another interesting coach to get input from as he also coached at Bowling Green and won his, and the CCHA’s, first National Title while there. I’d like to see the WCHA and CCHA come together in a manner where they could limit travel yet both come out stronger.

    • And then the Big Ten teams file a massive lawsuit for breach of contract, win the lawsuit, get to play their schedules as they stand, and cost the CCHA a ton of money. So yeah…

  3. What a pathetic hire. Mark Hollis seems to be all about gimmicks. Anastos would be a nice Assistant AD, but he’s not a hockey coach for crying out loud! Michigan State has been an elite hockey program for many decades. Well, on a positive note, the CCHA is finally rid of Anastos and can move forward without his big school bias. And Hollis can fire Anastos in a few years anyway, unless the President fires him.

  4. Tom Anastos was a smart, excellent hockey player. He’s was a successful coach at Michigan-Dearborn, of all places. Granted, he hasn’t coached since most of his recruits were born . . . Nevertheless, he’s a sharp guy -as is Hollis – and he’s very organized. He’ll bring in a good staff and good talent. Whether he’ll win or not, remains to be seen of course, but don’t underestimate Anastos. I think he’ll win – and fairly soon.

    It is interesting to note, for all the Big Ten Conference haters out there, four of the five Big Ten teams will be watching on tv this weekend.

  5. I’ve heard nothing but rumors, fairbankshockey, so I cannot say. I think we’ll all know when assistants are announced — just like we all knew who was going to coach when (and only when) that was announced.


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