Cahoon resigns as Massachusetts head coach, sees ‘lot of positives to this’

Massachusetts announced Tuesday that head coach Don “Toot” Cahoon has stepped down from his position.

“Through the course of our recent conversations, coach Cahoon and I mutually agreed that it would be in the program’s best interest for him to take this action at this time,” UMass athletic director John McCutcheon said in a statement. “I want to thank coach Cahoon for his many contributions to UMass and the community. He has positioned the program well for future success, both on and off the ice, and we are excited to continue to build on the foundation that he has put in place.”

“It’s been an honor to coach and work with so many fine student-athletes over the last 12 years here at UMass,” Cahoon added. “Their efforts and the efforts of the faculty, staff and community members will be fond memories of my time here at Massachusetts. I look forward to the continued growth and development of this program so that it will sustain itself at the most elite level within Hockey East. The privilege has been all mine.”

Cahoon also spoke to the Boston Herald and said he’s not quite finished yet.

“There’s not much I can say or need to say,” Cahoon said. “What I’d like to do is speak to all my players. I have a lot that I have to do within the program yet. Marblehead has been a big part of my life and always will be, but I have some close ties out here [in Amherst], as well. There are a lot of positives to this, too. We’ll see.”

The 62-year-old Cahoon recently completed his 12th season in Amherst with a 166-225-42 record. His 166 victories are the most in program history. He has compiled a 333-380-73 mark in 25 years as a head coach, which includes a stint at Princeton from 1991-2000, Norwich from 1979-82 and Lehigh from 1973-74.

In 2011-12, Cahoon led the Minutemen to a 13-18-5 mark and a their tenth-consecutive berth in the Hockey East playoffs.

Four of the seven All-Americans in program history have come during Cahoon’s time in Amherst: Thomas Pock (2004), 2012 Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Quick (2007), James Marcou (2009) and Justin Braun (2010).

A national search for the program’s 13th head coach will begin immediately.

The Herald speculated that candidates to replace Cahoon include Bill Gilligan, a former UMass assistant, Boston College assistant Mike Cavanaugh, former UMass assistant Dennis “Red” Gendron, now at Yale, former UMass grad assistant and Minnesota Wild scout Darren Yopyk, Colorado Avalanche assistant Dave Quinn and Toronto Maple Leafs assistant Greg Cronin, a former head coach at Northeastern. UMass could also seek permission to talk with Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy and Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl.