Vermont has announced its 2020-21 coaching staff under first-year head coach Todd Woodcroft.
Jeff Hill will remain as an assistant coach, while former NHL and Colorado College defenseman Mark Stuart will begin his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach and Mike Babcock will join the Catamounts as a volunteer advisor to the coaching staff.
Hill returns for his sixth season on the men’s hockey staff.
“I have only known Jeff for a few months but I feel like I have worked alongside him for years,” said Woodcroft in a statement. “His passion for UVM Athletic success is tangible and his desire to make the men’s ice hockey team nationally relevant is admirable. He is diligent, demanding and harmonious. Our players are fortunate to have a person like Jeff who cares with every fiber of his being about their successes, both on and off the ice.”
Stuart is a veteran of 673 NHL games with Winnipeg, Boston and Atlanta and was a 2003 first-round draft pick (21st overall) of the Bruins.
“Often as a coach, you learn more from the players than they learn from you,” said Woodcroft. “Working with Mark in Winnipeg and watching him approach his career as if every day were his last was something that always stood out to me. When the process to hire a coaching staff began, the question started with a ‘what’ versus a ‘who.’ Mark hit every aspect of the ‘what’ and I know that his approach to this job will be reflective of everything I ever saw from Mark as a professional. He will earn the right to represent this team every single day. Players can expect to learn daily from Mark what it takes to be a professional, on and off the ice.”
Babcock is a veteran of over 1,300 NHL games behind the bench with Anaheim, Detroit and Toronto, winning a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008. He coached Team Canada on several occasions, winning a gold medal five times, two Olympics (2010 in Vancouver and 2014 in Sochi), one World Junior Championship (1997), one World Championship (2004) and one World Cup (2016).
Babcock’s role will be to serve as a resource for the coaching staff, lending his experience and perspective as “one of the top hockey minds in the world,” according to a press release.
“Mike and I have been connected for over 15 years (winning a gold medal together in 2004) and our network goes back even further to our McGill University experience,” said Woodcroft. “He is a premier coach across any athletic platform and as a coaching staff we are very fortunate to be able to draw from his experiences. Mike’s knowledge, his network and above all else, the modern lens he uses to look at the game of hockey will help accelerate the progression of our entire program.”
The final assistant coaching position has yet to be filled.