UVM men’s hockey: Woodcroft’s coaching staff to include Mike Babcock as ‘volunteer advisor’

New University of Vermont men’s hockey coach Todd Woodcroft has tapped into his NHL resources to build out his staff in Burlington.

Woodcroft, named Catamount coach in April, announced his coaching staff structure on Wednesday afternoon, headlined by former NHL head coach Mike Babcock, who was fired last year by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Woodcroft’s previous stop.

Babcock will serve as a volunteer advisor to the coaching staff, according to a news release from the UVM athletic department. Mark Stuart, a former NHL defenseman, begins his coaching career as a volunteer assistant with UVM.

And as previously reported, Jeff Hill will return for his sixth season on the Catamount bench. The final assistant coaching gig has yet to be filled, UVM said.

More:How UVM landed NHL assistant coach Todd Woodcroft for the men’s hockey gig

More:Why NHL assistant coach Todd Woodcroft wanted the UVM men’s hockey job

“I have only known Jeff for a few months but I feel like I have worked alongside him for years,” Woodcroft said 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.”

Babcock has coached over 1,300 games in the NHL, with stops in Anaheim, Detroit and Toronto. He guided the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2008, and has the most wins in the franchise’s rich history.

Babcock also steered Team Canada to a pair of gold medals at the Olympics. In 2004, Babcock’s staff included Woodcroft in Canada’s run to the IIHF world championship gold.

Mike Babcock has a career record of 700-418 over 17 seasons as an NHL head coach, the last five in Toronto.

But last November, the Maple Leafs fired Babcock after a slow start in his fifth season at the helm. A couple weeks later, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan addressed mental abuse allegations levied against Babcock, and called his coaching tactics not “appropriate or acceptable.”

According to UVM, Babcock’s role will include being “a resource for the coaching staff, lending his experience and perspective as one of the top hockey minds in the world.”  

“(Babcock) 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,” Woodcroft said in the news release. “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.”

Stuart, a former Colorado College standout, was a 2003 first-round pick of the Boston Bruins. He saw action with the Bruins, Atlanta Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets in a career that totaled 673 games.

Stuart also served as a team captain for the United States world junior squad which won a gold medal in 2004.

UVM said Woodcroft would be available for public comment on the recent additions on Thursday. 

Contact Alex Abrami at 660-1848 or aabrami@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @aabrami5.

This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.Sign up today for a subscription to the Burlington Free Press.