The Boston University hockey program maintained the Terrier lineage by promoting former captain and associate head coach Albie O’Connell to replace David Quinn, who departed for the New York Rangers two weeks ago.
The two-week search for the program’s 12th head coach drew overwhelming interest, according to athletic cirector Drew Marrochello, but the administration ultimately decided that O’Connell, who was introduced on Wednesday at Agganis Arena, was the best candidate.
While briefly discussing the school’s extensive interview process, Marrochello and administrators saw O’Connell as a potential front-runner all along.
“Albie was the first person I spoke with. And after speaking with other candidates, I found myself not comparing them with David Quinn, but comparing them more and more with Albie O’Connell,” Marrochello said. “It’s clear that the best fit and the best coach for Boston University is Albie O’Connell.”
O’Connell, 42, described his ascension to the head job as “a quick transformation in a couple years.”
While this is O’Connell’s first head coaching job, he had the opportunity to learn under former coaches Jack Parker as a player, and more recently Quinn, who combined for more than 1,000 wins and 28 NCAA Tournament appearances at the school.
“I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned from both of them is how to manage players and how to expect the guys to compete every day,” said O’Connell. “That’s the biggest thing and that’s what BU’s culture is about. It’s about competitiveness.”
Despite taking over a storied program, O’Connell insisted he doesn’t feel any pressure to duplicate the success of his predecessors.
“I don’t feel any pressure because I know that we have great kids and we have great players,” he said. “I’m confident in what our process will be. I’ve seen over the past four years how our players react to certain things and how they perform. We have really competitive guys. That’s one of the advantages that a recruiter has because [he] picks the players.”
O’Connell is inheriting a team that won this past season’s Hockey East tournament and made its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament before losing to Michigan in the Northeast Regional final. O’Connell believes the transition will be seamless.
“Quinn has built a good foundation. I think I’m going to do some things a little bit different, but the structure is there,” O’Connell said. “I just want to keep it as simple as possible.”
With the coaching search in the past, O’Connell was eager to get started.
“I wish the season started tomorrow,” he said. “It’s time for myself and the staff to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”