This summer, while Hershey fans were cranking up the A/C and dreaming of a cool October puck drop, the Bears were busy filling a roster void of key leadership roles. With the regular season just weeks away, the American Hockey League’s oldest and most storied franchise has welcomed newly hired Head Coach Mike Haviland and Assistant Coach Ryan Mougenel into the fold.
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) June 18, 2013
Haviland, 45, enters Giant Center as the Bears’ 24th Head Coach with 14 years of coaching experience under his belt. Prior to his move to Chocolatetown, Haviland spent four seasons as assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks, from 2008-2009 and again in 2011-2012. He arrived in Chicago after three years as a head coach for two different teams in the AHL—first for the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate Rockford Ice Hogs (2007-2008) and before that the Norfolk Admirals (2005-2007). Most recently, Haviland returned to Norfolk, the Anaheim Ducks affiliate, for 2012-2013 as associate coach.
“Mike Haviland has coached his teams to compete and win, and we look forward to having him do the same in Hershey,” Bears General Manager Doug Yingst said in a press release.
“This is the premier franchise in the American Hockey League. To be selected and knowing some of the guys I was up against, it was an honor and a privilege,” Hershey Bears Head Coach Mike Haviland said, “When you put that sweater on you have to understand that you are playing not for the name on the back but the name on the front.”
After his 2006-2007 season with the Norfolk Admirals, Haviland was honored with the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award, a trophy awarded annually to the AHL’s most outstanding coach. In addition to winning AHL Coach of the Year, Haviland has championships on three different levels to his name. In 2010, he helped guide the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup, and between 1996-1998 he lead Elmira College to two ECAC championships as an assistant coach. Additionally, Haviland hoisted the trophy twice as a bench boss in the ECHL—he coached the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies to the Kelly Cup in 2003 and again with the Trenton Titans in 2005.
Head Coach Haviland and Assistant Coach Ryan Mougenel Have History
It was while coaching in Atlantic City that Haviland met Ryan Mougenel, new assistant coach for the Bears. In his final season as a player, Mougenel served as an alternate captain for head coach Haviland on the Atlantic City club that won the Kelly Cup. After four years as head coach of the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers hockey club, which he led to the Kelly Cup finals in 2011-12, Mougenel (pronounced moo-zhuh-NEL, in case you were curious), 37, has landed his first AHL coaching gig in Hershey. Before his head coaching job in Las Vegas, Mougenel spent four seasons as assistant coach of the ECHL’s Fresno Falcons.
“Ryan fits that bill. He understands the work ethic and the details that have to go into being successful. He also understands the relationship between the players and coaches, and he knows how to nurture them,” said Haviland. “He’s a good communicator. He’s a very personable guy. The players are going to like him and the fans are really going to like him. They’re going to take to him. He’s got a great personality.”
This duo’s history has the makings of a dynamic coaching relationship for the Bears. Being familiar with one another’s coaching and playing styles will hopefully make both Haviland and Mougenel feel comfortable and confident in their new leadership roles.
New Leaders Fill Roster Voids Left by Mark French and Troy Mann
Mougenel, a native of Ontario, follows Troy Mann, who served as Hershey’s assistant coach the past four seasons and is now head coach of the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Haviland, a New Jersey native, replaces Mark French, who finished up four years in Hershey at the end of the 2012-13 season. French has since been named head coach of the Kontinental Hockey League’s (KHL) Medvescak Zagreb in Croatia, whose mascot just happens to also be a fierce bear.
French isn’t the only Bear to make the leap to Europe. A month after French landed a job with the Medvescak Zagreb, it was announced the Washington Capitals would not be renewing Boyd Kane’s contract for the 2013-14 season. Kane, three time captain of the Chocolate and White and three time Calder Cup Champion will swap one Bear sweater for another in Zagreb. In five seasons with Hershey, Kane skated in 365 regular season games along with 58 Calder Cup Playoff games.