Albie O’Connell Not Returning As BU Head Coach

By James Garrison

The Boston University Men’s Head Hockey Coach Albie O’Connell will not be returning to his head coaching position next season, Drew Marrochello announced today. 

“We have very high expectations for our men’s hockey program and we are determined to have our team compete at the highest level of college hockey. After the conclusion of our regular year-end assessment, we believe that a new direction is needed for our program to achieve our goals”, Marochello said.

The 2021-22 season marked the last season on O’Connell’s contract, which will not be renewed. 

As head coach for four seasons, O’Connell posted a 58-49-16 record, led BU to one NCAA tournament appearance in the 2021-22 season, and a Beanpot championship in 2022. 

After playing four seasons on Comm. Ave and serving as captain (class of ‘99), O’Connell served for four seasons as an associate head coach under David Quinn until being promoted to the head coaching position after Quinn’s departure in 2018. 

It is currently unclear whether BU Athletics will promote from within, most likely Jay Pandolfo, or hire from the outside. 

More to come on a developing story. 

33 thoughts on “Albie O’Connell Not Returning As BU Head Coach”

  1. Loved Albie as a person; i think this move, however, was necessary. i wish him and his family nothing but the best

    now it is about getting the right guy.

    Shawn McEachran is my top choice, but if they go outside the BU family, i am good with that. Quinnie is still collecting from the rangers and i am not sure i would want him back because he seems like a perpetual flight risk for the NHL.

    i wonder what will happy to the rest of the staff

    this next hire is HUGE

  2. Could not agree with Vinnie more. Albie is a wonderful guy and we all wish him well. However, I vote for going outside the program to get some fresh blood. There are some terrific coaches out there. Providence got Nate Leaman. Lowell got Bazin. Would not mind either of those although probably not available. Find a coach that wins more than they should with limited talent.

  3. also after reading Albie’s comments in the Globe, i was impressed with his dignity and class in handling this difficult situation.

    i do approve of the coaching change, but best of luck Coach O’C.

  4. I think most, if not all, BU hockey fans wanted to see Albie succeed. When hired, it seemed logical for Albie to take the next step in his coaching career, at his alma mater, that he would be well-positioned to continue the program’s historical success.

    It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out that way. Wish him the best in what he does next in his hockey career.

  5. I waited a bit before commenting. I think coach got a raw deal. All year long everyone on this website called for it. Walk around the rink and folks would be calling kids over poisoning them talking bad about coach. Advocating to everyone who would listen about moving coach. I warned of it on this blog how it was dangerous. I said let the coaches coach kids play cheer for your team great kids families on this roster enjoy yourself enjoy the game of hockey but folks could not do it they needed to tear down the program use there influence to force change. Now all I hear on this blog and other social media is how coach was a nice guy and wish him well. That’s a bunch of nonsense as mostly everyone on this blog spent the whole year trying to get him fired. One guy created a survey and sent it to certain season ticket holders of the same belief titled it Albie’s great adventure and loaded the questions with if Albie’s fired when Albie’s fired etc . Then on Monday sends it to school president and AD and goes on uscho website and says he did not send it to have him fired and wait for it Albie is a nice guy. Lol whatever helps you sleep at night. He never sent me his link to survey someone else did. In his summary of comments nothing I said was written of and I’m confident my opinions were not shared. This type of behavior is hurting my hockey program and it’s from adults.

    Now where are we ? We lost a good coach. May loose great assistant coaches a team that must deal with a hiring process and a new coach that will have to try and curtail this type of behavior, because it will not stop with a new coach if he loses two straight folks will be calling for his head it will be hard putting the tooth paste back in the tube.

    Unlike many on this blog who say our program is average I disagree I think we will get a great coach just look at the names floating around but he will need a chance to succeed. Coach O’Connell is a terrier always has been for him to be treated this way is shameful let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to the next guy. Loyalty matters . As always go bu 🐾

    • It’s about ROI (return on investment) not some blog or silly poll.

      4 seasons. 58-49-16. 1 Beanpot.

      Not a good enough ROI. Not even close.

      BU can have any coach and any coach who signs a contract understands the rules and accepts the responsibility that success is measured in W’s, not how nice a guy someone is.

      To stay employed, a coach needs to stay successful. Anyone who can look at objective facts without rose-colored glasses can see as plain as day, this move was a no-brainer.

      No excuses.

  6. Mark my word when we made the tournament last year or won the beanpot or had the best winning streak second half we’re you spreading your message no this blog went silent but folks like yourselves were still at it . I watched and listened warned of the problems this type of behavior would cause and now because of folks like yourself and others the team is in a worse place then it was Wednesday morning. Congratulations you achieved your mission yourself and others with influence became bigger then the program hope your proud of your achievement

    • You’re trying to contradict logic with your own personal emotions. Never a good idea. I’m sorry your guy is out and you feel sad. It’ll get better.

  7. Hi Colin. Having people on this blog who were advocating and suggesting that Albie might not be the right guy for the BU HC job was not at all dangerous. What was extremely dangerous (for Albie staying on as the HC) was how the team performed throughout the four years and especially the last several games of this past season. If you removed Albie’s name and the name of BU Hockey and reached out to a respected hockey writer, announcer or sports talk show host and asked whether a particular coach (with the record he has over the past four seasons) should be extended, I don’t think you would find one who would see it your way. Saying he is a nice guy and a good guy is just being honest and not meant to ease our sleep. And when the next coach is hired and if the BUH program continues to be a “win one, lose one” program, people will definitely be doing the exact same thing on this blog. That is how it works with fandom in both pro and college sports. That is how it should work.

  8. No Glen that’s not how it should work. A coach should be able to coach without having people who know nothing about hockey and even less about college hockey interfering . Coach O’Connell is gone but he was successful in town he deserved better but folks had a agenda to destroy him and they succeeded. We have great players students they come from great families why can’t our fans embrace that root for them enjoy hockey it’s a great game take pride in your team.

    College hockey allows fans to meet and interact with students there parents athletic dept. personal etc why do we need to attack the coach AD who by the way I respect I believe his hands were tied. He’s a solid guy in my opinion. To use this awesome pice of college hockey to push a agenda is despicable.

    If folks have not figured out my motive on this blog it is to counter the haters protect the program the players there families from all that want to harm it. I took a few days off because I wanted to see the haters come out and celebrate but I’m back and I’m here for the team I have all summer all I think about is bu hockey and you won’t get away with ruining my team on my watch . Go bu

    • Colin, I too love Albie as a person and a true blue Terrier. But everyone has a boss. And everyone’s boss also has a boss.

  9. To be fair, Colin, a lot of the people calling for change were the parents themselves. And a number of the players would be very happy if Pandolfo is named HC. Albie has a lot of positives: good guy, good recruiter, fair, willing to learn. But he also had a lot of negatives: had a hard time being decisive, slow to adjust in-game, not a natural motivator, and externally presented a soft disposition.

    As I’ve said before, I think he’ll be better in his 2nd gig than he was here (like many 2nd-time coaches). It’s kind of a shame he didn’t take the Quinn path and be a head coach somewhere before BU. One of the best ways to get better is to fail (or not succeed) and learn. I truly believe Albie will be better for his experience at BU. And I also feel confident that he’ll be fine and get another coaching job very quickly.

    All of us on this board know that you often speak in hyperbole and are steadfast is your belief of how things “should” be – sometimes ignoring any rational arguments/positions, and pretending D1 hockey isn’t ultimately about wins and losses. I’d even argue that your hockey world view is better suited for D3.

    I suspect many on this board preferred Albie take over for Quinn and genuinely wanted him to succeed. But, on the whole, he didn’t meet the high expectations BU sets for itself. That is indisputable.

    D1 sports is not “nice”. It’s not even “loyal”. In our example, Loyalty would have had Bavis succeed Parker. But they didn’t give him the job for a reason (and his coaching record since leaving BU would appear to support that decision). The AD made the decision he felt was best for that program. Even when a program is loyal (to a degree) like UNH was with Umile when it was clear that the game kind of passed him by, it doesn’t guarantee anything. (Would you like to be in UNH’s position right now just for the sake of loyalty?).

    Did Albie get a raw deal? Maybe. There were obviously a lot of moving parts. And a lot of angles and opinions. And I’m always happy to debate such topics rationally and pragmatically. But he definitely didn’t do himself many favors over his four pretty “average” seasons.

    “Average BU” is something you are ok with. Many of us are not ok with it. Albie could have coached ~.500 hockey for 10 more seasons without any real accomplishment on the national stage and it’s fair to say you’d tell us he was still the best coach in hockey.

    The biggest thing I take issue with is you calling anyone who makes supportable critiques of the program, “haters” of the program. In fact, it’s the opposite. Albie is not the program. One season is not the program. The program is a “living” thing that has people move in and out of it over time with varying degrees of importance and responsibility. Players, coaches, admins, staff, fans, etc. But fans are the ones that (for the most part) stay consistent. And for.a program with BU’s history and expectations, the fans should expect better than how the team performed over the past four years.

    If everyone put on scarlet-colored glasses and ignored reality, we’d be an “everyone gets a trophy” culture that just kind of meanders along. THE PROGRAM (especially those who have come before us and established a culture of consistent excellence – or close to it as often as possible – would really be the ones being disrespected. Again. This isn’t rec hockey. It’s not beer league hockey. It’s not D3 hockey.

    It’s D1. You may not like how D1 athletics operates but it’s the reality we live in. And while we disagree on who should lead the program, I can guarantee you that there are thousands of people who care just as much as you do about BU hockey. And when 80% of them can see that something isn’t quite working right and a change may be needed, it’s not “hatred”. It’s reality. It’s “fandom”’as opposed to “fanaticism”.

    I don’t know Scott Pickett but from what I do know (and FWIW, he probably knows more about BU hockey over the decades than anyone on this thread), he created a poll to gauge the temperature of the fan base. He posted it to the highest profile college hockey message board (USCHO) so ANYONE could answer it. Not a hand-picked group. He’s always seemed like a stand-up guy and I suspect he sent all of the results to the AD. In fact, I bet he’d be happy to send you or publish all of the comments. But the reality is ~80% of people saw a need for a change. They had supported arguments for why (not just emotion) and the AD probably used it as one of many touchpoints (including talking to players, parents, donors, Parker, alums, etc.) to get as much info as possible to make an informed decision.

    FWIW, I think Pandolfo will be the HC or will stay as Assoc under a new guy. Friedman will confine with the program. And maybe we’ll bring back another alum for the other open position. Most of the players will stay (likely all of the “key” players) and we’ll all move forward. Hopefully with more success than we’ve seen of late.

    I hope everyone has a good summer. See you all next October. Go BU!

    Mike

  10. Colin, if you think that our AD (or any AD at a school with our history) would have reached a different decision had he sequestered himself away from the input of bloggers, alums, donors and all other BUH fans, you are mistaken. You insist on living in a BUH world in which only relationships matter and results are irrelevant. I would be more receptive to your argument if you said that Albie should be given either two or three or four more years and then he would be evaluated based on his record and NCAA Tournament success. To the contrary, you seem to feel that Albie is a great coach because he is a loyal BU Terrier who has done a lot of good things for our grogram as a player and coach. If it was up to you, there would be no limit to the number of years/chances that Albie would have to bring BUH the hardware we expect. With regard to the survey, I actually voted for Albie to stay because I initially said that this season he would have to at the very least win a Beanput or HE title – and he acheived that goal. I would have given him another year to build on that success. However, I can easily see the AD’s point that these past four years have been enough to determine that BUH needs to go in a different direction in order to continue as a college hockey powerhouse. Making such a decision shows the program is strong. Making the decision to stay the course would have been a sign of weakness and that hockey chamionships are no longer important at BU.

    So, since “ruining” your team pretty much means prioritizing results over relationships, then yes, I most certainly do want to ruin it. Go BU!

  11. i heard the Drew was willing to give AOC a one year deal while AOC wanted three years. so it was a mutual parting in that regard. i give Drew credit for sticking to his guns and i do not blame Albie was seeking more job security

    look, you guys have it all wrong. According to hockey expert Canny Colin, we, especially Ozzie, know “nothing about hockey.” and he should know because he understands the subtleties of the game. for example, he shrewdly pointed out that it is called a sweater not a jersey. i still chuckle at that one. what more do you need to know?

    ok back to reality. i like Jay, but i think the key to his success will be the assistants he hires. i would love to add some more NHL pedigree to the program. also, a more outgoing one who can balance Jay’s quiet demeanor. i wish Amonte could coach but he has no degree which i think is so silly

    rumor has it the Hutson boys decommitted. not sure about that. anyone hear the same?

    i hope they hire a new guy before the banquet

  12. excellent comments from both Mike and Glen. Historically Terriers hockey is among the top 5 programs in the nation ( Michigan. ND, Wisconsin, Denver, BC also would be in there), and therefore a certain standard of performance , justifiably, is expected. The past 4 years under O’Connell have not lived up to these standards ( 1 beanpot, 2 hockeyeast QF lost , and one NCAA appearance also lost in first round, no frozen fours). A change of the coach is foreseeable and correct under these circumstances. Certainly it was not all Albie’s fault, a share of the blame is also on the players and the circumstances themselves, but ultimately its the coach who manages the players makes the selections and decisions and he becomes the fall guy. It happens in all sports including Div. 1 college sports.
    I have been a critic of the hockey program for several seasons, not just of the results on the ice but of the way the program is run now in regards to the supporters and fans (ie friends of hockey, and i have also voiced these opinions to our AD. I believe it is ok to criticize things if they are not offensive to anyone on a personal level and it can be seen as helpful in some way ( new ideas about tactics , recruiting, creating fan interest, ect.) The bloggers here IMO all do this and
    it is fun to exchange al these thoughts on our beloved program, ( it shows that everyone really cares about the success of the program.)
    This being said i thing we can all look forward to a bright future for BU hockey. The administration now seems committed to aim for success and high goals, ( trophies, NCAA final fours, ect) with this move in replacing the very affable Albie.( of course we wish him success in the future and maybe with the Terriers as well.)
    It will be very interesting who the administration choose to be our next coach since a nationwide search is being conducted. i wonder if anyone believes Quinn would be considered or even Sullivan who’s had great success in the NHL ( would they even consider it or are they strictly NHL guys now?) I know Pandolfo was assistant coach for the Bruins , but what real success had in had coaching. Lets enjoy the process and all remember its just hockey

  13. IMO, Quinn is waiting for the end of the NHL season to put his hat in the ring for a head coaching job. thus the timing is bad. we need a coach before then

    IMO, sullivan is an entrenched NHL guy. no interest in college, even BU.

    i would take either one

    let me ask everyone this: if they did go outside the BU family, who are possible candidates?

  14. Rick Bennett from Union is available. He transformed Union from a doormat to NCAA champs at a small school on a low end D1 budget and a talent pool far less than ideal compared to a BU. He’s got a hockey east pedigree and 20+ years coaching experience including 16+ as a HC. No BS type guy. Imagine what he could do with BU’s resources.

  15. Leaman was really the one that transformed Union before he left for Providence. Bennett continued the success for a few years after Leaman left, culminating in a national title, but he was a .500 coach for the last 7 years with one NCAA appearance. All a little too familiar. And he was just ousted from Union for his coaching practices. Can’t see him taking over here.

    Mike

  16. Fair enough, as his last few outings have been less inspiring. Tough to keep that high end talent running through Schenectady though.

    I guess my only point is the program needs more of a no BS type guy. Someone who can hold a hockey team accountable and mold them into a hungry, united and fearsome opponent. BU should be the type of team you’d rather not play against. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be achievable.

  17. Colin,

    AOC has worked at seven different schools over the last 19 years. So are you saying they all didn t recognize what they had.

  18. My understanding is that the AD sought direct input from the players (in 1-1 meetings between each player and the AD) and from their parents, where their collective input factored into the decision-making process.

    In hearing from multiple sources with direct access to players/staff, I was left with the impression that 1) the players themselves wanted change; 2) the administration felt there was a need for stronger leadership from the head coach; 3) the consensus is Albie is liked, but didn’t command the respect necessary to cultivate a consistently winning, successful program to match BU’s lofty standards.

    As much as Colin wants to believe this was a hatchet job, I’m of the belief that his viewpoint of the state of BU Hockey is very much an outlier compared to most everyone associated with the program (from up close as well as from a distance).

  19. Coach O’Connell is a great coach and will land on his feet. He will certainly recruit great players at what ever institution he works at and I’m sure he will steal some from bu. When a select few fill out a survey and send to president that’s the very definition of a hatchet job. If this behavior is not stopped then the next coach will have to deal with it.
    Also when your a elite player at bu a captain a assistant coach a head coach you should be respected by university. I don’t agree with him not being signed but he was not offered anything to either accept or deny that’s wrong loyalty matters .

  20. The only thing the next coach has to deal with ultimately is the number of W’s vs. L’s. Period.

  21. Mark my word it’s a little more complicated then that. If that were the case coach O’Connell would still be here.

    I keep saying it over and over from early on in the season what makes college hockey great is the fact the fans have access to players there families etc. I truly enjoy this I have met several life long friends that were former players and parents I say it over and over again bu does a excellent job in recruiting great kids who come from great families but when folks prey upon players or parents natural emotions to try and push a agenda that’s a problem and it will make a difference on wins and loses and no coach should be put in that position. I think highly of the AD but in my opinion I believe his hand was forced by outside pressures. Letters sent to the president on Monday which included a survey but was not written to get him fired that’s garbage.
    Jeff Cox hates bu his tweet makes Albie look bad but it was not even vetted for accuracy. There was a rush to judgment because folks were pushing the agenda they were all year to get coach fired . It’s no different from when coach Quinn was here folks wanted him fired as well.
    I don’t understand why folks can’t just root for there team and be happy. The hockey program is in a better place because of coach O’Connell but our next coach who will be great needs to be able to coach without interference from special interest groups.

    • Every head coach at a marquee school has to deal with “special interest groups”. Even Little League volunteer coaches get “input” from parents, grandparents and other interested parties. Thats life.

  22. Colin: If you’re saying that players and parents didn’t have major input then you’re 100% wrong. (@Mark Myword, I was told the same thing by someone at the university). If you’re denying that their concerns weren’t reasonable and supported by reality then you’re 100% wrong. If you’re saying that ~100 fan survey respondents, while nice to get the opinions of fans on the main college hockey message board, had more of an impact than the players, parents, and donors then you’re 100% wrong. I give the AD credit for soliciting feedback from all parties before making his decision. And I’m confident Sean Pickett sent all survey results and all comments (including yours) to the AD, and if you’re not, ask him yourself.

    BU hockey, with loads of talent compared to a majority of other programs, underachieved in regard to expectations in Albie’s 4 seasons. That is a fact, not an opinion.

    He is not “the greatest coach in college hockey” by any metrics. And you’d be laughed out of court if you made that statement given the abundance of evidence to the contrary. He’s not even the best coach in his league.

    It’s ok to be publicly protective of a person you hold in high regard. It’s ok to feel bad that a friend lost their job. It’s ok to hate that D1 sports are run the way D1 sports are run. But to continuously ignore reality in public is just not a good look and takes away from all of the positivity and energy you’ve put into the program.

    I know you’re tight with a lot of parents and players. Ask them if Mark Myword’s post is correct. And if the criticisms of Albie are fair. And if they felt the program needed a new person at the helm. And since you don’t believe any of us on this blog, then please at least listen to them.

    As I’ve noted many times. I like Albie the person. I like Albie the recruiter and asst coach. I wanted Albie to get the BU job. I think he’ll be a better coach in his next gig from what he’s learned about himself in this one. But it was time for a change and a new direction.

    Coaches get fired (or not renewed) all the time. This situation is no different. And the justification in this case was more than fair. It stinks personally. But it comes with the job.

    If you still think Albie will ultimately be as or more successful than York/Parker/Berenson or even Pecknold when he ultimately retires, then I hope you can manifest that into reality because I wish Albie well and hope he succeeds (unless it negatively impacts BU 🙂

    And we all know that if he needs a hype man for his next interview, he knows who to call. It’s an honorable thing to give someone unconditional support. But we’re the BU Terriers, not the BU O’Connells so I hope you’ll be able to root for Albie at his next coaching spot AND whoever gets the BU job.

    And remember… Unless Albie takes over at a brand new program or at a place where someone retired, he too will likely be taking the spot of someone who was fired or not renewed because they didn’t meet the expectations they were given when they were hired.

    Hope everyone enjoys the Frozen Four. Despite it being an all-West affair, I look forward to some high-quality games. Since we’re not involved, here’s hoping for a few OTs.

    See you all in October. Go BU!

    Mike

  23. Hi Colin! To start with, I do think Albie made one important change for the better when it comes to BUH: He moved away from the overemphasis on the one-and-done recruits and got quiality players who have stayed multiple seasons with our program. Under Quinn, it seemed like the only guys who were prolific scorers were the freshmen and sophomores.

    What you said to Mark Myword makes no sense. You told him if it was all about W’s and L’s, Albie would still be here. You implied that Albie had a strong record. To the contrary, in his four years as BU head coach, he had a mediocre W/L record (which can even be considered poor when it comes to the standards of BUH). He was 58-49-16. Quinn was 105-68-21 and he had multiple deep NCAA runs. So, if people wanted Quinn fired, it didn’t happen because of the above mentioned stats.

  24. I’m not going to compare Albie to David Quinn they are both great coaches. Albie mad the tournament last year he just missed it this year. He ad his whole 2 lines out for most of first half. He lost to a very good U conn team he won the Beanpot he had success so yes I will proudly say he was successful and I stand by my comments that folks many of which here interfere negatively with what coaches want. And yes mike it does happen in little league and youth hockey but this is Boston university . I never go up to kids and tell them ignore coach he’s a idiot etc even if I disagree with any coach I don’t purposely try to interfere with things. I’m a big cheerleader basically I root for the kids I enjoy watching parents enjoy there kids success. I know hockey so if I can I offer some advice but never challenge the coach. As a player I never did and certainly as a fan I never have.
    It’s only human nature to want your kid to succeed but when lobbyists for change seek out parents to put a riff on the ice it’s wrong. Nothing anyone on here can say is going to change my mind. Another thing that annoys me is fans are too quick to dismiss kids who are healthy scratches all I do is cheer them on this is college hockey I don’t think some of you know how hard it is just to make this team and then being a student it’s not easy and I give these kids lots of credit it irks me when we on this blog or around the rink knock kids not in line up it’s a bad look for adults to do that .

  25. Colin,

    Fans are not to quick to dismiss players. Look at the coach. Fans do not ask players to leave of tell them to or drive them to the portal. We have had over 12 players in the last few years leave. That is not the fans. That’s the coaches bad judgement and lack of ability to develop them. Look at the last four years how many players got better?

Comments are closed.