From the FreeP: Steve Greeley leaves BU with fond memories, strong relationships

I had the chance late last week to chat with departing BU associate head coach Steve Greeley about his time at BU and what the future has in store for him. You can read that article here.

Something that stood out to me that didn’t make the cut in the actual story was when I asked him what skills he has that will benefit him in his future. I think his response essentially epitomizes what made him such a successful and impressive coach while at BU:

“I think my work ethic and my passion for the game are two things that have helped me throughout my career working in hockey. I get wrapped up in it in the sense that I follow every league, I know what every box score is. I don’t want to let myself get outworked. I didn’t want that to happen when I was in L.A., I didn’t want that to happen while I was at BU, and I certainly don’t want that to happen when I’m in New York. I’m gonna give 100 percent to the New York Rangers to help make them a better organization in any way I can.”


O’Connell looks to guide men’s hockey back to winning ways

FILE PHOTO/DEREK GEE O’Connell captured four Beanpot
championships during his tenure with the Terriers from 1995-99.

By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff

After more than a decade away, Albie O’Connell has finally returned to Commonwealth Avenue.

The former Boston University men’s hockey team captain joined the Terriers in April as an assistant coach for the 2014-15 season, completing a full-circle move for O’Connell, who is once again affiliated with the same program that he played for almost 20 years ago.

“It’s great. I’m excited,” O’Connell said. “I’m excited for the year to start. I think we’ll have a pretty good team. I think how good guys can get throughout the year and how they improve is going to dictate the outcome of how we end up.”

O’Connell joined the Terriers during the 1995-96 season as a heralded recruit. Over a year before his arrival at BU, the Watertown native was selected by the New York Islanders in the fifth round of the 1994 NHL Draft.

Playing a key role on a BU squad filled with NHL talent such as Chris Drury, Shawn Bates and Tom Poti, O’Connell and the Terriers established one of the greatest stretches in program history in the late 1990s, posting a 97-41-14 record from 1995-99.

While there were many positive takeaways to choose from for O’Connell, his fondest memory of playing for the Terriers was the team’s success in the annual Beanpot tournament. O’Connell and other members of the Class of 1999 are one of only four classes in program history to win four Beanpot titles.

Even though O’Connell was never able to capture an NCAA title, he made two Frozen Four appearances with BU in both 1996 and 1997 – including a loss to the University of North Dakota in the 1997 championship game, 4-2. Captaining the team during his final campaign in 1998-99, O’Connell led his squad in scoring with 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists) in 36 games.

By the end of his career with the Terriers, O’Connell acknowledged that learning under longtime BU head coach Jack Parker helped him grow as a hockey player in multiple areas – mostly due to the completive tone that Parker established from the get-go with his teams.

“He was a great coach,” O’Connell said of Parker. “We had good teams, so it was very competitive. It was setting a high standard and then coming to work and practice every day trying to get better on and off the ice. We held a high standard and he made the practices more competitive. It was very intense. He was ready to go for practice, which led to players being ready to go and be ready to compete everyday.”

While O’Connell may have turned in his scarlet and white sweater in 1999, he did not hang up his skates following his departure from Walter Brown Arena. O’Connell later played professional hockey for four teams in both the East Coast Hockey League and the British National League from 1999-02, compiling 132 points (54 goals, 78 assists) in 127 pro tilts.

Once he put a close to his playing career, O’Connell immediately made the transition from the ice to behind the bench, serving as an assistant coach at Berkshire Prep School in Sheffield during the 2002-03 season before making the move up to the collegiate level the following year at Colby College.

After stints at both Niagara University and College of the Holy Cross, O’Connell entered into the Hockey East coaching ranks in 2007-08 as an assistant coach at Merrimack College before serving the same role over the last six seasons with both Northeastern University (2008-11) and Harvard University (2011-14).

Throughout his coaching career, O’Connell has garnered praise for his recruiting skills. During his time at Northeastern, the Huskies received commitments from both standout Providence goaltender Jon Gilles and 2014 Hobey Baker Award recipient and former Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau. Both players later de-committed from the program.

For O’Connell, the key to his success in terms of identifying talent is to trust his instincts and to collaborate with the rest of his staff.

“Just going out there and working hard,” O’Connell said. “Using your resources, using what you see and not listening to anyone and trusting what you’re looking at and what your staff is looking at and what you’re trying to do as a group – that’s the biggest thing.

“Working with [associate head coach] Steve [Greeley] and [head coach] David Quinn so far, it’s been really positive. They’ve both been very sharp when it comes to what they’re looking at, and they’re very organized and hard-working, so hopefully I’m a good addition to that.”

While he has excelled at building up multiple teams, O’Connell is certainly no slouch when it comes to instructing his players on the ice. During his first season with the Crimson in 2011-12, O’Connell helped establish the country’s most potent power-play unit, which posted a 27.3 percent success rate.

While the duty of serving as both a recruiter and a mentor has its own set of challenges, O’Connell holds both jobs in equally high esteem.

“They’re both fun jobs,” O’Connell said. “Basically, it’s two different jobs. One, you’re trying to help build the team, the other one, you’re trying to help coach the guys that you were trying to recruit, so they’re both equally tough jobs, but at the same time, both fun and rewarding.”

The journey back to his alma mater has been a long and winding road for O’Connell, but the 38-year-old coach doesn’t have much time to reflect.

With an influx of freshmen already training at Agganis Arena and the season opener almost a month away, O’Connell is diverting all of his energy toward helping a talented group of players achieve the same level of success that he attained almost two decades ago.

“Hopefully, we’re a lot better at the end of the year than at the start, because we’ve got nine or ten freshmen,” O’Connell said. “Practice is going to be important, player development is going to be important…Hopefully at the end of it, we’ll make good strides as a group.”

BU formally announces Steve Greeley’s hiring

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

Boston University issued a release Wednesday afternoon to name former Terrier Steve Greeley the associate head coach of the BU men’s hockey team.

“Steve is a bright and well-respected scout in the hockey world and he’ll be a fantastic college hockey coach,” head coach David Quinn said in the release. “He’ll help us out in a lot of ways, as he is a fantastic evaluator of talent and a hard-working, enthusiastic person who will be able to connect with our players on many levels. I couldn’t be more pleased to have him back here at BU.”

Greeley, who played four years under Jack Parker from 2000 to 2004, has worked as a scout for the Los Angeles Kings the last seven years.
For more on Greeley, read our article from last week.

Former Terrier Steve Greeley set to become BU assistant coach

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

When Steve Greeley starts as the Boston University men’s hockey team’s assistant coach Monday, there will be one unofficial order of business that will need taking care of: getting his family some new apparel.

Greeley’s wife, Lauren, is a Boston College graduate, and his sister, Megan, is a rising sophomore. His father, also named Steve, coaches BC’s club hockey team.

Needless to say, the new coach and member of BU’s Class of 2004 is looking for a lot less maroon and gold in their wardrobes.

“I have to get them all back on board here,” Greeley said with a laugh. “We’ll have them in the seats wearing red and white soon. … They’re going to have to [be BU fans again]. They’re going to have to. My family has got a lot of BC in them, I’ll tell you that much.”

Whether or not the others are ready to move their allegiances down Comm. Ave., Greeley is starting his new gig July 1, just days after formally accepting the job Wednesday night, he told The Daily Free Press Thursday afternoon.

After playing for four years under Jack Parker, during which time the Terriers won two Beanpot championships and made two NCAA tournament appearances, Greeley spent a season in the ECHL.

He has worked for the Los Angeles Kings for the last six years, first as a college scout and more recently as a pro scout. When head coach David Quinn sought permission from the Kings in late April to talk to Greeley, then reached out to Greeley himself, things came together pretty quickly.

“One thing led to another,” said Greeley, a Scituate native who played his high school hockey at Milton Academy (Milton) and Thayer Academy (Braintree). “I’m thrilled to be going back to BU. I’m excited to work for David Quinn. It’s a great opportunity.”

Although he will hold a slightly different title — assistant coach, not associate head coach — Greeley is in effect replacing Mike Bavis, who resigned in the spring after spending 15 seasons on the Terrier coaching staff.

Greeley confirmed assistant coach Buddy Powers will also return.

“Mike Bavis is a great friend of mine, and I’ve had some great conversations with him as well about the job and about the school and everything,” Greeley said.

Recruiting will be one of Greeley’s main tasks, and he’s not wasting any time. At 6 p.m. Monday, he is flying to Buffalo, N.Y. to watch the U.S. Youth Select 17 development camp in Williamsville.

While Greeley doesn’t have experience recruiting youngsters to a college program, he doesn’t expect too much of a learning curve. He spent the beginning of his tenure with the Kings “recruiting” college free agents to Los Angeles, and he said the two tasks are comparable.

With the Kings, he had to sell the organization — including player development, facilities and the coaches — to college players looking to go pro, a goal similar to what he’ll be doing with BU.

“You’re still recruiting kids that are going to be professional athletes, and you have to convince them that your place is the right spot,” Greeley said. “That’s no different than trying to convince a kid or a family why BU is the best opportunity for them. I think experience-wise I don’t have a lot to learn trying to tell players and families why BU is such a great place.”

Greeley will have plenty of adjusting to do in the coming months — adjusting to the travel, his Agganis Arena office, his family’s conversion — but he is excited, to say the least, about the new opportunity.

“I never thought much about coaching. I kind of carved a little path in the NHL and things were going great there,” Greeley said. “As soon as I knew this was an opportunity, I knew in one night it was what I wanted to do. I think there’s something to be said for working with a college, and to BU is a pretty special place. I’ve made some great friendships here, and I want to be a part of it again.”