A year ago Mike Haviland was believed to be one of the leading candidates to replace Dale Hunter as the Capitals’ next head coach.
Today, Haviland joined the organization when the Hershey Bears named him the 24th head coach in club’s history.
Haviland, 45, replaces Mark French, who was relieved of his duties following the 2012-13 season and recently took a coaching job in the KHL.
Haviland has won championships at three different levels and brings 14 years of professional hockey coaching to the Bears, including four years as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup with him behind the bench in 2010.
“He’s a good guy, a down-to-earth guy,” Capitals right wing and former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer, told CSNWashington.com last summer. “He’s more of a players’ coach, but has a stern side to him. He’s a guy that everyone I played with respected.”
Bears president and general manager Doug Yingst made the announcement Tuesday morning.
“The Hershey Bears have long become synonymous with competing and winning,” Yingst said. “Mike Haviland has coached his teams to compete and win, and we look forward to having him do the same in Hershey. Of the numerous candidates who applied for this position, we felt Mike was the best man to help our team push toward a 12th championship and we welcome him.”
A native of Middletown, N.J., Haviland returned to the AHL this season as associate coach of the Norfolk Admirals.
From 2005 through 2007 Haviland guided the Admirals – then the top affiliate of the Blackhawks – to a record of 93-51-10-6. In those two seasons, the Admirals broke single-season wins and points records, earning Haviland AHL Coach of the Year honors.
Haviland went on to lead the Blackhawks’ new AHL affiliate in Rockford to the second round of the playoffs. Following that 2007-08 season, he moved up to assist Joel Quenneville behind the Blackhawks’ bench. In a span of four years, he helped guide Chicago to a cumulative mark of 187-101-40, a Central Division title in 2009-10 and the 2010 Stanley Cup championship.
Prior to his time in the AHL and NHL, Haviland spent four seasons with the ECHL’s Trenton Titans [2004-05] and Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies [2001-04]. He led the Boardwalk Bullies to a Kelly Cup championship in 2003, and just two years later, hoisted the trophy as the Titans’ bench boss. His cumulative record in four ECHL seasons was 172-81-35.
Haviland was originally selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
Earlier this month French, 42, took a job with an expansion team in the KHL, the Medvescak Zagreb in Croatia.