Over the past five seasons, Michigan State hockey has a combined record of 58-101-2. The team has never finished in the top half of the Big Ten standings, has never entered the NCAA Tournament, and has not won a Big Ten Tournament game.
Adam Nightingale is here to try to reverse the program.
“We’re establishing a culture of how we do things and it’s a culture of humility but a lot of confidence,” Nightingale said. “He’s the one who’s going to be the responsibility. One that’s competitive — I think that’s the biggest driver of development — and then passion. Guys have to like coming to the rink. You have to come with your tail wagging.
Prior to taking on the head coaching role, Nightingale began his career at Michigan State after being transferred from Lake Superior State in 2003. After a successful two-year stint as a player, where he played in 118 games and recorded 18 goals and 19 assists, he returned to MSU in 2011 for three years as his role was to oversee all team video as well as team travel.
Now, nine years later, he returns to his alma mater with a bigger role than ever. His reason to keep coming back again and again is threefold: family, tradition and people.
“I met my wife here and we had a child here,” Nightingale said. “The tradition of the program, we all know it’s a proud program and I think probably the most important thing is the people, the people involved in the university and the community. I think it’s a really unique place.
While away at East Lansing, Nightingale was coaching every stage of hockey under the sun. Since graduating, he has played on teams such as Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U team and Midget AA team, the Detroit Red Wings, and the United States National Team Development Program, or USNTDP. Through these experiences, he believes he has a good understanding of the player development process.
“I’m fortunate to have a wealth of experience coaching top players from 14 years old all the way up to the National Hockey League,” Nightingale said. “I feel like I have a good understanding of the development path.”
It’s no secret that Michigan State hockey has seen better days, and one of Nightingale’s goals as head coach is to restore Michigan State to the top tier of hockey. college hockey programs, but it will take daily effort.
“Long term, it’s about getting him back to a top college hockey program,” Nightingale said. “I’m an improving guy today, not looking too far into the future. Every day is about getting better and I think we do that and we have that mindset as a staff and as a team we will be where we want to be.
So far, Nightingale has been active in recruiting, as he has preached, as well as staff additions, but those aren’t the only things Nightingale has focused on.
“We look at everything in the program,” Nightingale said.
He has high aspirations for his focus. It’s not just what he does in the name of due diligence.
“We want to make every area of our program the best in college hockey,” Nightingale said.
Fans may be curious how a team coached by Nightingale will play, and if he shares results similar to his desired comparison, those fans should be in for a treat. Nightingale said he wanted to share with his neighbor across the street how the street team is doing, and that neighbor is men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo.
“You know when you walk into a gymnasium it’s Michigan State basketball, for us it’s going to be smart, fast and hard,” Nightingale said. “When you walk into the rink and watch us play, you’ll see us play that way.”
There are many things a new head coach needs to be excited about when taking on a program for the first time, but Nightingale said the thing he’s most excited about is getting the chance to help. the people.
“I’ve just helped the guys we have here now and the new players are getting better,” Nightingale said. “I think that’s our biggest job. In college hockey, the age of the players is still at a developmental age. I think that’s why people get into coaching, because they want to help other people. I’m excited when we can get together as a group and officially start training and getting on the ice together and helping each guy be the best version of themselves.
Only time will tell if Nightingale can bring Michigan State back to the promised land, but one thing is for sure, there is new life in the Munn Ice Arena.
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