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Globe West Sports

Former pros to coach prep-school hockey

By Steve Crowe
Globe Correspondent / June 20, 2010

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The Independent School League is considered one of the top prep school hockey leagues in the country, a breeding ground for future collegians and professionals.

Now, the ISL’s reputation is even stronger.

In the last two weeks, Tony Amonte, Shawn McEachern, and Scott Young — three former Boston University stars who played a combined 47 seasons in the National Hockey League — have been named the varsity boys’ coaches at Thayer Academy in Braintree, the Rivers School in Weston, and St. Mark’s School in Southborough, respectively.

Young, a Clinton native who skated for St. Mark’s in the early 1980s, started coaching youth hockey after he retired from the NHL in 2006. Drafted 11th overall by the Whalers in 1987, he played for seven teams in a 17-year pro career.

He said he was not interested in the insecurity of an NHL coaching position.

“There’s a lot of guys who can come out of the NHL and jump into coaching,’’ said Young, who played with Amonte and McEachern on the 1992 US Olympic team that finished fourth in Albertville, France. “All the moving around, packing and unpacking, and moving city to city, I’ve had enough of that.

“It was great during my playing career, I’ll never complain about that, but I want the stability of staying at home. I don’t want that uneasiness of never really having a home base.’’

McEachern served as an assistant coach the last two years at University of Massachusetts Lowell after an NHL career that included stints with the Boston Bruins and four other teams. The Waltham native will also serve as the assistant athletic director at Rivers.

“I’ve had some great coaches throughout my career and just want to share that with these kids,’’ said McEachern, a Matignon High graduate who also spent two years as an assistant at Northeastern University. “If I could go back and start playing now with learning what I have, I’d be at a huge advantage.’’

Young said the landscape at the high school level has been hurt by junior programs that attract many top local players.

The three former BU teammates “didn’t plan this and say, ‘Hey, let’s coach in the ISL,’ ’’ Young said. “But we do think it will be great for the schools and the league. Hopefully it will attract talented student-athletes who want to play hard and get to that next level. When I was at St. Mark’s, both private and public schools were strong. Junior leagues have definitely changed that, and we want to make sure the ISL remains competitive.’’

Rivers athletic director James McNally said the hiring of Amonte, McEachern, and Young will keep the ISL at the forefront of prep school hockey.

“Playing at the professional level doesn’t necessarily give you the qualities to become a coach on any level,’’ McNally said. “You might have the physical attributes and knowledge of X’s and O’s, but that doesn’t automatically make them a good coach. Strong coaches across the league make the league that much better.’’

Steve Crowe can be reached at crowe.steven@yahoo.com.

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