CANTON — Mike Hurlbut was promoted to associate head men's hockey coach at St. Lawrence University, filling the position left by Bob Prier, the school announced Wednesday.
Hurlbut had been the logical choice for the position since it became available on May 9 when Prier accepted the head coaching position at Princeton University.
That night, Hurlbut told SLU head coach Joe Marsh, under whom he's been an assistant for nine seasons, that he was prepared for the position.
“I made it clear to Joe,” Hurlbut said. “I've been there for six years as a volunteer and three years as a full time assistant. I've gotten more engaged every single year and I've been in a tremendous learning environment.”
Marsh, who's been with St. Lawrence for 26 years, had been preparing Prier to take over the program when he eventually retires. Now, Hurlbut, a Massena native who was an All American at St. Lawrence, may be the legendary coach's successor.
“When you go to (associate head coach), I think it puts him in that position,” Marsh said. “He's a guy that will get serious consideration for it. He would have my support in that respect.”
Hurlbut wants to someday become a head hockey coach, too. The 44-year-old coach said he's absorbed the coaching and teaching methods throughout his playing and coaching career and is excited to employ them with the Saints.
“Coach Marsh is a huge influence on me. I'm looking forward to a relationship with Joe Marsh and to be prepared to be a head coach,” Hurlbut said. “I'm very much interested in that.”
Hurlbut's playing career spanned 13 professional seasons beyond St. Lawrence. He reached the NHL five times, playing in a total of 29 games, 23 with the New York Rangers.
“He's a perfect fit,” Marsh said. “He played here, he was a real good player for us. I think the professional connection helps a lot of guys, too.”
Hurlbut's been an active member of Marsh's coaching staff, despite not having the more prestigious title. Marsh said he believes in a team coaching effort and neither of his assistants are delegated more tasks than the other.
“I don't think the players will see a big change with how things go forward,” Hurlbut said of the day-to-day routine. “Obviously, I'll take a lead role in on-ice instruction. Bob (Prier) had his own style. I'm just going to be Mike Hurlbut and go forward from there.”
Hurlbut's promotion means St. Lawrence still has to fill one coaching spot on Joe Marsh's staff. The search committee is just being formed and all the applicants are being sorted.
Marsh said he hopes to have a coach in place in the next two weeks and physically joining the staff by mid-June.
“We don't want to drag it out through the summer,” Marsh said. “Right now we're gathering up the information and all the applications. We'll go through the proper steps and make the hire.”