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MSU hires Adam Nightingale as its next hockey head coach

May 3, 2022
<p>A student section member waves a Spartan flag at the beginning of the third period. The Spartans fell to the Buckeyes, 4-1, at Munn Ice Arena on Jan. 21, 2022. </p>

A student section member waves a Spartan flag at the beginning of the third period. The Spartans fell to the Buckeyes, 4-1, at Munn Ice Arena on Jan. 21, 2022.

Michigan State has hired Adam Nightingale to become the next head coach of the hockey team.

The hiring comes one month after the dismissal of Danton Cole, who spent five seasons at the helm but struggled to elevate MSU from the Big Ten basement with a 58-101-12 record. Nightingale's name was among many instantly mixed into rumors to be Cole's replacement.

“I’m extremely thankful and humbled to have the opportunity to lead at Michigan State University,” Nightingale said in the release. “Spartan hockey is a source of pride for the University, the East Lansing community, and the entire state of Michigan. I’d like to thank Athletic Director Alan Haller, Deputy AD Jennifer Smith, and everyone involved in the search process for the opportunity to come back home and once again be a part of this storied program.

“We will hire a staff that is well equipped to support our student-athletes and will be committed to developing them as a person, not just a hockey player.  We want to bring in high-level players with aspirations to work hard and help them develop to the point where they have the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League.

“Our staff will put a premium on player development so that we can play an exciting and skilled brand of hockey.  We will continue the traditions of hard-working student-athletes who are standouts not only on the ice, but also in the classroom and in our community.   We look forward to building the program back to where our proud alumni and fan base know it should be, which is the top of college hockey.”

Nightingale is a Michigan State alumnus who played for the Spartans from 2003-05 after transferring from Lake Superior State. Following four seasons in the ECHL, Nightingale returned to East Lansing as the team's Director of Hockey Operations for four seasons before being named head coach of Shattuck St. Mary's under-14 AAA team. He then spent four seasons in the NHL as a video and assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings.

In 2020-21, Nightingale joined the United States National Developmental Program as the head coach of the under-17 team and followed the same group last winter. In doing so, he helped lead Team USA to a silver medal at the under-18 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Germany on Sunday.

The team was already expected to look much different with multiple players arriving and departing via the transfer portal, but MSU now has a new face behind the bench tasked with tying it all together. Nightingale will have the pleasure of working with a newly renovated Munn Ice Arena, which is expected to be completed come puck drop in the winter.

“One thing rang very clear throughout this process. Michigan State is one of the premier college hockey programs in the country,” Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller said. "Everyone, from alumni to our loyal fans, has high expectations each and every year. I hope they’re all smiling today because the future is bright for Spartan hockey. We will take the ice this fall in a renovated Munn Ice Arena, and across the board there is a renewed commitment to the program. Perhaps most importantly, Adam brings a thorough understanding of where we are as a program, and a clear plan for what’s required to once again reach championship heights.”

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