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As Spartan Hockey Struggles, Assistant Coach Tom Newton Remains the Backbone!


While MSU struggles with Ferris and getting thumped outside at UM, the program still has Coach Newt as it's backbone.  Photo courtesy of Kevin Krzeminski.

While MSU struggles with Ferris and getting thumped outside at UM, the program still has Coach Newt as it's backbone. Photo courtesy of Kevin Krzeminski.




In college sports, longevity is often overlooked and the catch phrase “what have you done for me lately” constantly enters the forefront of fans, administration and boosters minds.


At Michigan State, no one embodies the Spartan Nation spirit more than Assistant Hockey Coach, Tom Newton.


This 21 year veteran to East Lansing brings his passion for this University, Program and men he coaches each time he gets the opportunity; and if you get a chance to talk to any of his athletes, you’ll know what I’m talking about.


Former Spartan and current NHL star Jim Slater said of Newton “He’s been a big part of this program for many years. You can see the success and he’s been a part of it.”


When you ask coach about what his favorite part of the day is, he’ll tell you something that sound like a surprise; practice. “The highlight of my day is practice during the season. I like getting on [the ice] with the kids and I still get a kick out of trying to get them better when they’re out there.”


It’s this hardworking mentality that has drawn his admiration from several of his former players who have benefited from his coaching. Current Detroit Redwing forward, Justin Abdelkader said, “He’s been awesome; ever since I’ve been here.”


But Newton’s job doesn’t just begin when student-athletes enter Munn Ice Arena as freshman. He’s a star recruiter and handles players as they enter elite status in hockey and enter college. For him, “Coaching is all about relationships.”


These building blocks of a program that starts sometimes up to two years before college and last years after; and Coach’s keys to keeping these relationships; for him it’s simple “Get them focused and heading in the right direction, and do it in a way that they’ll accept. I find you’ll have better results.”


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Spartan great Drew Miller says Coach Newton is under appreciated and that “He’s allowed me to be part of the Spartan family at an early age and he’s done a great job.”


Between now Head Coach Rick Comley and former Coach Ron Mason, Newton has been here a long time and seen many players come and go. But what you might not know is that he’s also responsible for seeing them come back.


Each August, he organizes and runs the Michigan State Pro Camp. This weeklong training event brings back former Spartans preparing for the NHL and some of the biggest names from the past. When asked about Newton’s impact on how current and former players are treated, Drew Miller said “This Program’s treated us the best I’ve seen… It’s a great program to learn from and he’s been here a long time.”


This program is on the ropes. With this once revenue producing program now losing money at an alarming rate, and decreased fan interest evidenced by embarrassing attendance at the seasons final home playoff series against Michigan, Michigan State Hockey is in danger.Â


During Newton’s tenure the program has not struggled as now. He has seen so much on the ice before and knows what it takes to be successful in hockey and for Spartan Nation; “You bleed green and sacrifice so much for success.”


Sometimes this effort and success isn’t enough. Sometimes outside forces dictate a new direction. One suggestion that’s been swirling around college hockey circles to try and create more of a buzz and generate more revenue is expansion and more specifically the creation of a Big Ten Hockey Conference. This shift from the CCHA current structure could be bring some of the best hockey talent together and possibly play on the rivalries that have been forged by other sports.


Face it, the Michigan State v. Michigan rivalry is not dead, but it last years end of season crowd sure would say that for a school that could get 10,000 to a MSU vs UM checkers game, there are serious issues.


Either way, for this program to regain the life it once have, Coach Tom Newton needs to remain part of this program, just has he as for over 20 years.


For as much as we can say about his coaching accolades, Newton lists one of his successes above all else; being able to raise both his daughters in and around the East Lansing area and providing them and his wife with stable ground to forge they’re own relationships, just a he has.


In a world where some of the core values and principles of life are overlooked for winning and longevity is thought of as obsolete, Michigan State Assistant Coach Tom Newtown exemplifies everything good in college athletics and he deserves to be an integral part here for a long time.


The program is struggling, but thankfully Coach Newton remains close as the Backbone of Spartan Hockey. The program can’t be allowed to remain as it is. Newton however remains a steady backbone.