Michigan State has hired Adam Nightingale, who played for the Spartans from 2003-05, as the eighth head hockey coach in the program's history. He replaces Danton Cole, who was fired after going 58-101-12 over five seasons at the helm in East Lansing.
"I'm extremely thankful and humbled to have the opportunity to lead at Michigan State University," Nightingale said in a press release. "Spartan hockey is a source of pride for the University, the East Lansing community, and the entire state of Michigan."
Nightingale spent the last two years as the head coach of the United States National Team Development Program.
"Adam has a passion for the school and the program, and his combination of skill development, player development and recruiting ties promises to make the next era of Spartan hockey a successful chapter in the storied history of a proud program," said MSU athletic director Alan Haller.
During his search for the next head coach of Michigan State hockey, Haller formed an advisory board made up of MSU alums, including former All-Americans and NHL players, and reached out to others in the hockey community in order to find the best fit in East Lansing.
"Criteria such as skill development, strong recruiting ties, style of play, respect throughout the hockey community and an ability to holistically develop student-athletes on and off the ice became the focus and guideposts for the search," Haller said.
The athletic director insisted that finding a former Spartan was not one of the criteria of his search.
"My focus was finding the right fit based upon the developed criteria," Haller said. "In a thorough search, one which included conversations with some successful current head coaches, Adam matched all the established criteria."
Michigan State has under-performed for a number of years, including seven consecutive losing seasons. That's unacceptable for a program that has won three national championships (1966, 1986, 2007) and made 27 total trips to the NCAA Tournament, including 11 Frozen Four appearances.
"One thing rang very clear throughout this process. Michigan State is one of the premier college hockey programs in the country," 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."
The Spartans have not reached the NCAA Tournament since 2012, have not won a conference championship since 2000-01, or won a conference tournament since 2006.
"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," Haller said. "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."
Nightingale spent four seasons in the NHL as an assistant coach, prior to working with seven different U.S. teams on the international stage. He brings that experience with him as he attempts to turn things around at Michigan State.
"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," Nightingale said.
"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."