Designated Hitter: Former Ephs assistant Muse excited to join Predators' coaching staff

If the Nashville Predators win a Stanley Cup in the next year or two, there might be a strip of purple on the blue and gold banner that hangs from its arena roof.

That's because Dan Muse, just hired as an assistant coach by the Predators, got his coaching start at Williams College, working for Bill Kangas.

"I loved every second of it," Muse said of his tenure with Kangas. "That was my first job working in college hockey, period. The opportunity that Bill Kangas gave me was one that I'll be forever grateful for."

Muse was hired last week by the Predators as an assistant coach. He was Kangas' assistant back in the 2007-08 hockey season. Williams was 9-12-4 that year, two seasons before Alex Smigelski blossomed into an All-American and a one-year pro player.

Muse, who skated at Stonehill, went from Williams to Yale to the Chicago Steel of the amateur U.S. Hockey League. Last season, he coached Chicago to a championship.

While Muse said that when he was skating at Lansing Chapman Rink, coaching in the NHL was not on the radar but it was always in the back of his mind.

"The short answer, absolutely," said Muse. "The long answer, in this profession, any time you're in this profession as an athlete or a coach, you want to get better every year and take yourself to higher levels.

"I think, absolutely, in that regard, I feel extremely fortunate and extremely blessed by the opportunity."

Muse will be working with the forwards and be part of the penalty kill planing.

Part of what makes this hire so interesting is the small world aspect of it.

Muse has no NHL experience. Head coach Peter Laviolette does, both as a player and a coach. But both men come from the small college ranks. Muse coached at Williams, while Laviolette played — believe it or not — at Westfield State.

What are the odds of that happening?

Then, Muse told me that while he and his new boss haven't talked much D-III hockey, they have talked about the Bay State.

"More [talk] about Mass. high school hockey. We did talk a little bit about the fact that he's from Franklin, Mass., and I went to high school in Canton, Mass.," Muse said. "They're both in the Hockomock League, which makes it a small world. I only went to high school in Canton. But my wife and I are both from Canton."

The new Predators assistant chuckled when we discussed that Kangas might take some time during his sabbatical this year to visit Nashville. Muse said he'd love to see him.

"Bill is somebody I consider, and I know he would say the same thing, he is a very, very personal friend. He's somebody I've stayed in communication with ever since I left there," Muse said. "He's just a great human being and a great coach. I took a ton from the experience that I had there."

Muse joins former NHL player Kevin McCarthy on the bench in Nashville. McCarthy, a former head coach of the Springfield Falcons, has been an assistant with Laviolette in Philadelphia, Carolina and now Nashville. Muse said that his year in the Purple Valley is something other young coaches should aspire to do.

"I tell people now all the time ... younger guys getting into coaching, if somebody has any questions for me," he said. "I'll always say if you can get an opportunity to coach Division III for a year, it's one of the best things you can do starting out. It's a smaller staff and especially at programs like Williams, you get to do everything. You're forced to do everything.

"You're forced to jump into the water with both feet."

Muse said he watched the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and even though the Predators did not win, Muse said what he saw out of Nashville has him juiced up and ready to go.

The Canton native will coach his first game on Thursday, Oct. 5, in Boston against the Bruins.

"For me, right now, I can't look that far ahead," he said. "That time will come."

Reach sports columnist Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.


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