Hall of Fame hockey coach Bill Hanson’s dismissal by Catholic Memorial, first reported by The Boston Herald Friday, has caught fellow coaches and colleagues off guard.
According to the report, Hanson met with school president Dr. Peter Folan Thursday and was informed he was not being brought back as a guidance counselor or for his 39th season as head coach.
Hanson became head coach in 1976, amassing a 608-196-74 record to rank third all-time in career wins in Massachusetts behind the late Ed Burns (Arlington) and Marty Pierce (Matignon). Under Hanson, CM won 20 Catholic Conference titles and 17 State championships, including 13 in the 25-year history of the elite Division 1A Tournament.
CM had slipped since winning its last championship in 2009 and did not qualify for the post-season in three of past five years. Last season’s 6-10-4 record was the program’s worst in more than 30 years.
“When you think of Catholic Memorial, you think of Bill Hanson,” said Kris Hanson, coach of the 2015 1A champion St. John’s Prep. “As a player in the ‘90s I played against him four years at St. John’s. And, in the past eight years against him as a coach, we developed a friendship. I used to pick his brain about everything.
“It’s kind of surprising and disappointing. I enjoyed competing against him and talking to him before every game we played,” he added. “The numbers don’t lie – 17 championships in 38 years is just about one every two years and really beyond impressive.”
B.C. High coach John Flaherty spoke of the respect CM’s players had for Hanson.
“He has won the admiration and respect of so many players. Having heard how highly they speak of him and hold him in such high esteem, that is how his career will be measured. It was an honor to coach against Coach Hanson and I am a better coach from having done so. The Catholic Conference and Massachusetts High School hockey will miss him. I wish him the very best in whatever his future brings,” Flaherty said via text.
The family of CM statistician Adam Busalacchi has been involved with the school since its earliest days.
“This is a very sad day for CM and for high school hockey but one thing that cannot be changed or forgotten is Coach Hanson’s legacy. Ask any of his players and they will tell of how much they became better players thanks to the coach. Just as important was how much of a mentor he was off the ice, his sacrifices and determination to see each one of his players succeed not just on the ice but in life itself. Coach Hanson was Catholic Memorial. I can say without a doubt Coach Hanson was an integral part of making CM home,” said Busalacchi.
That respect extended well beyond Massachusetts. That was apparent when Bruce Shatel, coach of New Jersey power Delbarton, extended a personal invitation for CM to play in the National Hockey League’s NHL’s Yankee Stadium Series in January of 2014.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Bill Hanson and his program. They play the game right way and he is a class act,” Shatel told HNIB News at that time.
Hanson’s awards include: national John Mariucci Award (2009), Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame induction (2010), CM Hall of Fame (2001), USA Today National Coach of the Year (1994, 1998). Among the many high profile players he coached at CM are current Harvard coach Ted Donato and 1996 NHL Vezina trophy winner Jim Carey.
Speculation is that former NHL player Ian Moran, brought on this past year as CM’s assistant AD and freshman hockey coach, may be in line to take over for Hanson.