EAST LANSING, Mich. — Tom Anastos, a Michigan State alumnus who has excelled in the sport of hockey as a player, coach, administrator, and visionary, has been appointed to the position of Head Coach of the Michigan State Hockey program, according to an announcement made by Athletics Director Mark Hollis. Anastos, who has served as the commissioner of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association since 1998, becomes just the sixth Michigan State hockey coach in program history and the fourth in the modern era.
“I am extremely excited about returning to Michigan State to lead the Spartan Hockey program and once again be a part of the MSU Athletics Department family,” said Anastos. “I have obviously maintained a relationship with MSU and been in close contact with the hockey program for the last 13 years in my role with the CCHA, but this opportunity is incredibly special.
“The expectations I have for our program will be to compete annually for conference and national championships. That was the expectation when I was here as a player and as an assistant coach, and I don’t believe it should be any different in my role as head coach. In our locker room, we have quality young men who are good players, good students and good citizens, which are all hallmarks of this program. I am excited to get started, to hire a staff, and to get myself re-acclimated within the MSU community.”
“Bringing Tom Anastos into the MSU Athletics Department to run our hockey program brings someone with energy and passion not only for the sport of hockey, but for our University and program as well,” said Hollis. “He can attract high-caliber talent and develop those players into those who are attractive to the National Hockey League. He places a premium on education, and the drive and desire to compete for championships.
“Hockey is important in the state of Michigan, and it is also important to Michigan State. We will continue to provide the resources to appropriately support this program, and to best prepare our student-athletes for their personal future … in the NHL and the business world.”
“Tom Anastos is an incredibly accomplished individual, and the same characteristics which have made him such a successful leader since his graduation from Michigan State will pay dividends for our hockey program, our entire athletic department and University,” added Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon. “Tom is a dynamic individual who will be an asset for Team MSU as we move forward. There is no doubt that he is passionate about developing young people, and we are excited for our next era to begin.”
Recognized by The Hockey News in each of the past five years on the list of the 100 most influential and powerful people in the sport (No. 46 in 2011), Anastos has an unrivaled passion for the game and savvy blend of administrative, business and communication skills, a Who’s Who list of connections, and has provided progressive vision and dynamic leadership for college hockey. He will now bring those traits to Michigan State to advance the on-ice success and stature in college hockey of his alma mater, where he will guide the Spartans into their 70th varsity season when the puck drops on Oct. 7 in the Icebreaker Tournament. He will also be helping Michigan State into the Big Ten Hockey Conference, as was recommended by athletic directors in an announcement on Monday, March 21 and would begin play with the 2013-14 season.
Anastos, who was honored as MSU’s “Distinguished Spartan” by the hockey program in 2004, both played and coached at his alma mater before stepping into an administrative role. He was a four-year letterwinner at Michigan State (1981-85) for former coach Ron Mason, and received his bachelor’s degree in construction management in 1987. He was in the first class of Michigan State players to skate exclusively in the CCHA after MSU left the WCHA as he helped the Spartans to three Great Lakes Invitational titles, a regular-season CCHA Championship in 1985, and four consecutive CCHA Tournament titles. His Spartan teams made four NCAA Tournament appearances, finishing fourth in the country in 1984 and losing a heartbreaking quarterfinal series to Providence in 1985. As a senior, he earned second-team all-conference honors and was named to the all-tournament teams at the CCHA Tournament and Great Lakes Invitational. In his career, Anastos skated in 151 games, scored 70 goals and recorded 73 assists for 153 points, and amassed 102 penalty minutes. He still holds the MSU record for short-handed goals in a season (7, scored in 1983-84), and ranks in a tie for fourth in the MSU annals with 10 career short-handed markers.
Anastos, a 2000 inductee into his hometown Dearborn, (Mich)., Sports Hall of Fame, played junior hockey for the Paddock Pools Saints of the NAHL and was the first player ever drafted from the league by an NHL team when the Montreal Canadiens selected him in 1981. The sixth-round pick of Montreal (124th overall) played one season in the Canadiens organization, then joined the coaching staff at the University of Michigan-Dearborn where he served as head coach of that program from 1987-90, compiling a 68-37-7 record.
In the fall of 1990, Anastos returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach under Ron Mason. Those two teams went a combined 43-28-13, and in 1991-92, advanced to the Frozen Four, and lost to eventual National Champion Lake Superior State, which was coached by current Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson.
In his most recent role as CCHA commissioner, he has overseen the growth and changes in the membership over 13 years, and in April 2010, the CCHA played host to the record-breaking 2010 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit, the first Frozen Four to be held in a non-traditional hockey venue. A crowd of 34,954 watched the semifinal games and 37,592 attended the title game between Boston College and Wisconsin. The individual day attendance marks and the three-game total of 72,546 easily shattered the Frozen Four records, and the title-game attendance figure stands as the North American record for an indoor hockey game.
In concert with his role of CCHA commissioner, Anastos has served as the president of the Hockey Commissioner’s Association (HCA), a group comprised of the five commissioners from NCAA Division I Hockey. The HCA addresses common issues and concerns at a national level, and the group’s efforts include on-going discussions with the NHL’s corporate office in New York, sponsorship of the annual Warrior Ice Breaker Tournament and the College Hockey All-Access radio show on NHL Home Ice XM 204, Sirius 208.
In 2009, in his capacity as president of the HCA, he spearheaded a college hockey delegation which traveled to Florida to meet with the 30 general managers of NHL teams. The same year, he was key in the procuring of a grant from the National Hockey League through USA Hockey. The funding was used by the Anastos-led HCA to create College Hockey Inc., an educational and promotional entity charged with raising the profile and help foster the growth of college hockey. Now in its second year, College Hockey Inc. is under the direction of Executive Director Paul Kelly, former head of the National Hockey League’s Players Association.
Anastos’ commitment to growing the sport has resulted in an annual statewide celebration known as “Hockey Day in Michigan” The grass roots initiative, which includes the live broadcast of two CCHA games on FOX Sports Detroit, has been successfully imitated by USA Hockey to encourage fans, players, coaches and officials to unite in their passion for their sport and help introduce others to the game.
Television also was a focal point for the CCHA under Anastos. The CCHA was the first hockey conference to sign television agreements with CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV), Toronto, Canada-based Leafs TV, and the NHL Network.
Prior to his appointment with the CCHA, Anastos served as president of the North American Hockey League, a Tier II junior league, for four seasons. During that time, the NAHL attracted strong ownership groups and developed into one of the top leagues for college-bound players in the United States.
Anastos is very active in amateur hockey, both as a coach in the Detroit-based Honeybaked hockey program and as an administrator. He is one of two NCAA representatives on USA Hockey’s board of directors and has been a long-time member of its International Council and Junior Council which oversees the activities of the organization’s international programs and US junior hockey.
Anastos also serves on the board of directors for One Goal, a non-profit organization comprised of hockey’s North American industry leaders seeking to improve awareness and understanding of hockey, so parents can make informed decisions about involving their families in the game. He also is a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors.
Anastos, 47, lives in Farmington Hills, Mich., with his wife, Lisa. They have five children: daughters Lauren, Jenna, Alyssa, and Andrea, and son Drew.