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Cameron Smith

Former NHL stars return to resurrect suburban Boston teams

Cameron Smith
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The world can be a personal oyster for former NHL stars who manage their wealth well. Why work when you can be a well-known personality, living on past glories with enough money for a perfectly comfortable life? Yet those possibilities haven't tempted a trio of former hockey stars that have taken similar paths, returning to coach high school hockey in the Boston suburbs.

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According to a pair of stories from the Boston Globe, former NHL stars Tony Amonte and Scott Young and U.S. Olympian Shawn McEachern -- a former teammate of Young's at Boston University -- have brought new life to three different Independent School League teams. Amonte has taken the reins at Thayer (Mass.) Academy, while longtime friends Young and McEachern are now leading St. Mark's (Mass.) School and Rivers (Mass.) School, respectively.

For Amonte, the new job was a long time coming, with the former Blackhawks star returning to the school at which he first blossomed, just in time to first coach his son at the middle school level for a year before then taking over the high school program this fall.

"I definitely enjoy the game," Amonte told the Boston Globe. "I know a lot about the game. I don't know much about anything else, businesswise. But it's been a lot more fun than I expected. And it's going to be fun trying to rebuild this thing, getting kids back interested in Thayer Academy and letting them know that we're a school that's going to make a push.

"We've just got to get back to our identity; we're a working man's school. The kids are working hard; they work hard in school, and they work hard on the ice. We're obviously a South Shore school, so we've got to get those kids from the South Shore to start reapplying to Thayer and start thinking that Thayer's a great possibility as a school instead of driving by and going to another private school."

Amonte brought instant credibility back to a struggling program, though he knows he has work ahead of him. Thayer got out to a 4-6 start to the season, far short of the total success that the alum who scored 198 points in his high school career hopes to bring. Yet those four wins are already more than the team racked up in all of 2009-10, and both Amonte and Thayer athletic director Matt McGuirk are convinced Amonte will resurrect the school's hockey fortunes.

Young and McEachern have inherited similar rebuilding jobs, though they take over programs with slightly more success than Thayer has enjoyed in recent seasons.

Young was hired with St. Mark's coming off an 8-20 season, desperate to reach the heights it last achieved in the 2002-03 season, when it won the ISL's Eberhart Division.

"My philosophy is I'm going to push you hard, I'm going to push you very hard in practice to do things well, but you're going to enjoy coming to the rink," Young told the Globe.

"Being in the NHL for so long, there were times when it wasn't that much fun. There's a fine line of pushing them to become better players, and also making sure that they're really dying to play for you."

Like Amonte, Young is driven by the knowledge that he's helping bring success back to the school he called home.

At 6-7 early in the season, the former NHL star has earned a wealth of respect from both his players and employers, as has McEachern, who said he's employing many of the coaching techniques used by the man who coached all three former NHL players in college: Boston University's Jack Parker.

"I think we're trying to build a team that works hard and works together," McEachern told the Globe. "Playing for Jack Parker all the years, you try to take what you can from the guys you work with."

All three men are approaching their current jobs with that same philosophy, trying to build teams in their own, hard-working image.

"What sticks out about both [Young and McEachern's] teams is the work ethic," Amonte told the Globe. "They know how to get the guys working. They know what it takes to get to the next level."

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