Mike Eaves fired as UW men’s hockey coach

Mike Eaves fired as UW men’s hockey coach
Mike Eaves of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on during the first period of the semifinal game of the Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Championship against the Penn State Nittany Lions on March 21, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota.

University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez has fired men’s hockey coach Mike Eaves after 14 seasons, UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez announced Friday.

Eaves’ teams won a NCAA championship in 2006 with the Badgers, and also finished as national runner-up in 2010. Eaves’ teams compiled a 267-225-66 (.538) record and made seven NCAA tournament appearances,  during his 14 seasons at the helm.

But back-to-back losing seasons over the past two years made Athletic Director Barry Alvarez decide it was time to make a change.

“I told Mike I appreciated the work he’s done here,” Alvarez told uwbadgers.com. “I also told him that we have great tradition and standards here in hockey. He’s the gate-keeper of hockey. I’m the gate-keeper of the department. We both have a responsibility.”

Eaves is also a former player with the Badgers, and is the all-time leading scorer in program history, a two-time Most Valuable Players and a member of the UW Athletic Hall of Fame.

“Our fans and everyone expect more,” Alvarez told uwbadgers.com. “With our facilities and what we have to sell, we feel we should be at a championship level.”

But Alvarez admitted letting Eaves go was a tough call.

“I like Mike and I respect Mike,” Alvarez told uwbadgers.com. “All those things play into it. That’s what makes it very hard.

“These are never easy decisions, but I’ve got a responsibility to the university, to our fans and to everyone else. It’s just not acceptable at Wisconsin to have a hockey program in this state where we are right now.”

Eaves was hired in 2002 and quickly turned the hockey program around. His teams reached the NCAA tournament in 2004 and 2005 before winning it all in 2006, beating Boston College in the final 2-1.

Eaves also took UW to the championship game in 2010, when the Badgers lost to Boston College 5-0.

Eaves has also been successful in putting former Badgers in the NHL. All six defensemen from the 2010 squad have reached the NHL.

Alvarez said a national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.