Whittet ’94 to return home as men’s hockey coach

Sports Editor
Monday, August 3, 2009

Brendan Whittet ’94, an East Providence native who spent 11 years at Dartmouth as an assistant hockey coach, has returned to be head coach of Brown men’s hockey.

After an extensive search process, Whittet was chosen to replace Roger Grillo, who resigned on June 1 after 12 seasons behind the Brown bench to become the regional manager for USA Hockey’s American Development Model.

“It has always been my dream and my goal to have the opportunity to come back home,” Whittet said at a press conference July 30.

A defenseman and four-year letter-winner as an undergraduate, Whittet, who then coached the Bears for two seasons, becomes the 15th head coach in the 111-year history of the program.

The men’s hockey team has not had a winning season since 2004-2005, but Whittet’s experience at ECAC rival Dartmouth could make him an ideal candidate to turn the Bears around. In Hanover, N.H., Whittet helped revive a moribund Big Green program. Dartmouth posted seven straight winning seasons from 2000 through 2007 and won the 2006 ECAC regular-season championship and the 2007 Ivy League title.

But Director of Athletics Michael Goldberger is hoping Whittet brings more than hockey acumen to the Bears.

In his introductory remarks at the press event last week, Goldberger said the search committee was looking for a coach with a sharp hockey mind who possessed integrity and school pride.

“He is so passionate about Brown ice hockey,” Goldberger said. “His enthusiasm is absolutely contagious.”

Whittet said he wants to build a hockey team that plays with energy and aggressiveness in an attacking, up-tempo style. But he was most effusive when he spoke of wanting his players to reflect the spirit of Brown.

“I love this place,” Whittet said. “I grew here. I went here for a reason. The school is about excellence.” He said he wants players who live up to that standard on and off the ice.

Whittet played in 74 games at Brown, helping to lead the Bears to an Ivy League title in 1992, back-to-back trips to the ECAC Final Four in 1993 and 1994 and to the NCAA tournament in 1993.

In 1997, Whittet returned to Brown as an assistant on Grillo’s first staff, where he helped lift the Bears to a fourth-place finish during the ECAC regular season after the team finished 12th the previous year. “The experience was unbelievable,” Whittet said. “I will forever be grateful to Roger for giving me that opportunity. It’s very tough to progress through the coaching ranks.”

Whittet reunited with former Brown coach Bob Gaudet the following season at Dartmouth, beginning what would be an 11-year partnership. He worked primarily with the defensemen, but also oversaw the penalty-killing unit and was heavily involved in recruiting.

The Big Green program, which had fallen on hard times, became a national power during Whittet’s tenure, posting four seasons with at least 18 wins, including two 20-win seasons. Dartmouth made the semifinals of the ECAC tournament in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007.

“We (were) able to revitalize that program through hard work, through dedicated (and) through making sure that we were on top of the recruiting process,” Whittet said. “That program is now an elite program year in and year out in terms of the ECAC and nationally.”

Whittet now faces the same task with the Bears, who finished 5-23-5 last year. But he said his players are ready to win.

“They are kids that are just hungry to learn,” he said. “They are kids that are hungry to have success.”

“I see that in their eyes and I hear that in their voices,” Whittet added. “We’re going to bring that out on a daily basis.”