Former Axemen coach Coolen named Assistant Coach with Buffalo Sabres
Former Acadia coach helped guide tiny nation Latvia to successful Olympics
Tom Coolen has climbed from the AUS to the NHL.
The former Acadia Axemen hockey coach was named one of four assistants to Buffalo Sabres’ head coach Ted Nolan earlier this week.
The Sabres announced Aug. 4 he would join Nolan’s staff in Buffalo, along with Bryan Trottier, Danny Flynn and goaltending coach Arturs Irb.
Coolen, 60, was born and raised in Halifax and is best known around Nova Scotia for building an AUS dynasty at Acadia in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He guided the Axemen to their first-ever national hockey championship in 1993 and you could even go so far as to say he helped raise the profile of the entire conference on the CIS landscape.
Following his university days, which also included two seasons at UNB, Coolen coached the Moncton Wildcats, the same team Nolan guided in 2005-06. Coolen then made several coaching stops around the world the past number of years, including Texas, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy and Finland. His involvement with the Latvian national team came about roughly two years ago.His involvement with the Latvian national team came about roughly two years ago.“I had been coaching in Europe for just about 10 years so I kind of knew the scene,” Coolen said. “I knew the Latvians were in the market for someone to take over their national team program. I initiated the process and the first guy I thought of was Ted because I knew he wasn’t coaching so he’d be available, but also because of the quality of coach they would be looking for. Plus there was a big connection with (Latvian players) Oskars Bartulis and Martins Karsums, who were both Moncton Wildcats with him. So then it went from there and we worked it out that I would be the assistant coach and I would continue working (as a teacher) in New Brunswick and come over when I could. It’s just been a great gig.”