There is a hockey buzz about both sides of the International Bridge in the wake of the recent firing of Jim Roque as head coach of the Lake Superior State University Lakers.
Roque was let go as LSSU coach after the Lakers failed to make the playoffs in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association this 2013-2014 season.
As a national search for a new coach at LSSU is underway, there have been no shortage of names being mentioned as potential candidates to replace Roque, who had a below-average, nine-year run as the Lakers bench boss.
Among the prominent names being bandied about in Sault Ste. Marie watering holes and via e-mail and website rumour mills are four men who all have a prior and proud association with Laker hockey.
Popular choices to replace Roque include Joe Shawhan, Rich Metro, Paul Jerrard and Ron Rolston.
A Michigan Soo native, Shawhan played for the Lakers and later served as a goalie coach and then full-time assistant at LSSU before moving to Northern Michigan University as an assistant in 2010.
Shawhan also had a prior, spectacular, eight-season run as a head coach in the North American Hockey League with the erstwhile Soo Indians.
Metro, like Shawhan, hails from the Michigan Soo.
He was an assistant coach at LSSU for four years before leaving in 2011 to take a pro job as a head coach in France.
Jerrard played for the Lakers during their 1983-1987 glory years before a 10-year career in the American Hockey League.
He later was a Laker assistant coach for four seasons before moving up to the pro ranks which included a recent two-year gig as an assistant with the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League.
Rolston is another former Laker assistant and also assisted at Clarkson University, Harvard University and Boston College before moving to the pros.
He coached parts of two NHL seasons with the Buffalo Sabres before being fired earlier this 2013-2014 campaign and replaced by Ted Nolan.
Other names that have been mentioned — albeit more as darkhorse candidates — as possible successors to Roque are former Laker and NHL goalie Darrin Madeley, who now coaches at the major midget level in the Chicago area, and current LSSU assistant Doug Laprade.
As for Roque, speculation is he could land another Division 1 coaching job, though most-likely as an assistant.
His firing ends an association with LSSU that dates back to 1983, when he was a freshman forward with the Lakers.
Since his Laker playing days ended in 1987, Roque has garnered considerable Division 1 coaching experience.
He served three separate stints as an assistant coach at LSSU before being elevated to head coach in 2005.
Roque was also an assistant coach at Clarkson University for six years.
In all, Roque has been involved at the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association level for 27 years — four as a player and another 23 as a coach.
Roque’s tenure as Laker head coach started well with winning seasons in each of the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 campaigns. But since then, the Lakers have had only winning season in the last seven years.
In all, Roque’s nine-year record as Laker bench boss reads 136 wins, 165 losses, 46 ties and a .458 winning percentage.