Damon Whitten is new Laker coach

April 26, 2014

There is a new hockey coach in place at Lake Superior State University.

Damon Whitten was introduced at noon today as the new bench boss of the Lakers.

The 37-year old Whitten takes over from Jim Roque, who was fired on March 11 after nine seasons at the helm of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association team.

A native Michigander, Whitten has extensive experience as a Division 1 college coach — albeit as an assistant.

Whitten has spent the past four seasons as an assistant with the Michigan Tech Huskies. Before that, he spent two seasons as an assistant at Alaska-Anchorage and one at Wayne State and prior, was a volunteer assistant at his alma mater, Michigan State.

During his playing days, Whitten patrolled left wing for four seasons at Michigan State and then played at the minor-pro level over a three-year period. Before Michigan State, Whitten skated in the North American Hockey League and Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

In taking the top hockey job at LSSU, Whitten inherits a program that has struggled over the past 17 seasons, posting just four winning records during that time — a major fall from glory from the national championship years of 1988, 1992 and 1994.

The Lakers will enter the 2014-2015 season minus eight graduating seniors, including all three goalies.

To be sure, while the hiring of Whitten signals a fresh start and the beginning of a new era, the Laker program is at a critical stage and needs to be re-defined.

Attendance at Taffy Abel Arena has plunged dramatically over the past several years as average game-night crowds of 3,000-plus have dipped to less than half that.

In addition to losing supporters from the Michigan Soo, once-strong fan interest in the Lakers from the Canadian Soo has also dropped considerably over the past 10 or so years.

As well, the Lakers have lost touch with many alumni who have said they did not feel welcome at LSSU during the nine years that Roque was coach.

The Lakers also have a frosty relationship with the cross-town Soo Eagles to the extent that Roque bypassed multiple players from the North American Hockey League team who ended up at other Division 1 schools.

Without question, Whitten has a big job ahead of him.

But the book on Whitten suggests he is a hardworking individual who knows the game and is a players coach.

And there are old Lakers from the glory days who have made it known that they support the hiring of Whitten.

The stage is set to look ahead and try to re-invent Laker hockey.

PHOTO: New Laker coach Damon Whitten at the podium during today’s press conference. (Photo by John Shibley.)

What you think about “Damon Whitten is new Laker coach”

  1. You were right Randy!
    Well Laker Fans we might as well support this decision. This might be our last hope!

    1. This is the last chance Lakers hockey has. Damon is Rick Comley and Ron Masons guy. He is the top choice. He is a Lakers pedigree.

  2. This still sucks as Joey did not evan get an interview in spite of all he has accomplished as a Coach and for Laker Hockey & he is a Soo boy to boot .. .. and I dont think its right for Joey to be treated in such a way by LSSU Athletics. I am gonna support the new Coach tho as Randy Russon says here Laker Hockey is at a critacle stage and that is a Hundred percent correct imo.
    Randy .. great job on this story btw.

  3. Perhaps Joey didn’t want the job as he is happy at Northern in that situation? Damon is a great choice as were the others.

    1. Charly, as per previous stories, Joe Shawhan did apply for the Laker job and was upset to not get an interview.

      1. Joeys application ended up in trash bin. Lakers hockey didn’t want a can of worms opened up. So it was time to bring in new blood from Michigan State.

  4. It would be nice if at some point Kris Dunbar and/or someone else on the search committee gives us an explanation of why Joe Shawhan didn’t get an interview. I certainly would like to know that. In the meantime, I welcome Damon Whitten as new Lakers coach

  5. We need to give our new Coach a chance to restoar Laker Hockey to what it used to be .
    \ As fans we can only hope that Coach Whitten takes both of the Leagues in his own yard seriously these being the N.A.H.L. and the N.O.J.L. which the former Coach of the Lakers paid no attentuon to which was just plain stupid.

  6. I’m excited about the new head coach. I personally think it was time to go outside of the way things have been done in the past. A fresh perspective should and could be a good thing. I would like to see some continuity though and at least keep Tim Christian on as an assistant.

  7. Junior hockey news says that Tim Christian is a finalist for the head coach of the Amarilo Bulls of the Nahl,Its too bad Damon Whitten didnt at least have a head coaching Job somewhere first,Tim Christian is as qualified as Whitten was.Not one laker alumini received a interview, When Lssu come asking alumini for money I would not be suprised if they turn their heads and said no!

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