Tuesday, July 17, 2012

PSU Adds S&C Coach, Equipment Manager

Penn State today announced the addition of head strength and conditioning coach Rob McLean and equipment manager Adam Sheehan to the men's staff.

As everyone knows, strength and conditioning is a vital component to every athletic program, and indeed every athlete. So, it would follow that if Penn State is going to recruit players with NHL aspirations, it would help to hire an NHL strength and conditioning coach.

That's exactly what PSU has done in poaching McLean away from the Colorado Avalanche, his employer since June 2010. McLean has also been the head equipment manager of the Avalanche (1995-1999) and the Florida Panthers (2005-2008).

If you glossed over those years, they include the Stanley Cup championship won by the Avs in their first season after relocating from Quebec.

Last one on the fourth row.

Does your strength and conditioning coach have his name on the Stanley Cup? That's what I thought.

The new most hated man in Penn State hockey (internally, anyway, and I'm sure S&C coaches don't mind that label, because it means they're doing their job well) has a nice list of accomplishments as a strength coach as well. Former first overall NHL Entry Draft selection Erik Johnson became a believer in McLean during his first offseason in Denver last summer:
"In the past, I really bulked up a lot and was a little too top-heavy," he said. "I've improved my footwork and foot speed. I think I've become more explosive and more powerful all around."
Colorado's front office apparently agrees, as they recently re-signed Johnson through 2016.

Also last summer, T.J. Galiardi (now with the San Jose Sharks) put on 20 pounds of muscle, thanks in part to daily 7 a.m. workouts with McLean.
"I think I've always been fit, but I just took things to a new level," said Galiardi.

"He's not going to get sand kicked in his face anymore," [then-teammate Paul] Stastny said.
The University of New Brunswick graduate has also spent two years as the head strength and conditioning specialist with BRS Sports (2008-2010) in addition to his three years in a role with Mission Hockey as a manager of advanced concepts design (2001-2004).

Sheehan was previously the assistant equipment manager for the Detroit Red Wings, and has also worked for the Carolina Hurricanes and Phoenix Coyotes in the NHL and Sacred Heart collegiately.

It's not very often that I can present a guy's career to you in his own words, but that's exactly what I'm about to do in Sheehan's case.

I went to college [at Western Michigan] for criminal justice and psychology. I moved to Phoenix in 1998 to pursue that career. I worked with my team in college and when I got to Phoenix, I called the Coyotes equipment staff and asked if they needed some help part time. At that point they didn’t but they ended up helping me get a game night job with the marketing staff where I spent two seasons.

During that time I got to know Stan [Wilson] and Tony [Silva] from the Coyotes [equipment] staff and when a spot opened in 2000, they remembered me bugging the sh*t out of them for two years and brought me on the game night staff. I spent the next few years learning from Stan Wilson how to sharpen skates, do repairs, sewing and a lot of the things we do on a day to day basis. Their staff took me under their wing and treated me fantastic over all the years I was there. I was only a part time, game night guy so I was looking for a full time job with another team.

I got that chance in 2003 with Carolina where I held the same position that I have with the Red Wings. After that season, the NHL lockout happened and I returned to Phoenix briefly before getting a job with Sacred Heart University as equipment manager for the men’s and women’s teams. It was a fantastic experience and it helped me learn a lot. In the NHL we have everything we need to do the job. In college, you don’t. You spend time inventing ways to get things done when you don’t have everything you might need.

In 2008, a spot opened in Detroit and I had been hoping to move home to be back closer to family and work for my hometown team. I pretty much blew up [Wings equipment manager] Paul [Boyer]’s phone and was hired a few days later. I’m someone who believes in making the best of opportunities that come in life and don’t wait for things to be handed to me. I go for what I want!

Beyond the additions of McLean and Sheehan, PSU has also hired Justin Rogers as an athletic trainer. He is a 2009 Michigan State graduate who was an athletic training student for the Spartan men's hockey team, and more recently was with the NFL's Chicago Bears and the University of Nebraska's football program.

Also, expanded roles have been announced for both director of hockey operations Billy Downey and Ice Lions coach Josh Hand. Hand will serve as a volunteer assistant coach for the NCAA team, while Downey adds video coaching to his responsibilities.


  1. Does Downey have experience with video scouting/coaching? It is a fairly important role, especially if he keeps that position when the jump to B1G Hockey occurs. That was the announcement that shocked me and left me questioning somewhat.

  2. It's a vital (and underappreciated) role for sure, but Downey definitely has the ability. He had video responsibilities in the ECHL and I believe also in his first tour at PSU. Actually, the surprise to me was that he took on a huge extra responsibility with a young and growing family, but hey, that's between him and his wife haha.

    I do think, and this is speculation on my part, that he was getting a coaching itch again - he frequently was behind the bench last year while Fisher and Lindsay were off recruiting. It's also worth pointing out that most schools don't have a dedicated "AD of hockey," so I'm sure Battista makes the director of ops roles redundant in some ways.

    I forgot to mention in the post that this creates a parallel type of structure with the women's program, where Mo Stroemel is the director of ops/video coordinator.