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Tom Anastos, a Michigan State alumnus who has excelled in the sport of hockey as a player, coach, administrator, and visionary, was appointed to the position of head coach of the Michigan State Hockey program on March 23, 2011. Anastos, who previously served as the commissioner of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for 13 seasons, became just the sixth Michigan State hockey coach in program history and the fourth in the modern era. 2014-15 will mark Anastos' fourth season behind the Spartan bench.
Anastos' first season behind the bench (2011-12) featured an experience-laden team with nine seniors and 14 upperclassmen overall. The team finished with a 19-16-4 overall record, a fifth-place finish in the regular-season CCHA standings, and an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Competing with the second-most difficult schedule in the country, the Spartans received the at-large NCAA berth, its first trip to the national tournament since 2008. Junior and two-time captain Torey Krug led the team with a standout individual effort, earning CCHA Player of the Year, Defensive Defenseman of the Year, and First Team All-CCHA honors. He was also a First Team All-America pick as well as one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. Krug opted to forego his senior season in Green and White, signing with the Boston Bruins and playing in a pair of regular-season games for the NHL club that spring.
With a young roster that featured 10 true freshmen in 2012-13, Anastos guided the Spartans to a 2-1 series win over Alaska on the road in the opening round of the CCHA Tournament. After splitting the first two games with the Nanooks, the Spartans clinched the series with a 4-3 win in game three. The Spartans ended the year by pushing the top-seeded Miami RedHawks to a decisive third game in the CCHA quarterfinals.
The Spartans' rebuilding effort continued in 2013-14 as another young team was guided by a group of seniors. The senior class accounted for nearly 40% of the team's scoring, led by Big Ten Medal of Honor winner Greg Wolfe.
The defensive-minded Spartans led the nation in blocked shots per game at 17.67 and ranked 20th nationally in goals allowed per game.
Despite his move from commissioner to head coach of a collegiate program, Anastos has continued his leadership within the sport as he was appointed as the Big Ten's representative to the NCAA Hockey Rules committee during his first season at the helm. In June 2012, he was selected as the group's chair. One of the major discussion points that the Anastos-led group has on its current agenda is research and gathering data in regards to NCAA athletes wearing a visor instead of the current full-facial protection worn by the players in college hockey. In addition, Anastos also serves as the Big Ten's representative on the Board of Directors of College Hockey, Inc., an organization that he was part of establishing in 2009, designed to help promote college hockey.
Recognized by The Hockey News in five of the past seven years on the list of the 100 most influential and powerful people in the sport (most recently No. 46 in 2011), Anastos has an unrivaled passion for the game and savvy blend of administrative, business and communication skills, a Who's Who list of connections, and has provided progressive vision and dynamic leadership for college hockey. He brings all of that to Michigan State to advance the on-ice success and stature in college hockey of his alma mater, where he will guide the Spartans into their 73rd varsity season.
Anastos, who was honored as MSU's "Distinguished Spartan" by the hockey program in 2004, both played and coached at his alma mater before stepping into an administrative role. He was a four-year letterwinner at Michigan State (1981-85) for former coach Ron Mason, and received his bachelor's degree in construction management in 1987. He was in the first class of Michigan State players to skate exclusively in the CCHA after MSU left the WCHA as he helped the Spartans to three Great Lakes Invitational titles, a regular-season CCHA Championship in 1985, and four consecutive CCHA Tournament titles. His Spartan teams made four NCAA Tournament appearances, finishing fourth in the country in 1984 and losing a heartbreaking quarterfinal series to Providence in 1985. As a senior, he earned second-team all-conference honors and was named to the all-tournament teams at the CCHA Tournament and Great Lakes Invitational. In his career, Anastos skated in 151 games, scored 70 goals and recorded 73 assists for 153 points, and amassed 102 penalty minutes. He still holds the MSU record for short-handed goals in a season (7, scored in 1983-84), and ranks in a tie for fourth in the MSU annals with 10 career short-handed markers.
Anastos, a 2000 inductee into his hometown Dearborn (Mich.) Sports Hall of Fame, played junior hockey for the Paddock Pools Saints of the NAHL and was the first player ever drafted from the league by an NHL team when the Montreal Canadiens selected him in 1981. The sixth-round pick of Montreal (124th overall) played one season in the Canadiens organization, then joined the coaching staff at the University of Michigan-Dearborn where he served as head coach of that program from 1987-90, compiling a 68-37-7 record.
In the fall of 1990, Anastos returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach under Ron Mason for two years. Those two teams went a combined 43-28-13, and in 1991-92, advanced to the Frozen Four.
In his role as CCHA commissioner, he has overseen the growth and changes in the membership over 13 years, and in April 2010, the CCHA played host to the record-breaking 2010 NCAA Men's Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit, the first Frozen Four to be held in a non-traditional hockey venue. A crowd of 34,954 watched the semifinal games and 37,592 attended the title game between Boston College and Wisconsin. The individual day attendance marks and the three-game total of 72,546 easily shattered the Frozen Four records, and the title-game attendance figure stands as the North American record for an indoor hockey game.
In concert with his role of CCHA commissioner, Anastos has served as the president of the Hockey Commissioner's Association (HCA), a group comprised of the five commissioners from NCAA Division I Hockey. The HCA addresses common issues and concerns at a national level, and the group's efforts include on-going discussions with the NHL's corporate office in New York, sponsorship of the annual Warrior Ice Breaker Tournament and the College Hockey All-Access radio show on NHL Home Ice.
In 2009, in his capacity as president of the HCA, he spearheaded a college hockey delegation which traveled to Florida to meet with the 30 general managers of NHL teams. The same year, he was key in the procuring of a grant from the National Hockey League through USA Hockey. The funding was used by the Anastos-led HCA to create College Hockey Inc., an educational and promotional entity charged with raising the profile and help foster the growth of college hockey. Now in its fifth year, College Hockey Inc. is under the direction of Executive Director Mike Snee.
Anastos' commitment to growing the sport has resulted in an annual statewide celebration known as "Hockey Day in Michigan" The grass roots initiative, which includes the live broadcast of two CCHA games on FOX Sports Detroit, has been successfully imitated by USA Hockey to encourage fans, players, coaches and officials to unite in their passion for their sport and help introduce others to the game.
Television also was a focal point for the CCHA under Anastos. The CCHA was the first hockey conference to sign television agreements with CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV), Toronto, Canada-based Leafs TV, and the NHL Network.
Prior to his appointment with the CCHA, Anastos served as president of the North American Hockey League, a Tier II junior league, for four seasons. During that time, the NAHL attracted strong ownership groups and developed into one of the top leagues for college-bound players in the United States.
Prior to his appointment at MSU, Anastos was very active in amateur hockey, both as a coach in the Detroit-based Honeybaked hockey program and as an administrator. He had been one of two NCAA representatives on USA Hockey's board of directors and was a long-time member of its International Council and Junior Council which oversaw the activities of the organization's international programs and US junior hockey.,p>
Anastos also served on the board of directors for One Goal, a non-profit organization comprised of hockey's North American industry leaders seeking to improve awareness and understanding of hockey, so parents can make informed decisions about involving their families in the game and he currently serves as a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Advisory Board.
Anastos, 51, and his wife Lisa have five children: daughters Lauren, Jenna, Alyssa, and Andie, and son Drew.