Ceglarski Was More Than A Hockey Coach
Good coaches have the ability to extract talent hidden deep within their players. Great coaches also have the gift to forge a lasting impression on the lives of their players.
Len Ceglarski was a great coach. His illustrious career as head coach of the Clarkson College Golden Knights and the Boston College Eagles is well documented in the college hockey history books.
From 1958 to 1972, Ceglarski led the Golden Knights to three Frozen Fours, the first in 1962 where they defeated Michigan before falling to Michigan Tech in the title game. Clarkson finished its season 22-3-1, and Ceglarski was propelled to stardom.
In 1966, Ceglarski led the Knights to an ECAC championship and another appearance in the Frozen Four. Despite a heart-breaking loss to Michigan State, Ceglarski was recognized as National Coach of the Year and was awarded his first of three Spencer Penrose Trophies.
Ceglarski’s stint at Clarkson ended in 1972 when long-time Boston College coach Snooks Kelley retired, opening the door for Ceglarski to return to his alma mater.
He ended his coaching career in Boston in 1992 after leading the Eagles to more than 400 victories in 20 years. At the time, he had led his teams to the most wins in NCAA history with 673, a mark that still keeps him in the Top 10 all-time.
With only four losing seasons during his 34-year career, Ceglarski earned numerous awards, and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
But his players saw more than a man with a Hall of Fame resume. To them, Ceglarski was someone who instilled in them a winning attitude that carried them to great heights away from the rink.
John McLennan, one of Ceglarski’s former players, left Clarkson College and became president and chief executive officer of Bell Canada. He credits Ceglarski for the success he achieved in life and returned the favor to his former coach by donating $1.5 million to the Leonard S. Ceglarski Chair at Clarkson to help fund the head coaching position.
A Cold War Bet Better Served Cold
After the U.S. Olympic Team beat the Soviet Union, 3-2, to win the gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., Soviet coach Anatoli Tarasov entered the American dressing room and kissed U.S. coach Jack Riley on the cheek, and Soviet interpreter Roman Kesserlov gave Bill Cleary a bottle of vodka to pay off a bet they had made. The unopened bottle still sits in Cleary’s Massachusetts home as a memento of the triumph.
Almost 20 years later, Cleary would entertain Tarasov at his home in the spring of 1979, and Tarasov had brought along a bottle of vodka. Before he left, he threw the bottle in the bushes and told Cleary not to retrieve it until an American hockey player won another Olympic gold medal.
Less than a year later, Tarasov would be proven wrong as the U.S. again shocked the Russians in Lake Placid.
Excerpt of Kevin Allen’s 1997 book, “USA Hockey: A Celebration of a Great Tradition.”
Where Are They now?
1980 U.S. Olympic Team
The Minneapolis native enjoyed success at every level of the game.
During his one and only season at the University of Minnesota, Ramsey helped lead the Gophers to a national championship. He then went on to play a pivotal role with Herb Brooks’ blueline crew on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team.
A first-round draft choice of the Buffalo Sabres in 1979, Ramsey played 14 seasons in Buffalo before making stops in Pittsburgh and Detroit, where he won the Cup in 1995.
He also played in four NHL All-Star Games (1982, 1983, 1985, 1986) and Rendez-Vous ’87.
The 47-year-old Ramsey is now in his ninth year as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Wild where he makes it his mission to teach younger players the finer points of playing in the NHL.
He and his wife, Jill, have three children and reside in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
photos - Boston College, USA Hockey