Matt Walsh named Wisconsin hockey assistant coach

Walsh will be back with the Badgers to coach talented defensemen like Jake McCabe. - Larry Radloff Photography

The interim tag has been lifted, as Mike Eaves announced the full-time hiring of assistant coach Matt Walsh on Thursday.

Stepping into a coaching job in the middle of a season isn't easy when the team is good. Doing it when the team is off to a 1-4-1 start with a perfect storm of distractions can be a recipe for disaster. To the credit of Matt Walsh, the former Badgers defensman made a seamless transition to the Wisconsin coaching staff.

For his tremendous efforts over the the course of the season, Walsh was hired on as a full time assistant, Mike Eaves announced Thursday.

"I think having Matt with us since November, we were able to see first-hand how he interacts with college students and the work that he does on the ice," Eaves said. "It became clear as time went on, that he was very capable of doing the job here.

"We also got to know him as a man, we got to know his family and it all matches up really well.

"We went through due diligence in the process," explained Eaves. "We had many people apply. I talked to a handful of people who I thought might be serious candidates and chatted with them, but in the end it all came back to Matt and what he did for us this year."

A member of Wisconsin's 1983 NCAA championship team as a freshman defenseman, Walsh played for the Badgers from 1982-86, winning the WHA-TV Jim Santulli 7th-Man Award his senior season. A Madison, Wis., native, Walsh currently resides in Janesville.

"Hockey has been a passion of mine for a long, long time and now I get to continue to help the program like I felt I did throughout the course of the year," Walsh said in a statement. "I think going forward, the details I can work on with the players, especially the defenseman, and building on the relationships we've built to get what we need done will help make the players successful, the team successful and the program successful."

The position opened up when former UW assistant coach Bill Butters left the team abruptly on November 7. At the time, Butters cited his passion for ministry as the reason he felt it was necessary to leave in the middle of the season.

"I think I was making an impact, but not as much as needed to be," Butters said. "We have a young defensive core, and they just need a guy who is going to get them better, quicker.

"In the long run, my passion is telling my faith story."

Wisconsin opened up the search for an interim replacement immediately, and found its man in Walsh.

Coach-in-Chief for USA Hockey's Central District since 1995, Walsh has been responsible for coordinating seminars for USA Hockey's Coaching Education Program over a six-state area. In 2003, Walsh represented USA Hockey's Coaching Education Program at an IIHF World Development Camp, where he presented to coaches from around the world.

Throughout his time with USA Hockey, he has served as an evaluator for various USA Hockey Select 15, 16 and 17 teams. He also co-coached Select 15 and 16 district teams.

Head coach of Team Wisconsin from 1991-96 and in 1998 and 1999, Walsh was also an assistant coach for the team from 1988 to 1990. The team is made up of the top 20 seniors from Wisconsin. From 1994-96, Walsh was head coach of the Stoughton High School squad.

"Wisconsin hockey is something I've been a part of since going to hockey games when I was eight years old," Walsh said. "Now to actually come full circle as a coach here and try to improve the program and make it the best in the nation -- that is the goal."

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