Greg Brown saw a lot of familiar faces when he was formally introduced Monday as the next Boston College men’s hockey coach.
It’s been a homecoming for Brown, 54, who played for the Eagles from 1986-90 and served on the coaching staff from 2004-18.
Among those in attendance was Jim Logue, the former Eagles goalie who spent the last 20 years of his 44-year coaching career serving as an assistant at BC before retiring in 2013. John Hegarty, the director of hockey operations who has been with the program since 1994, sat off to the side. Former teammate Mike Mullowney, who took Brown on his recruiting visit in 1986, sat toward the back of the room. Women’s head hockey coach Katie Crowley and associate head coach Courtney Kennedy also were there to welcome Brown back.
And seated in the front row was the man he was replacing, Jerry York, who hired Brown as an assistant coach in 2004 before promoting him to associate head coach in 2012. York announced his retirement last month after 50 years of coaching, the last 28 at BC.
“There’s no place I’d rather be than right here,” said Brown. “I’m so excited to be back at Boston College. I see some familiar faces. It’s incredible. I’m really overwhelmed.”
Brown left the program in 2018 when David Quinn left Boston University to coach the New York Rangers and asked Brown to join his staff. Brown served as an assistant coach for three years before the staff was fired after the 2020-21 season. Nevertheless, Brown was grateful for the experience.
“I know it’s hard to thank a BU guy on this campus,” Brown said, drawing a laugh, “but the opportunity he gave me to go work with the New York Rangers and learn under him, I’ll take what I learned with Dave and use [it] at BC.”
Brown spent last season as coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, his only experience as a head coach. He noted the difference from being an assistant, and how that one season helped prepare him for his return to BC.
“Certainly you talk a lot more, that’s one thing I had to get used to,” said the soft-spoken Brown. “But also just the fact that you’re running the ship is different. As an assistant, you’re more individual, you’re more helping guys in small little areas, where as the head coach, you’re using broader strokes.”
While he’s been away from the college game for only four years, much has changed, with name, image, and likeness taking over college sports, as well as the transfer portal, for which Brown said he would count on the coaching staff to get him up to speed. He confirmed that associated head coaches Mike Ayers and Brendan Buckley, as well as assistant coach Brooks Orpik, would be retained.
“I worked with Mike for four years,” said Brown. “I know Brendan, I haven’t worked with him, and of course I’ve known Brooks for a long time as well, so I’m very familiar with all three, and it will be great to get started with them.”
Brown alluded to York throughout the press conference, praising the “culture of joy and positivity” that he brought every day, and thanked the Hall of Famer for bringing him back to campus in 2004.
“The incredible positivity he has,” said Brown. “Some coaches can have their players nervous or afraid to make mistakes. Under Coach York, the players were eager to go over the bench and to make the difference.
“I think that’s such an important part. It plays into the huge boost of confidence when you know your coach believes in you, so I will definitely try and emulate that.”
When he announced his retirement, York said he thought it might be best if he stayed away from the program at first while the new coach got a handle on things. York had chatted with Brown and his wife, Katharine, before the proceedings, but he and his wife Bobbie slipped out shortly after the conclusion of the press conference, in part to leave the spotlight on Brown but also to get ready to hit the links in Florida.
Many of the players for next year’s team were in attendance, including captain Marshall Warren.
“I’m so fired up. I’ve known Coach Brown for a while,” said the defenseman, who will be a senior next season. “He’s a great person and a good leader. He’s ready to take the program following in Coach York’s footsteps of bringing in a good culture.”
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.