Former Aspen hockey coach bound for Houston
August 7, 2009
ASPEN – Mark LeRose’s circuitous hockey coaching career has taken him to places like South Dakota, Wisconsin, Washington and Aspen.
Now, the Aspen resident and native of Western Canada is heading to Texas. LeRose has been named assistant coach of the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, an affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, the team announced Tuesday.
The 39-year-old held the same post with the Everett (Wash.) Silvertips, a Junior Major A team, the last two years.
“I’ve taken kind of a strange path – up, down and every which way,” said LeRose, a former junior hockey and high school coach in the valley. “Just like every athlete who wants to move up the ladder, it goes the same way for coaches. I’m trying to keep improving and keep working my way up.”
LeRose joins a staff with a few familiar faces. He, Aeros head coach Kevin Constantine and general manager and assistant coach Troy Ward worked for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1999-2000 season; LeRose served as a coaching assistant.
LeRose and Ward also coached together at the University of Wisconsin.
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“I’ve known Kevin since the mid-80s. He’s very detail-oriented,” LeRose said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of coaching … and working with high-caliber athletes trying to reach the highest level.”
LeRose came to Aspen in 1993 to take the coaching director’s job at Aspen Junior Hockey. He led the Aspen Leafs to midget AA state titles in 1998 and 1999 before leaving to work with the Penguins.
In 2001, he took over the Aspen High squad and guided the Skiers to consecutive state semifinal appearances. After stints as an assistant bench coach at the University of Wisconsin and assistant coach with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League, he came back to lead the Skiers in 2005 and 2006.
LeRose then worked as a hockey operations consultant for Next Testing and developed testing protocol for the NHL combine. In 2007, he moved to the Pacific Northwest to coach in the Western Hockey League, which has produced scores of elite players, among them recently retired Avalanche captain Joe Sakic.
The Silvertips made the playoffs in each of LeRose’s two seasons in Everett.
“Everett is a great organization, and they run the team very professionally,” LeRose said. “I love the Western Hockey League. It’s a pure hockey league. I could’ve coached my whole life [there].
“The opportunity to move to the [AHL] doesn’t happen every day, though. I couldn’t say no.”
With the full support of his wife, Brooke Newman, who lives year-round in Aspen, LeRose decided to seize the opportunity.
While he doesn’t know where hockey will take him in the coming years, LeRose is dreaming big.
“My goal is like any other player’s or coach’s: To be coaching in the National Hockey League and chasing Lord Stanley’s Cup,” he said. “That’s my ultimate goal. I’m not shy to say it.”
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