Tom Newton is one of the most experienced assistant coaches in college hockey. Newton started out as a student-athlete at Bowling Green
from 1975-80, where he played for then-BGSU head coach Ron Mason. A four-time letter winner and two-time captain, Newton racked up 140 points as a Falcon
before he decided to become a coach in. The Ontario native had nine seasons of coaching experience on his resume when he was hired by Michigan State in 1990.


Newton has remained in East Lansing since then, becoming the longest tenured assistant coach (at one school) in the college game today. Over the past twenty-two years, he has coached many Spartan-NHLers such as Justin Abdelkader, Duncan Keith and John-Michael Liles. The long-time coach recently took time to talk to the media about the move to the Big Ten, recruiting and the three MSU coaches he has served under. Newton’s thoughts are summarized below.


  • A topic of discussion surrounding Michigan State hockey has been the
    upcoming transition from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA)
    to the Big Ten. Newton has a long history with the old league: “I’ve been
    in the CCHA for basically five years as a player, a year as a graduate
    assistant, and thirty-one years as a coach. That’s a long time.” Newton
    has fond memories of the conference, and notes that some tradition will be
    lost. “I guess we gave up a little bit of tradition. The rivalries outside
    of the Big Ten [will be over]…There won’t be an automatic qualifier on the
    line…that type of thing.” But the MSU assistant coach thinks that it’s
    time to move on. “Part of me will say, ‘It’s too bad this is coming to an
    end,’ but I’m not so sure it’s not time to move forward. College hockey
    needs that push and I think the Big Ten can give it.”


  • Newton believes that the Big Ten will be good for both Michigan State and college
    hockey itself. “I think it’s going to take college hockey to a whole
    ‘nother level because I think that the Big Ten does some things at a level
    other conferences don’t. I think that hockey is going to become very
    important to the Big Ten.” He also commented on another advantage the Big
    Ten has over the CCHA: “As a single sport conference, the CCHA had a hard
    time moving legislation to the NCAA. The Big Ten doesn’t have that issue.”


  • The move to the Big Ten will open up some previously unexplored areas, such as
    Wisconsin and Minnesota, Newton believes: “I’m already getting more warm
    fuzzies in Minnesota than I have gotten in thirty years previously.” He
    explained the reasons for the sudden interest of recruits in Michigan
    State: “We’re getting kids who want to play in the Big Ten, and that’s a
    healthy thing. They can’t all go to the same schools, and I think they’re
    starting to realize that. I think it’s going to spread our ability to get
    players from those areas.”


  • Tom Anastos is the third coach Newton has served under. The two before
    Anastos, Ron Mason (head coach from 1979-2002) and Rick Comley (coach from
    2002-2011), taught Newton a lot. “From Ron, it was the value of teaching
    individuals. Always have your team organized: Ron was a great organizer of
    his team. From Rick, it was that you have to establish a style of play and
    stick with it.”


  • From Anastos, the third and latest coach he’s worked for, Newton learned to
    make the game simple. “From Tom, it was to make the game as enjoyable, as
    comprehendable to the player as possible: don’t try to turn it into rocket
    science,” the assistant coach explained. “Tom really went out of his way
    to communicate and teach the guys at a level that they could understand and
    they could handle.”


  • Going into last season, many had questions about Anastos and the program itself.
    The ones asking the questions didn’t know Anastos like Newton, who was
    sure that Anastos would be perfect for Michigan State. “I had a great
    advantage because I knew the man….I knew what he would bring to the table
    as far as a leader, as far as an organizer,” the veteran coach said. “I
    knew he was a good coach because I coached him. I knew he understood the
    game and had good teaching abilities.”


  • Newton played a significant role in Anastos’s transition. Newton
    was especially valuable in helping the new coach adjust to the recruiting
    scene and to the players’ psyche. “I think [my] knowledge of the
    recruiting process, and how it’s going on at this time was helpful. The
    dealing with players at this age, and what they’re looking for, their
    tendencies throughout the season, and how they view things, I think I
    brought a lot of that experience. It was a transition for me that was
    really enjoyable.”
Joe Ginley is the newest writer for the Spartan Nation website and magazine. He writes Spartans in the NFL and State of the Spartans among other articles. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Joe brings a great passion for sports and a great flexibility in writing skills.

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