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Surf’s up with Sound Tigers’ Cronin

“This is an awesome challenge that I’m really looking forward to. I have a history with many of the young players who have played here, and my experience in the NHL has given me a broad vision of what it takes to get to the next level. I’m proud to have been a part of the turnaround of the Islanders, which includes a strong foundation here in Bridgeport and will hopefully culminate in championships at both levels.” — Greg Cronin when introduced as Sound Tigers head coach on June 9, 2003.

Greg Cronin is in his first season as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach, taking over for Steve Stirling, who was named the new head coach of the New York Islanders in June. While this is Greg’s first season behind the Bridgeport bench, and first as a professional head coach, the Boston native brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to Coastal Connecticut having worked in the Islanders’ organization since 1998 serving as an assistant coach focusing on opponent preparation, penalty killing and helping to coordinate and lead the big club’s off-season workouts. In fact, Greg still holds the position of director of player development for the Sound Tigers, National Hockey League affiliate.

“Greg has had a major impact on the development of so many of our young players,” says Islanders General Manager Mike Milbury. “He has definitely earned this opportunity to take over in Bridgeport. I’m certain he will continue Steve Stirling’s outstanding work with the Sound Tigers.”

A self-described fitness fanatic, “Cro” (as Greg is affectionately called by most people who know him well) takes great pride in the success of the Islanders’ conditioning program. The unique regimen features traditional and not-so-traditional workouts including one of the coach’s hobbies, boxing. The program has been profiled throughout the media, including The New York Times.

Greg’s dedication to physical fitness has also led him to one of his greatest passions. While jogging along the beaches of Long Island several years ago, he noticed surfers in the water and decided to give the sport a try and has been hooked ever since.

“It’s hard to describe,” says Greg. “It’s an adrenaline rush, but it’s also very peaceful being out on the ocean. I’m addicted to it!”

“It’s also one of the most challenging exercises,” continues the coach.

Greg has surfed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He even ventured into the waves off the coast of Maine last February during the AHL All-Star break when a winter storm produced huge swells that drew several avid surfers into the icy, near-freezing water. However, Greg will be busy during the AHL’s mid-season break this February.

Greg and Sound Tigers assistant coach Dave Baseggio will serve as the coaching staff for the PlanetUSA Team at the 2004 AHL All-Star Classic in Grand Rapids, Michigan on February 8th and 9th. He notched the All-Star coaching position when the Sound Tigers clinched the League’s highest winning percentage more than a week before the cutoff date. In addition to the coaching staff, the Sound Tigers will be represented in Grand Rapids by goaltender Wade Dubielewicz and defenseman Brandon Smith who will play for the Canadian Team, as well as forward Jeff Hamilton who was named to the PlanetUSA squad.

Greg first joined the Islanders in 1998 after a two-year stint as director of player development and head coach of the Under-18 National Team for USA Hockey. He was also an assistant coach for Team USA at two World Championships and two World Junior Championships; including the 1996-97 junior squad that won the silver medal in Switzerland, which was the highest finish in US history until this month’s gold-medal performance in Finland. Greg also led the Under-18 team to the 1998 North American Junior Hockey League Finals. While with USA Hockey, he worked with many future NHL players including Mark Parrish, Scott Gomez, Mike York and David Tanabe.

Prior to joining USA Hockey, Greg was an assistant coach under the legendary Shawn Walsh, whom he calls a great influence in his life, at the University of Maine from 1993 through 1996. He was an interim head coach from December 1995 through December 1996 winning his first seven games behind the bench and leading the Black Bears to a 27-12-2 record and a trip to the Hockey East Finals. At Maine, Greg coached such notable players as Paul Kariya, Keith Carney and Islanders goaltender Garth Snow. He also served as a graduate assistant coach at Maine from 1988 through 1990 while earning a Master’s in Business Administration.

From 1990 through 1993, Greg was as an assistant coach at Colorado College helping to build a Tigers’ program that advanced to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament for the first time in 1992 and has now reached the National Collegiate Athletic Association quarterfinals eight times.

Greg was as an assistant coach during the 1987-88 season at Colby College in Waterville, Maine where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History and American Studies in 1986. He was originally recruited to play both hockey and football for the White Mules. His older brother Donny was also a star athlete at Colby College playing both hockey and baseball. In addition, Greg’s father Donny was a three-year hockey letterman at Northeastern University and captained the Huskies as a senior in 1958-59.

Greg and his wife Carol reside in Scarborough, Maine during the off season.