By PHIL STACEY, Sports editor
The Salem News
---- — As far as Ted Hanley sees it, the ultimate success of the Salem High School hockey program has as much to do with the brains inside his player’s helmets as the sticks in their hands and the skates on their feet.
“We want to get the kids in a positive frame of mind, and the wins will come from there,” said Hanley, who was officially named the new head hockey coach at Salem High.
The 50-year-old Hanley takes over for Brian Addesa, who stepped down earlier in the spring after five seasons on the job. This will be the first head coaching job for Hanley, a former Matignon High and Bridgewater State player.
“Getting the program turned around, that’s the big thing,” said Hanley, who has previously worked as an assistant with Salem’s track program and also helped coach youth football in the Witch City. “We want to get the program in a positive light and have the kids thinking positively. I’m hoping we can do that and within three years be fighting for a (state) tournament bid.”
A special education teacher at the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, Hanley was chosen from 13 applicants for the job. Eight were interviewed by a 4-person selection committee, and Hanley was ultimately chosen over the other finalist, former Salem High hockey player Dan Libby (who will become Hanley’s head assistant coach).
Hanley spent 20 years in the Marine Corps before going back to school and getting his degree in elementary education at Salem State. He got to know Salem High athletic director Scott Connolly through his work with the youth football programs in town.
“Ted’s involvement in the youth programs and with the kids of Salem is huge,” said Connolly. “When he mentioned this in his interview, I had already seen him do it firsthand. And he’s enthusiastic about working with our youth hockey kids, too; to me, having the varsity coach come in and work hand-in-hand with the younger kids and coaches will really help.”
Salem, a co-operative hockey program which draws players from Hamilton and Wenham as well as the host city, has traditionally struggled on the ice.
The Witches have only qualified for postseason play five times in their almost 70-year history, all coming between the years 2002-07 under former head coach Kristian Hanson.
Last season, Salem finished 1-18, with its lone victory coming against Northeast Regional three days after Christmas. The Witches scored just 31 goals in those 19 games while allowing 95.
Using his own experiences as a player (which dates back to Medford Youth Hockey) as well as his military background, Hanley feels the key to changing the culture is changing the players’ attitudes.
“Discipline and fitness will be two key areas we’ll address right off the bat,” said the Everett resident. “We want to get them in a positive frame of mind, help make them better kids and better in the community. The wins will come as soon as we get the attitude and atmosphere in a positive direction.
“I believe you have to get a feeder system and get the youth programs working, too. I’m going to be really dedicated to that.”
Connolly said that he and Hanley both agree that keeping the best young players in Salem from leaving the city to play elsewhere is another critical component to the Witches’ success. So, too, is being actively involved with the players and parents from neighboring Hamilton and Wenham.
“Ted’s got a really good play to keep everyone together with the three communities all working towards the same goal (as a program),” Connolly said. “Hamilton-Wenham is a huge part of our program, and Ted is well aware of that.”
“A few wins under their belts can really change things,” Hanley added. “If we can get a few wins this coming season, then get a few more wins the next year and by year three, get up to that 10-12 wins mark, we’ll definitely be moving in the right direction.”