Two of the North Shore's varsity high school hockey coaches have decided to step down from their posts — in large part to spend more time with their own young families.
Bill Blackwell, who has guided the Masconomet Chieftains for the past seven years, and Brian Addesa, who has coached at Salem High for the last five seasons, both indicated last night that they won't be back behind their respective benches next winter.
"It was a really, really tough decision. I went back and forth with my wife on it," said the 42-year-old Blackwell, whose teams compiled a combined 84-52-12 record during his seven seasons, making the state tournament five straight years between 2007-11.
"But this winter it hit me a lot that I was missing a lot of my kids' events. My daughter (Kelly) is a freshman in high school who plays three sports, and my two boys (12-year-old Brett and 9-year-old Drew) both play hockey. I was missing helping them with homework, too."
Blackwell led Masconomet to a Cape Ann League title in 2007 (they finished 16-4-3) and to a co-championship in 2009 (11-3-2 league, 14-5-2 overall). His 2007 squad, led by then-sophomore (and current New York Rangers rookie sensation) Chris Kreider, won two playoff games before bowing to Andover in the Division 2 North semifinals.
"I'm sure going to miss it," said Blackwell, who plans to coach his son Brett's Bantam team this coming season. "If you're a competitor, you like to compete and in the Cape Ann League, the competition was great. Anyone could beat anyone else on almost every night.
"Plus, we had some great, great kids during my time there. The Keaton Cashin's, the Pat Crosby's, the Kreider's ... it goes on and on. You don't run into kids that have that high quality as people all the time. Kids like that made it tough to step down."