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Chaput takes over Rice hockey program after seven years as assistant

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 16, 2016

 Kenny Chaput

Kenny Chaput

Photo provided by Visual Sports Network


BIRMINGHAM — He’s set to inherit one of the most successful high school hockey programs in the state of Michigan.

The simple challenge now for Kenny Chaput is to keep that fact accurate for years to come.

“I wouldn’t say there are nerves, but this is an exciting step,” Chaput said last week about becoming head coach of the Birmingham Brother Rice hockey team. “I’m glad I had the backing and support I did. For the school to trust me with this program meant a lot. This is a program with a lot of very good people. We have a well-running machine where I don’t have to come in and make drastic changes. Hopefully, people don’t see a whole ton of different things.”

Chaput takes over for Lou Schmidt Jr., who decided shortly after the 2016 playoffs ended in the Division 2 quarterfinals that it was time to step aside.

Schmidt did so with a 236-107-19 career record and three state titles in 13 years.

Chaput, 50, had served as Schmidt’s assistant each of the past seven seasons and was hardly surprised when his predecessor retired.”

“Over the past few years, while Lou hadn’t come out and say it, he’d dropped some hints that this day was coming,” Chaput, a Southfield native and Wixom resident, said. “He’d given me more responsibilities, put me in charge of more aspects of the team.

Chaput said he became more involved in running practice, taking over the special-teams units and working out schedules, for example.

“It’s been an apprenticeship for a few a years,” he said. “Lou was still calling the shots, but he was more the CEO and delegator. He allowed me to learn a lot of the things I needed to while staying very involved. He allowed me to grow into this role. I feel ready. When Lou told me his plans as the season wound down, and told me he was behind me taking over, I think that really helped when he went to the school with that idea.”

Chaput still had to interview for the position, but he had the endorsement of Schmidt from the beginning.

“We are extremely pleased to have Kenny leading our program at Brother Rice,” Jeff Calcaterra, Brother Rice athletic director, said in an April 29 press release. “His vast coaching and playing experience throughout the hockey community will greatly benefit our players and our program. His coaching success throughout his career is due to his attention to detail, work ethic and great knowledge of the game. Kenny’s communication skills and ability to develop our young men make him a perfect fit for our family here at Brother Rice.”

Chaput grew up in Southfield, earning All-State honors in hockey twice while playing at Southfield High.

After graduating in 1984, he played at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

His coaching career began in 1997 with local travel teams.

He’s also spent time coaching AAA hockey, as well as teams in the Compuware and Victory Honda youth hockey associations.

With Rice, he was part of the state championship teams in 2012 and 2015.

“Kenny’s going to do (a) great job,” Schmidt said. “We have a big chunk of the team coming back, and rather than waiting to win again and then step aside, I felt right turning this team over to a guy like Kenny. He has a lot of fire in his belly. He’s been involved in every aspect of what we did as a team.”

Chaput said he understands the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach.

“As far as tactics go, I don’t know that things will be all that different,” he said. “Maybe I’m a little more outwardly passionate than Lou was, but other than that, there’s not a lot that’s going to be different.”

Including expectations.

“I’m at a program where the goal going into every year is to win a state championship,” Chaput added. “Most years, we have the talent level to compete. We’re going to continue with that same approach.”