The Michigan State Spartans mens hockey team was in need of a new coach after Tom Anastos stepped down last month after six seasons. Earlier today, they filled that vacancy with an old friend.

Danton Cole, 50, was officially hired as head coach. He has a history with the Spartans, playing for four years from 1985 to 1989. Cole helped Michigan State win the national title as a freshman and was team captain during his senior year. During his junior year, he was second overall on the team in scoring.

“We’re looking forward to having Danton Cole back with us at Michigan State,” Lou Anna K. Simon said after the hiring was made official. “He brings a championship pedigree and a heart for working with student athletes. He’s going to develop well-rounded young men who will achieve greatness both on and off the ice—people who will be terrific representatives of Spartan hockey and Michigan State University.”

MSU’s athletics director Mark Hollis echoed Simon’s sentiments.

“Danton once told me that being the head coach at Michigan State was his dream job,” he explained. “But what really impressed me was when he volunteered to assist me in doing whatever it took to help Spartan hockey be successful – even if it meant finding someone else to coach. I was struck by his willingness to put the program above himself. That selfless nature and devotion to Spartan hockey will serve Danton well as he guides the Spartans for years to come.”

Returning Spartans hockey to its former glory is the top priority for Cole.

“Let’s put a system in place here of excellence, put a system in place that the guys have the opportunity to excel, have a system in place that we’re always moving forward,” Cole said. “And if there’s a little bump, it doesn’t matter. You look past that. It’s going forward. And that’s culture. That’s program.”

“We want to start winning Big Ten playoff rounds, we want to start winning Big Ten championships. And you get in the NCAA, you’re four wins away.”

Cole would play five seasons in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Blackhawks, and New York Islanders. He has his name on the Stanley Cup as part of the Devils 1995 championship team that defeated the Detroit Red Wings in a sweep.

Cole has been a head coach with the National Team Development Program since 2013, and with USA Hockey since 2010. After serving as an assistant coach with Bowling Green, he spent three seasons at Alabama-Huntsville before joining the NTDP. He was also an assistant and head coach in the minor leagues and the USHL, in addition to being an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He also helped guide Team USA to two gold medals and one bronze at the International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s Under-18 World Championship.