The Michigan hockey team has brought former Wolverine defenseman Matt Hunwick on staff as a volunteer assistant coach, the team announced Friday afternoon.
Hunwick played four years at Michigan from 2003 to 2007, and he served as an alternate captain his junior year and was captain of the Wolverines in his senior year. In 163 games for Michigan, Hunwick tallied 97 total points and finished his career with an overall plus-68 plus-minus rating.
After leaving Ann Arbor, Hunwick joined the Boston Bruins, the team that had drafted him No. 224 overall in 2004. He spent the next three seasons in Boston before getting traded to the Colorado Avalanche midway through the 2010-11 campaign.
A one-year stint with the New York Rangers followed his tenure with the Avalanche, and Hunwick was then traded from New York to Toronto, where he spent two years as an alternate captain. From Toronto, Hunwick was traded to Pittsburgh, and after a year in Pittsburgh, he was on the move again, this time to Buffalo.
But Hunwick appeared in just 14 games in the 2018-19 season with the Sabres and played in two more with the Sabres’ AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans. A lingering neck injury shortened his season and began to threaten his career.
In August, the Sabres announced that Hunwick would miss the entirety of the 2019-20 season while he works to recover from the neck injury. That’s where Michigan comes into the picture.
When former assistant Brian Wiseman departed for the NHL, Michigan coach Mel Pearson took a fresh look at his coaching staff. He hired Kris Mayotte from Providence to run the penalty kill and coach goaltenders, and Pearson then realized that his staff was lacking a defenseman. Pearson and associate head coach Bill Muckalt both played forward, and Mayotte was a goaltender.
So, when Pearson went looking for someone with NHL experience to become a new volunteer assistant, Hunwick fit the bill perfectly.
“We’re looking for someone who’s had a career or an opportunity to get someone who’s played defense,” Pearson said on Sept. 9. “Who’s a defenseman who’s played the game, because we haven’t had that for a while either on staff. It’ll be nice to get someone who has actually played the position. … That’s what we have added. It’s gonna really, really be a big benefit to our program. I think when everybody sees the name, they’ll go, ‘Wow, that’s a great addition,’ just like Kris was to our staff.”