Walt Kyle, who enters his 12th season in 2013-14, was named the second head hockey coach in Northern Michigan University history on June 13, 2002. Kyle has led the Wildcats to six 20-wins seasons and is 208-186-49 at NMU.
Kyle won his 200th career game on Jan. 4, 2012 with a 6-2 victory at St. Cloud State. He guided the ’Cats to the NCAA Tournament during the 2009-10 season and to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Championship Tournament at Joe Louis Arena seven times. He was the head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team, which placed fourth at the 2006 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in British Columbia, Canada.
The ‘Cats lost in the CCHA Tournament Champion and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10. NMU finished 20-13-8 and 13-9-6-3 in the conference. NMU has won the third-place game at the CCHA Championship three times (02-03, 07-08, 08-09) under coach Kyle. NMU has three-22 win seasons (02-03, 04-05, 05-06), a 21-win season (03-04) and two 20-win seasons (07-08, 09-10) in the Walt Kyle era.
Prior to his NMU return, Kyle was an assistant coach with the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers for two years under coach Ron Lowe. Glen Sather, the Rangers general manager who was the previous GM in Edmonton, brought Kyle to New York. Kyle was the coach of the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs, the Oilers’ top affiliate club. Kyle’s other NHL experience came with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim under Ron Wilson. He has coached NHL stars such as Mark Messier, Eric Lindros, Brian Leetch, Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne.
His other professional coaching positions were with the AHL’s Baltimore Bandits, the International Hockey League’s San Diego Gulls and the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds (1992-94).
Kyle was a two-time NMU letterman after transferring from Boston College. He captained the 1980 and ’81 Wildcat squads that advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four. Kyle appeared in 85 games for the ’Cats and scored 31 goals and had 59 assists for 90 points. He became the first person in NCAA hockey history to score a goal in two tournaments for two separate teams. Following graduation, he became a graduate assistant coach under Rick Comley and was promoted to assistant coach in 1982, a position he held until 1992. Kyle was the program’s top assistant in 1991 when Northern won the NCAA Division I national title.
Kyle graduated from NMU in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He also attended graduate school at Northern, where he studied exercise physiology.
An active participant in USA Hockey, Kyle was an assistant coach under Lou Vairo in 2001 for Team USA, which finished fourth at the World Championships in Germany, and under Wilson for the 1994 squad that competed in Milan, Italy. He also was a coach with the 1992 and ’93 U.S. Junior National Teams, the former which won the bronze medal – the highest finish ever by an American squad under the old format, and one of only three U.S. teams to medal at the World Championships at the time. He was the assistant coach of the national junior squad under Kevin Constantine in 1991. Kyle was named to the USA Hockey’s International Council in June 2002.
Kyle and his wife, Ann, have four children: two daughters, Erin and Quinn; and t wo sons, Evan and Walt.
Career Record: 208-186-49
Record at NMU: 208-186-49
CCHA Record: 136-135-37