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owslachief
01-11-2010, 02:04 PM
Amo Bessone, 'Father of Spartan Hockey' Passes Away

Bessone held longest term of any Michigan State hockey coach

Monday, Jan. 11, 2010

East Lansing, Mich. - Amo Bessone, who spent 28 years as the head coach of the Michigan State hockey and guided the Spartans to the 1966 NCAA title, has passed away in New Mexico. Bessone was 93.

"I'm saddened by Amo's passing for sure, but I was thrilled to know him as a young coach and continue that relationship as I joined the Michigan State program," noted Michigan State head coach Rick Comley. "Amo is part of that group of coaches who made NCAA hockey what it is today ... he, Murray Armstrong, John MacInnes, John Mariucci. He also impacted the Michigan State program in so many ways, not the least of which is a commitment to being involved in the community, which continues today. He is a legend, and he will be missed."

"We are saddened by the loss of a true Spartan," commented Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis. "Amo Bessone was a part of the fabric not only of the Michigan State athletics program, but also the surrounding community. He was dedicated to our athletes as well as growing the sport he loved so much. His influence on the game of college hockey and on the Michigan State hockey program is one we cherish, and will continue to honor."

Puck Swami
01-11-2010, 02:12 PM
Farewell, Amo.

His 1966 NCAA title really put the Spartans on the map, and built the foundation for the Ron Mason years that brought MSU hockey into further prominence.

Rick Comley's quote says pretty much what I was thinking before I even saw the article.

"Amo is part of that group of coaches who made NCAA hockey what it is today ... he, Murray Armstrong, John MacInnes, John Mariucci."

Of that group that helped to define western hockey after the 1950s, Only Murray Armstrong remains alive now, at age 94 in Florida.

Ralph Baer
01-11-2010, 02:25 PM
Sorry to hear that too.

"Amo is part of that group of coaches who made NCAA hockey what it is today ... he, Murray Armstrong, John MacInnes, John Mariucci." Some western bias by Comley in that statement, not to include Ned Harkness, Snooks Kelley, and a couple of others also.

AncientOne
01-11-2010, 02:37 PM
noted Michigan State head coach Rick Comley. "Amo is part of that group of coaches who made NCAA hockey what it is today ... he, Murray Armstrong, John MacInnes, John Mariucci.
Saddened to read about the loss of Amo. That group along with the Michigan, CC and UND coaches founded the WCHA in 1959.

He was quite a character. Watched him in action when I was a student at Mich Tech. He was usually chomping on a cigar!

When someone asked about his approach to a power play, he said "I put the 5 best players on the ice and tell them to go get a goal."!

alfablue
01-11-2010, 02:40 PM
Very sad. He was my dad's gym coach at Tech in the early 50's. And he was able to meet with him at the FF in St. Louis.

I'm sure my dad sends great condolances, too....

Jeff_Jackson_for_Pres.
01-11-2010, 02:47 PM
My first college game was 33 years ago almost exactly to the day in the infantile Munn Arena with Amo Bessone coaching the Spartans. I later got Tom Ross' stick. Those 2 names are the first 2 names I think of when I think about my love affair with college hockey. Condolences.

Puck Swami
01-11-2010, 02:50 PM
College hockey is almost always viewed through a regional lens, especially by those who remember it before the days of the internet and satellite TV, when recruiting was regional and seeing teams from the opposite region was rare.

I think Comley was looking at those western coaches who brought college hockey into greater prominence as a sport by recruiting from wider regions, playing in larger venues and playing longer schedules, which were things that a lot of eastern coaches in that era didn't favor, but set the stage for greater growth of the sport after all those guys retired.

The greatest turning point in the development of college hockey was the interlocking schedule of Hockey East and the WCHA in 1980s, which fed the nationaliztion of styles and coaching practices, and fostered the need for USA hockey's national summer development camps and programs, which made recruiting easier and the player pool more homogenous. None of that later development would have been possible without the foundational work of those coaches, like Bessone, who wanted to create a more national sport.

skiumah2
01-11-2010, 02:58 PM
I too would like to extend my condolences on the passing of one of college hockey's all time legends. Amo Bessone was truly one of the best ever.

MadCityRich
01-11-2010, 02:58 PM
R.I.P. Amo. :( .

As a kid, I remember the Badger fans razzing Amo (even back then we were relentless.) AAAAAAMO! AAAAAAAAAMO! Just imagine 8662 Coliseum fans howling this. It sounded like a fog horn.

Didn't he used to chirp like a bird when he wanted a line change? I think it was him; could be wrong. As soon as he whistled, the entire Coliseum would break out in whistling.

Amo was one of my earliest memories of Wisconsin hockey foes. At 93 I'm sure he led a great life.

owslachief
01-11-2010, 03:03 PM
R.I.P. Amo. :( .

As a kid, I remember the Badger fans razzing Amo (even back then we were relentless.) AAAAAAMO! AAAAAAAAAMO! Just imagine 8662 Coliseum fans howling this. It sounded like a fog horn.

Didn't he used to chirp like a bird when he wanted a line change? I think it was him; could be wrong. As soon as he whistled, the entire Coliseum would break out in whistling.

Amo was one of my earliest memories of Wisconsin hockey foes. At 93 I'm sure he led a great life.

Didn't he use an actual whistle for a line change? Someone pls. confirm this :confused:

du78
01-11-2010, 04:42 PM
R.I.P. Amo

Of the four western coaches named by Comley, Mariucci is the only one I never met or saw coach. The other three were all characters and obviously being at DU I knew Murray the best. Everyone of them would talk your ear off given the chance. It was a ton of fun watching them coach as they were all like generals leading their troops. It was there way or the highway. A few players rode the pine occasionally for not doing what the coach wanted. These guys, along with the eastern coaches, formed the great game we have today. Except for the NCAA tourney, the WCHA players never faced the eastern teams and knew little about them until the semis and finals. You could only go by the press that was written about those teams because there was no tape of them and no one scouted them beforehand. Only one remaining from the founding fathers of the WCHA.

Puck Swami
01-11-2010, 05:07 PM
Didn't he use an actual whistle for a line change? Someone pls. confirm this :confused:

Yes, but not during game play, only at stoppages. Many opposing fans would whistle back.

aallenpollreisz
01-11-2010, 05:41 PM
Sad, sad news to hear that the "Father of Spartan Hockey" is no longer with us.

RIP, Amo.

Third Family Member
01-11-2010, 05:43 PM
Didn't he use an actual whistle for a line change? Someone pls. confirm this :confused:

No, he just whistled through his teeth.

JJfP talked about her first foray into hockey coming in the brand new Munn Ice Arena, when Amo was still the coach. I took her to the game, and dumped her with a couple of my friends to babysit her, because Amo Bessone was the first college hockey coach to recognize that a girl could be just as fascinated with the game as anyone. He had advertised for an assistant manager for the team and when I showed up, he and then assistant coach Alex Terpay blinked a couple times, and then said okay. No matter what, he always had time to break down a play for me, always asked me if I wanted to play dominoes with him and Mr. Conn, the equipment manager, and insisted that everyone of his players treat me respectfully, while treating me like one of the guys. He and his wife Mary, who died in 1977, were like substitute parents for me my last 3 years of university. He also recognized that I'd grown up in South Bend and even though I was the assistant manager for the MSU Spartans, I still had some loyalty to Notre Dame. I'll never forget him clomping down the tunnel at Munn that first year it opened, in skates, and coming over to me and telling me he'd thought about it, then he blew out a puff of smoke from his nearly ever present cigar, and said that he, Amo Bessone, was giving me dispensation to root one night of the 2 night series for Notre Dame, but he better not hear me while I did it.

How many people remember the time he stood on the boards by the bench when MSU was still playing in Dem Hall? He was livid with the refs, and when the play stopped he stood up on the boards, and whistled and whistled until he'd got the attention of the ref and then proceeded to chew them out for some blown call.

I think back to that 1973-76 time when I got the chance of a lifetime and am saddened to think that the of the 4 coaches who had such tremendous amounts of time for me, Amo, Herb Brooks from Minnesota, Bob Johnson from Wisconsin and Lefty Smith from Notre Dame, 3 of them are now gone forever. Sometimes I wish time would stop.

Old Pio
01-11-2010, 06:06 PM
Sorry to hear about Amo. One of the founding fathers of the modern college game. I was at that FF where Michigan State beat Clarkson (DU had been robbed in the semis on a Cliff Koroll goal that the zebras missed and lost to Clarkson). In the championship game a clearing pass skittered up and over the boards and whacked Amo's young son (about 10) over the eye. I was right behind their bench. Blood all over the place, but Amo never looked over at the kid. The trainer took him downstairs for what I assumed were some stiches (like that scene in Youngblood where Rob Lowe is talking about going to the emergency room to get his cut sewn up, and the trainer pulls out a pin cushion with a wide assortment of needles).

Amo was, how shall I say this, colorful. On one memorable occasion in the old barn, some DU fans got his goat pretty good and he was halfway off the bench and into the stands before the ever vigilant Arena crew corraled him and led him back to his seat.

A great figure. RIP, Amo.

Third Family Member
01-11-2010, 07:41 PM
Sorry to hear about Amo. One of the founding fathers of the modern college game. I was at that FF where Michigan State beat Clarkson (DU had been robbed in the semis on a Cliff Koroll goal that the zebras missed and lost to Clarkson). In the championship game a clearing pass skittered up and over the boards and whacked Amo's young son (about 10) over the eye. I was right behind their bench. Blood all over the place, but Amo never looked over at the kid. The trainer took him downstairs for what I assumed were some stiches (like that scene in Youngblood where Rob Lowe is talking about going to the emergency room to get his cut sewn up, and the trainer pulls out a pin cushion with a wide assortment of needles).


It must have served John, his son, well. He went on to become an ABC Sports producer. And Amo expected no less concentration from himself. He was standing to the side of the bench during one game at Munn in the 1975-76 season when a puck whistled off the ice and smacked him right in the face, opening up a rather large gash above his eye. He refused to go back in to the training room so the team doctor could stitch him up until the period ended. Stood there, next to the penalty box for the last few minutes of the period, towel pressed to his face, screaming at me, "time, time", because I was the student manager with the stop watch in one of his experiments to keep line times from getting out of hand. The period ended, he went back and got 4 or 5 stitches, and was back on the bench at the start of the next period, big bandage over the cut.

Old Pio
01-11-2010, 07:55 PM
It must have served John, his son, well. He went on to become an ABC Sports producer. And Amo expected no less concentration from himself. He was standing to the side of the bench during one game at Munn in the 1975-76 season when a puck whistled off the ice and smacked him right in the face, opening up a rather large gash above his eye. He refused to go back in to the training room so the team doctor could stitch him up until the period ended. Stood there, next to the penalty box for the last few minutes of the period, towel pressed to his face, screaming at me, "time, time", because I was the student manager with the stop watch in one of his experiments to keep line times from getting out of hand. The period ended, he went back and got 4 or 5 stitches, and was back on the bench at the start of the next period, big bandage over the cut.

Great story.

owslachief
01-11-2010, 08:17 PM
I'm looking through these responses and all I can say is this is incredible, wonderful stuff. I have only two connections to Amo - one is simply (and obviously) as a fan of the program and an alumnus, and the other (tho a little tenuous) is I met him at a book signing in '98. I now I wish I had at that time a greater appreciation for the trailblazing he and others in the pantheon of college hockey legends had done. I sure do now.

Thanks for taking the time to tell your stories.

bigblue_dl
01-11-2010, 11:32 PM
We ran into Amo in St. Louis for the frozen 4. We were in the elevator wearing Tech gear, and Amo said to us "hey I used to coach there!" So we talked to him for a little bit and a picture with him, seriously one of the highlights of the trip. He just seemed like a great guy that truly loved the game. He will be missed.

masquedman
01-12-2010, 04:25 AM
Amo will be missed but his enthusiasm for the game has been passed on to the many hearts he touched along the way. Thanks Amo.