The Wheeling Nailers have named Mark Dennehy their 17th head coach in the team's 27-year history, it was announced Wednesday morning.
"After an extensive search, we are excited to welcome Mark Dennehy to Wheeling as our new head coach," Nailers Governor Don Rigby said. "Mark is highly qualified for this position, and we are very encouraged by the work he did with the students at Merrimack College for the last 13 years. We are looking forward to great success with him behind the bench."
Dennehy, 50, played as a defenseman at Boston College for four seasons, and was teammates with Bill Guerin for his final two seasons.
Dennehy's coaching career began in 1994 as an assistant coach at Princeton. He spent the 1999-00 season as head coach at Fairfield University, where his team put together a 3-28-3 record. Dennehy then took an assistant coaching position with UMass Amherst in 2000, and stayed with UMass until he was hired as head coach at Merrimack in 2005.
Dennehy took on a Merrimack team that had not seen a winning season since 1989. The Warriors had their first winning season in over 20 years under Dennehy, when they posted a 25-10-4 record in the 2010-11 season. Through Dennehy's 13 seasons at Merrimack, his team had a record of 168–243–61.
Merrimack fired Dennehy during the 2017-18 season. Providence College head coach Nate Leaman praised Dennehy after the firing:
Very disappointed to hear the news about Mark Dennehy. He not only made Merrimack better. He made Hockey East better. He made all our sport better. I am sure he will be coaching soon.
"I'd like to thank Don Rigby, Brian Komorowski and the entire Wheeling Nailers organization, as well as Bill Guerin and the Pittsburgh Penguins organization for this incredibly exciting opportunity," Dennehy said. "Everything I've heard about Wheeling and the Nailers organization from agents, players and opposing coaches has been positive, and after visiting Wheeling and touring the facilities, I can see why. I've heard the support is outstanding as well. It's a storied team, and I can't think of a better place to start my professional coaching career."
Dennehy attended Mike Sullivan's Stanley Cup party in 2016. Dennehy and Sullivan were teammates in high school:
As teammates at BC High this was just a dream...Couldn't be happier for Mike, Kate, Gig, and the Sullivan Family! pic.twitter.com/i7cWsujTI4
Dennehy replaces Jeff Christian, who was head coach for the past two seasons. Christian's contract was not renewed after the Nailers missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, and multiple women came forward with allegations of inappropriate conduct from Christian on social media.