2022 has been quite the tumultuous year for Rick Bennett.

As the new year began, Bennett was in the midst of his tenth season at the helm of the Union College Dutchmen. After having winning seasons in seven of his first eight campaigns, the Dutchmen were in the midst of their second losing season in a row.

Then, on January 28, 2022, it was announced that Bennett had resigned as head coach, after an investigation was launched by the university into his coaching practices. The team was led by an interim head coach for the remainder of the season, and Bennett was now out of work as a coach.

Less than five months later, Bennett's stint away from the game has officially come to a close.

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Rick Bennett Hired as Head Coach of Professional Team

As announced by team on their website earlier today, the Savannah Ghost Pirates of the East Coast Hockey League announced that Rick Bennett has been named as their head coach. The Ghost Pirates are an expansion team, who will begin play in the ECHL next season.

In addition to naming Bennett as head coach, the team also announced that the team will be an affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights' organization. The Knights have an AHL team, located in Henderson, Nevada, and now have an ECHL affiliate in Savannah, Georgia.

Rick Bennett with the National Championship trophy / Getty Images
Rick Bennett with the National Championship trophy / Getty Images

A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Bennett will be coaching in professional hockey for the first time. Bennett played 15 career games in the NHL over three seasons, scoring one goal and adding one assist for the New York Rangers. He played professionally from 1989 through 1999, last playing in the ECHL, the same league in which he'll begin his pro coaching career.

Bennett was named an assistant coach of the Providence College men's hockey team ahead of the 2000-01 season, and stayed with P.C. until 2005, when he moved to Union College. He spent six seasons as an assistant/associate coach for the Dutchmen, before being named head coach in 2011.

He went 192–133–45 in his time coaching Union, winning a national title with the group in 2013-14.

The Latest on Union Men's Ice Hockey

Meanwhile, back in Schenectady, the Union Dutchmen are embarking on a new era of their own. After being led in an interim basis by John Ronan, the university announced that Josh Hauge had been named the new permanent head coach.

Union hockey's next head coach, Josh Hauge (Union Athletics / Clarkson Athletics)
Union hockey's next head coach, Josh Hauge (Union Athletics / Clarkson Athletics)

Earlier in the year, the NCAA voted that both Union's men's and women's hockey programs would be allowed to offer scholarships for the first time, completely changing the process of recruitment for both Dutchmen programs. Plans are also in the works for a possible new arena for the Dutchmen, to be located in the area of Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady.

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