EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Growing up in Canada, a love of hockey was rooted in Rick Comley as far back as he can remember.
Comley played under Ron Mason at Lake Superior State in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But getting into coaching wasn’t something he had aspirations to do until Mason gave him a call when his playing days were over.
“I really hadn’t given a lot of thought into going into coaching,” said Comley. “[Ron Mason] just called one day and wanted to know if I wanted to come back and I did. He left a year later for Bowling Green and I became the head coach at Lake Superior at a very young age and kind of have done it ever since.”
After a few years with the Lakers, Comley left to become the first head coach in program history at Northern Michigan University.
“Just the thought of coming in from day one and building a team that had no players, that was very enticing to me,” he said.
Over the course of 26 years at the helm in Marquette, Comley built a perennial winner and even guided the Wildcats to a national championship in 1991.
In 2002, he left Marquette to come to East Lansing and take the head job at Michigan State. Just like when he began his head coaching career at LSSU, it was the great Ron Mason he’d be tasked with following at MSU.
Five years later, he led Michigan State to the 2007 National Championship, becoming just the third coach in NCAA hockey history to win a national championship with two different programs.
“The ‘07 team, they weren’t the best team in the country,” said Comley. “But what I tell people is they were the best team in the country for the final four games and it’s the final four games that matter the most.”
Comley retired as one of only five coaches with over 700 career wins.
This month, he found out he’ll be inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame this fall.
“It was nice to get on the ballot,” he said. “I never really expected because you look at some of the names, you know, Rick Comley is not up there with a Zetterberg or a Rip Hamilton or Ryan Miller or Lorenzo White, some of the people that are there. But it’s a thrill.”
Comley may not have the name recognition as some of the other inductees this fall, but from Sault Ste. Marie to Marquette to East Lansing, it’s hard to find many with a bigger footprint in the state’s hockey history than Rick Comley.
“I’ve worked hard to achieve the success I did but I’m also very fortunate.”