Coaches’ Category ~ Class of 2019
Kenny McCudden was born in Chicago, Illinois. His older brother, Brian, was instrumental in his developing a passion and love for the game of hockey. He started skating on ponds and river overflows and then at park district outdoor rinks. He also played at an early age indoors at local rinks like Michael Kirby, Oak Park and Franklin Park Ice Arena, which eventually changed his life not only as a player, but in his hockey future.
At a young age, Skip Thayer and Lou Varga, legendary trainers for the Chicago Blackhawks, allowed Kenny inside the ropes to help set up and pack up when the Blackhawks practiced at Franklin Park when the Stadium was unavailable. They eventually brought him to Chicago Stadium as a stick boy when Kenny was 17 years old. The following year, the Blackhawks hired him as an assistant trainer as he became the staff’s first-ever third man.
Kenny moved on after six seasons. He was later approached by former Blackhawk player Grant Mulvey, and in 1989 the two men started Mid-West Elite Hockey School. The school conducted in-season clinics and sold out summer camps for the next 9 years. Grant was also instrumental in bringing Kenny into the Chicago Wolves organization prior to the club’s inaugural International Hockey League (IHL) season in 1994-95.
Kenny became a specialized coach teaching skill development before the term ‘skills coach’ was ever implemented. He spent 18 years with the Chicago Wolves, both in the IHL and the American Hockey League (AHL), and served under Head Coach John Anderson when the club won its last championship, the AHL’s Calder Cup, in 2008.
Since 2000, Kenny McCudden has been the owner of Ice Company, which specializes in small group clinics and summer camps throughout North America. He has taught the game to over 125,000 players from Learn to Skate to the National Hockey League (NHL).
Throughout his career in Illinois he was honored to work with many youth level organizations. These hockey clubs hired him mostly for their mites through midget skill programs, and include: the Flames, Crystal Lake Leafs, Yellowjackets, Barrington, Cyclones, Mission, Chargers, Park Ridge, Glenview, Sabres, Oak Park, Huskies, and the Elmhurst YMCA. Kenny was honored in 2015 for his 21 years of teaching the game in Crystal Lake by the Crystal Lake Yellowjacket Hockey Club.
Kenny served as a skills coach for USA Hockey’s Women’s National Program, where he won a silver medal at the 2012 Women’s World Championships, a gold medal at the 2013 Women’s World Championships and a silver medal at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. He represented the U.S. Women’s National Program as an on-stage presenter at the 2013 American Coaches Seminar in Naples, Florida.
Over the years Kenny has been hired by several NHL organizations, including the Colorado Avalanche, Atlanta Thrashers and St. Louis Blues to develop their players and operate their development camps. In addition, he has coached skill development in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Sudbury Wolves and taught development to nine junior hockey teams through the Ontario Hockey Association.
He also has had five innovations implemented in the game of hockey. His latest patent invention is used throughout the National Hockey League and every level below.
Kenny McCudden is currently in his fifth year in the National Hockey League as an Assistant Coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he is a member of Head Coach John Tortorella’s staff. In 2016-17, Coach Tortorella won the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year and the Blue Jackets are one of just seven teams to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past three seasons.
NOTES: The IHHF Induction Dinner will be held in their honour on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at the Belvedere Banquet Hall located at 1170 West Devon Avenue in Elk Grove Village beginning at 5:00 pm. Tickets are available by contacting Norm Spiegel at (847) 269-2922 or email Norm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joining in honoring this special group of inductees will be several of the past inductees into the Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees, and all of the past inductees have demonstrated, through their actions over the years, their personal commitment in making a difference in the lives of thousands of Illinois youth and the Illinois hockey community.
The mission statement of the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame is as follows:
“To honor the excellence of those individuals who, through their exceptional endeavors both on and off the ice, have contributed in an extraordinary way to enhance the sport and image of hockey in Illinois.”
On behalf of everyone involved in the game of hockey, we admire and thank each of the inductees into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2019. They truly are in a class of their own.