Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today that newly promoted Director of Player Personnel Chris Clark has been named the general manager of the Cleveland Monsters, the club's American Hockey League affiliate, and that Mike Eaves has signed a multi-year contract to serve as the sixth head coach in Monsters history. Clark succeeds Bill Zito, who was recently promoted to senior vice president of hockey operations, associate general manager and alternate governor by the Blue Jackets.
"Bill Zito did an outstanding job as general manager of the Monsters, highlighted by the team's Calder Cup championship in 2016," said Kekalainen. "But with the additional responsibilities Bill now has with our club, and having someone like Chris Clark ready for this opportunity, the time was right to make these changes."
Clark, 43, was promoted to director of player personnel by the Blue Jackets last week after spending the past seven years in player development. He joined the club in June 2012 as development coach and most recently served as director of player development, overseeing the growth of the organization's prospects playing in the professional minor leagues, various major junior leagues and college hockey.
"Chris has spent a great deal of time over the past several years working with players throughout our organization, including those in the American Hockey League, and his thorough understanding of player personnel and the league make him the perfect choice to serve as the general manager of our AHL affiliate," said Zito. "Chris' familiarity with our organization, combined with Mike Eaves' long and successful history of working with young players, will provide our organization with great leadership that will benefit our players in Cleveland."
Clark registered 103 goals and 111 assists for 214 points and 700 penalty minutes in 607 career NHL games with the Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames. The South Windsor, Connecticut native appeared in 89 games with Columbus between 2009-11 and notched 8-12-20 and 59 penalty minutes while serving as an alternate captain. He spent four-plus seasons with the Capitals, tallying 60-63-123 and 278 penalty minutes in 240 games with the club and serving as captain from 2006-09.
Calgary's third pick, 77th overall, in the 1994 NHL Draft, Clark earned All-ECAC honors during four seasons at Clarkson University from 1994-98. He spent six seasons in the Flames organization from 1998-04 and helped the Flames reach the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.
Eaves, 63, spent 14 seasons as the head coach at the University of Wisconsin from 2002-16, compiling a 267-225-66 record and leading the Badgers to seven appearances in the NCAA tournament, two championship game appearances (2005-06, 2009-10) and the NCAA title in 2005-06. In 2004, he served as head coach of Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championships and led the team to its first-ever gold medal at the tournament.
"Mike Eaves has won an NCAA championship, world junior championship gold medal and developed numerous players that have gone on to play in the National Hockey League over the course of his 30-year coaching career," said Clark. "He brings great passion and experience to our organization and I am looking forward to working closely with him to develop our players and bring the Calder Cup back to Cleveland."
Eaves began his coaching career in 1988 as an assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers, spending two seasons with the club before being named head coach of the AHL's Hershey Bears and compiling a 96-109-35 mark between 1990-93. He went on to spend the 1996-97 season as the head coach of HIFK Helsinki (Liiga, Finland's top professional league), served as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1997-2000 and the head coach of the United States Junior National Team in 2000-01. He spent the past three seasons coaching at Minnesota's St. Olaf College.
The Denver, Colorado native was a two-time All-American at Wisconsin and represented Team USA at the 1976 and 1978 World Hockey Championships. Selected by St. Louis in the 1976 NHL Draft, he went on to register 83-143-226 and 80 penalty minutes in 324 career games with the Minnesota North Stars and Calgary Flames before retiring in 1986.