Moran: Retirement suits Toot Cahoon just fine


Sports Editor

Published: 05-13-2020 4:55 PM

Next month will mark eight years since Toot Cahoon and UMass agreed to go in different directions.

The hockey program found a new coach, fired a coach then found a coach who brought it to national prominence.

Cahoon went into retirement. Not having hockey as the main focus of his life was a change for the puck lifer. For over 50 years the 71 year old either had a stick in his hands or a whistle in his mouth.

Following his playing days at Boston University, he embarked on a long coaching career that ended at UMass.

He was hired to replace Joe Mallen, who led the program since its resurrection in 1993. From 2000-2012, Cahoon led the Minutemen to a 166-229-42 record. His stint in Amherst featured at the time the program’s only trip to the NCAA Tournament.

With hockey aside, his clipboard now features lists, the kind most people who have time on hands have.

“I have projects that I’m involved in, you know projects relative to our own life,” Cahoon said. “I stay really consumed with those.”

Cahoon has enjoyed every moment of retirement since leaving the frozen bench at the Mullins Center.

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Cahoon and his wife Cindy split their time between their condo in North Naples, Florida, and their home in Marblehead.

They like to travel and it doesn’t matter how small or big the trip is. Last winter they visited family in Key West, Florida. They were planning a trip to Europe next year but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled those plans. The pandemic also put his return trip to Massachusetts on hold.

“I’m not running home from what I read back here,” Cahoon said. “It’s a mess, especially in and around Boston. My wife and I are going to stay here until June and right now it’s 75 degrees, bright and sunny and I’m on my way to get a swim in.”

Cahoon has learned a bit about himself since he left the rink.

“We stay busy. I like to follow different things as people fairly do whether it’s the housing industry, the markets and so forth, but that’s all a mess right now,” Cahoon said in his ever-prominent Boston accent. “A lot of reading and a lot of swimming. I swim everyday and walk most everyday so my exercise is up to speed and I like to cook. These are things I found out about myself when I got through coaching and when I had my own time. I couldn’t just sit around.

“The swimming really kind of developed itself,” he continued. “It’s one of the few things I can do without getting too sore. Cooking is something that — I like to eat. If you like to eat you can’t depend on just your spouse to do all the cooking so you start doing a little bit yourself. I really learned to like it.”

Hockey isn’t completely out of Cahoon’s life. He was going to attend the American Hockey Coaches Association annual convention before it was canceled. It’s been held in Naples for 30 years, which is how he came to love the area.

At the convention, he catches up with former colleagues and coaches he faced. Throughout a normal year, he will get together with friends from his playing and coaching days.

What he loves doing most is what every grandfather enjoys, and that’s following his grandkids and their activities. His daughter, Heidi McEwen, and son-in-law, Brandon, have three kids. Jason played hockey and graduated from Bowdoin in 2019. Mikayla plays soccer and basketball at Mount Holyoke College. Shaun is a top junior hockey player who was recently drafted by Tri-City of the United States Hockey League. The family lives in South Hadley.

“I love spending time with the kids,” Cahoon said. “I try to get them down here at least once during the year and then I visit up there. Marblehead is a really nice summer town. One of the reasons we go back there, when we go back to our house, is that we can accommodate everybody visiting us.”

Cahoon bought the house in the 1970s when he started his coaching career. He rented it out when he wasn’t using it, but that isn’t the case anymore.

“It’s in a great neighborhood. I have a lot of friends and classmates for that matter that I went to school with,” he said. “I like to walk down the end of the street and I’m at a beach.”

Cahoon couldn’t be happier with the direction his life has taken him since parting ways with UMass.

“I’m blessed,” he said. “I’m the luckiest person on the planet to be able to have these two places to live. I know my wife enjoys it and my grandchildren enjoy it so it’s a nice situation.”

Mike Moran can be reached at Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.