Veteran NHL coach Andy Murray has signed a five-year contract to coach Western Michigan, the school announced Tuesday.

He replaces Jeff Blashill, who left after one season to become an assistant coach with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.

The hiring of Murray, who has 20 years of coaching experience in the NHL, comes as the Broncos eye a change in conferences as part of the major shakeup scheduled for 2013.

“Consistent with our stated goals of competing at the highest levels of Division I ice hockey and of winning a hockey national championship this decade, Andy’s hiring is another clear signal our university is seriously engaged in achieving this coveted pinnacle,” Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard said in a statement.

Assistant coaches Pat Ferschweiler and Rob Facca will remain under Murray, who last coached the St. Louis Blues from 2006 to 2010.

The 60-year-old Murray, who reportedly turned down the head coaching job at Rensselaer in 2006, has 10 seasons of head coaching experience in the NHL with Los Angeles and St. Louis and has also been an assistant in Philadelphia, Minnesota and Winnipeg.

Murray’s only collegiate coaching experience came at Brandon University in Canada back in 1979.

His three children all played college hockey. Brady Murray played two seasons at North Dakota, Jordy Murray played three years at Wisconsin and Sarah Murray won two national championships in four seasons at Minnesota-Duluth.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported Monday that Murray will receive a contract similar to the $275,000-per-year deal Blashill received in April.

  • Brian B

    Sad to see Blash leave but I am happy for him. Happy with the Murray hiring. Nice job Kathy Beauregard. Great to see my Broncos taking hockey seriously.

  • Cis

    Gotta think WMU will get an invite to the NCHC now.

  • Ljolson

    Andy Murray is a class act.I got to meet him at Peoria Rivermen games when he was the head coach of the St.Louis Blues.Peoria is the AAA farm club of the Blues.I believe he also coached at Shattuck St.Mary’s in Minnesota.He has also watched his son play at Wisconsin over the past 2 seasons.He is a good man, and he will do a great job at Western Michigan. Mike Olson. Peoria,Il.

  • MiamiRedhawks2008

    Sounds like you got a good one there, Broncos fans. Best of luck this year!

    Go Redhawks!

  • Good hire for Western Michigan.

  • ForeverFaithful

    We won’t know for a while whether he was a good hire or not, but it sure will help recruiting to have a head coach with ten years of NHL experience knocking on the front door.