Dennis “Red” Gendron is returning to Orono as the University of Maine’s men’s ice hockey coach.

Gendron accepted Maine’s offer to replace Tim Whitehead, signing a four-year contract worth $205,000 per year.

Gendron was an assistant coach under Shawn Walsh when Maine won the NCAA championship in 1993. Since then, he has held a variety of coaching positions, earning two Stanley Cup rings as an assistant with the New Jersey Devils, and last winter was an assistant at national champion Yale.

In a press release, Maine athletic director Steve Abbott cited Gendron’s familiarity with Maine – not only its hockey program, but its rich history. Abbott said Gendron “truly appreciates both the history of this great hockey program and the potential that exists here to compete for Hockey East and national championships. He is an enthusiastic competitor who loves this university and is passionate about Maine hockey.”

UMaine President Paul Ferguson added that the university was looking for more than just a hockey coach.

“Our primary goal in this search was to find an individual who could bring the best balance to our men’s hockey program as a nationally competitive team on the ice and support our student-athletes’ preparation for the future based upon solid academic foundations,” said Ferguson. “We are so pleased to have found that individual in Red Gendron, who personifies that balance. His personal passion for the Black Bears and UMaine is extraordinary and will no doubt unite the Black Bear Nation.”

Gendron said his previous experiences at Maine were part of his decision to return. He will be the fourth coach in the program’s history. Whitehead was fired after 12 years with one year left on his contract.

“All of the wonderful things that have happened…since that time would not have been possible if not for the University of Maine, Shawn Walsh, Grant Standbrook, and all of the champion players and coaches who were part of our first Maine experience. The energy and passion within and surrounding this program are inspiring and have not diminished in my absence,” Gendron said in the release.

“I am fully aware of what this program means to our current players, our alumni, the university and to our fans throughout the state, and I am equally aware of the championship-caliber results they demand from their Black Bears,” he said. “Thank you to President Ferguson, Director Abbott and the wonderful professionals who served on the committee for granting me the opportunity to lead this storied program.”

Gendron will be introduced at a press conference at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Alfond Arena.