April 10, 2013

Steve Solloway: Perfect to polarizing

Hockey coach Tim Whitehead had both supporters and detractors as his tenure at UMaine came to an end.

By Steve Solloway ssolloway@pressherald.com

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Tim Whitehead had plenty of success after replacing the late Shawn Walsh as the University of Maine hockey coach. But once the wins and NCAA appearances dried up, a man of character found his grip on the job becoming more and more tenuous.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Funny, but after Maine tied favored New Hampshire to end the regular season, after beating the Wildcats the day before, a young writer for a college hockey website said Whitehead would get his vote for Coach of the Year. Look at where Maine had started the season, he said. Look at the improvement.

I had to smile. Different place, different perspective.

Yes, there's cheering today. Whitehead is gone. His successor? You don't have to listen closely to hear Jim Montgomery's name, the hero of Maine's 1993 national championship. He scored three straight goals in the third period on passes from Paul Kariya to pull Maine back from defeat. He moved into coaching after his playing career in pro hockey was done. Shawn Walsh in another man's body, say those doing the cheering.

Good luck to Montgomery. Good luck to anyone who gets the job. Good luck to Whitehead. He deserves to find another head coaching job where the fit will be better.

More than 10 years ago I asked if he was able to sleep before Maine's game against Harvard in the NCAA playoffs. He had slept well, he said. It's the unexpected that you worry about.

Maine won that day. 

Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway 

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