Sunday, April 20, 2014
ORONO – The eyes are blue. The thick hair and mustache are white. The name is Red.
Red Gendron, who helped Yale win the NCAA title last season as the associate head coach, wants a return to the days Alfond Arena was bubbling with excitement.
Photos by Michael C. York/The Associated Press
Red Gendron was chosen by a search committee led by Dr. George Jacobson, center, and then hired by the school president, Paul Ferguson, right, to succeed Tim Whitehead.
UMAINE HOCKEY COACHES
• Jack Semler, 1977-83 (105-112-2)
• Shawn Walsh, 1983-2001 (399-215-44)
• Greg Cronin, 1995-96 (20-13-2)
• Tim Whitehead, 2001-13 (250-171-54)
• Red Gendron, 2013-
NOTE: Cronin was the interim coach while Walsh was suspended for violating NCAA rules
Twenty years after he rode a bus filled with triumphant hockey players carrying an NCAA championship plaque from Bangor International Airport to a jam-packed Alfond Arena for a delirious reception, Dennis "Red" Gendron has returned to the University of Maine to accept the challenge of returning the Black Bears to their former glory.
Gendron, an assistant to the late Shawn Walsh on the 1993 national championship team, officially became the successor to Walsh's successor Tuesday. He replaced Tim Whitehead as the men's hockey head coach.
"I want this generation of Maine men to experience what the '93 and '99 teams did," Gendron said to a gathering of more than 100 that included current Maine players, alumni, staff, coaches from other UMaine sports, and media.
A 55-year-old native of Berlin, N.H., Gendron signed a four-year contract worth $205,000 annually to take over a program that has lost more than it has won over the past six seasons, only one of which resulted in an NCAA tournament appearance.
It was Walsh, the architect of those '93 and '99 national title teams, who gave Gendron his start in college hockey, hiring him from a high school in St. Albans, Vt., and pairing him with venerable assistant coach Grant Standbrook, whom Gendron called "by far the greatest college hockey recruiter of all time, and who also possesses an incredible hockey mind and unparalleled teaching skills."
From Walsh, Gendron learned lessons of leadership and organization, and how to run a college program. He had been a finalist before, for the Brown job in 2009, and for a national team development program at USA Hockey.
"For me, this is a dream job," said Gendron, speaking in a husky voice that matched his solid frame. "Mostly because of the time I spent here in the '90s and the wonderful relationships formed here that endure to this day."
Stanbrook was one of the people who advised Athletic Director Steve Abbott on the search process, as was Garth Snow, the former Maine goalie and current general manager of the New York Islanders.
Joining Gendron and Abbott on a stage set up on the Alfond floor Tuesday were the university president, Paul Ferguson, and Dr. George Jacobson, professor emeritus of biology, ecology and climate change, who was the chair of the seven-member search committee.
Gendron parlayed his time in Orono into an 11-year career in pro hockey with the New Jersey Devils, and subsequent college assistant coaching jobs at the University of Massachusetts and, most recently, at Yale, the reigning national champion.
"The opportunity to come back here and begin repaying the university, the Maine hockey program, all of its former players and coaches, it seemed appropriate and necessary," Gendron said. "What transpired for me here 20 to 23 years ago was enormous not only in my development but in preparing me for future opportunities that probably would not have been there otherwise.
"Simply put, I owe."
Gendron met with current team members last week, as did the other three finalists for the job: interim head coach Bob Corkum, an assistant to Whitehead and a former Black Bear player; former Maine goalie, Colby coach and current New Hampshire assistant Jim Tortorella; and Mark Osiecki, former head coach at Ohio State who was fired in mid-April a week after Maine parted ways with Whitehead after 12 seasons.
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click image to enlarge
Dennis "Red" Gendron, left, gestures animatedly during a news conference Tuesday at the University of Maine in Orono where he was introduced as the new men's hockey coach by Athletic Director Steve Abbott, right.