UMaine hockey coach deserves patience, support of fans

It’s a bit surprising to read some comments about second-year head coach Red Gendron on stories following a loss by his University of Maine men’s hockey team.

Some question whether Gendron was the right hire for the job, whether he can recruit top players to turn the program around and whether he has the credentials to be a head coach after serving as a longtime assistant at several programs.

Others rightly defend Gendron, preaching patience and confidence in a man who has been an assistant on two national championship teams.

Patience is required and those who doubt this just need to consider one statistic: 23-57-2.

That’s the two-year record of late UMaine men’s hockey coach Shawn Walsh in his first two seasons with the fledgling Division I program.

In the next seven seasons, Walsh’s teams went on to average 30 wins a season, culminating in the 1992-93 national championship and 42-1-2 record, the best team ever in college hockey.

Gendron was an assistant coach on that team and the associate head coach at Yale when it won the national title in 2013. He also received coaching experience in the NHL and AHL, so for some to question his credentials is laughable.

He and his coaching staff need time to bring in their recruits and time for  the players to  adapt to their coaching philosophies and systems. A better measure of their success will be in Gendron’s fourth season as head coach, rather than the 24-30-5 mark he has compiled thus far over almost two seasons.

Gendron’s work ethic and commitment to the UMaine program are unquestioned.

Red Gendron (center) is in his second season as head coach of the University of Maine's men's hockey team.

Red Gendron (center) is in his second season as head coach of the University of Maine’s men’s hockey team.

Those needing further evidence of that only need to attend a UMaine practice or game or to recall that Gendron is donating five percent of his annual salary to the UMaine program by donating to the Grant Standbrook Maine Hockey Forever Fund.

Perhaps those who still doubt Gendron should try showing a little more support for the program by attending a game and ensuring Alfond Arena provides a true home-ice advantage. The average attendance for the 13 games at Alfond this season is 4,076, well below the 5,125 capacity.

The puck drops at 7 tonight.

Joe McLaughlin

About Joe McLaughlin

McLaughlin (right) is a Stearns High School and University of Maine graduate who worked for three years at the Aroostook Republican and News in Caribou as a reporter and editor. He has worked on the BDN sports desk for 30 years, the last 18 as sports editor. McLaughlin and his wife, Kathy Schwigan, live in Brewer and have three adult children: Ryan, Matthew and Tess.