Everyone I run into has an opinion on who should be the next UMaine hockey coach so why not me?
Actually, I’m not sure I have the exact candidate but I can offer my unsolicited advice – to those who will make the pick, to the guy who gets the gig and to Maine hockey fans.
#1 The search for the new coach should not be rushed – unless there was a crystal-clear choice on the day you let Tim Whitehead go. This is probably not a popular idea but I believe it to be true. I know many hockey fans are disappointed that Maine didn’t act quicker on Jim Montgomery. Denver University, like BU, is a private school. The hiring process is different from a public school. I don’t blame DU. I don’t blame Montgomery. I don’t blame UMaine. Surely Jim Montgomery is not the only qualified coach out there.
#2 Just because current players want an assistant coach (Bob Corkum) to be the next guy doesn’t mean he should be. It’s understandable that players want someone they already know. But again, if he was your choice last week then hire him. If not, check the field and then decide.
#3 Hockey fans should remember that hiring someone with a big name is not always the best hire. Shawn Walsh was a Bowling Green backup goalie as a player and a no-name assistant coach (to most Maine fans) when athletic director Stu Haskell hired him. He turned out OK.
#4 Someone with no Maine ties might be the way to go. Again, not a very popular thing to say. But, I’m thinking an assistant coach such as Greg Brown from Boston College has learned a thing or two from Jerry York over the years. What about former DU coach George Gwozdecky? Read between the lines out there and I get the sense many hockey folks can’t believe he got the axe. No on-the-job training needed for this guy.
#5 When the new guy is chosen, UMaine officials and the new coach need to carefully choreograph the first press conference and the early days on the job. Be bold at the press conference. It’s OK to say this is where the program will be next year, in three years, in five years. Hockey fans want to know what is the vision of the new coach. Many fans will make their decision on whether it’s the right choice or not based on what they see, hear and read on day one.
In my time covering the first press conference of new UMaine coaches, two stick out. Shawn Walsh and Joanne Palombo. Both carried the room and I remember thinking “I don’t know if they can coach a lick, but I know they’ve got “it”, whatever “it” is.
#6 On day two, three, four and five go ring the church bells from Kittery to Fort Kent (as Bob Norton said on ESPN when the Bears won their first national championship). Maine people want to size up the new guy. Go play a round of golf at Aroostook Valley GC in Fort Fairfield to let County folks know you care and you’ll also be stepping into New Brunswick too. Have a breakfast at Becky’s Diner in Portland. Stop in at the Ice Vault in Hallowell. Climb Cadillac. Show up at the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls.
You get the point.
The UMaine hockey coach job is more than just a coaching job.
Take the time to get it right.
ITEMS FROM THE DUFFLE BAG:
— 23-14-3. Anybody remember. Anybody care. The UMaine hockey record a season ago.
— More numbers…4-6-5-6-5-3-4. For those scoring at home that’s the triple play turned by the Yankees the other night. Cano-Nix-Youk-Nix-Overbay-Cano.
— I hereby announce that I’m adding 200 strokes to my career golf score. After hitting into the water, I must have dropped a ball the same way Tiger Woods did at the Masters at least 100 times…so 100 x 2 stroke penalty = 200. Rule 33-7. There goes my PGA card.
— I am interested to see early season play in high school baseball and softball. The miserable weather has cut into outdoor practice time and scrimmage games for many teams.
— Sox closer Joel Hanrahan says all the right things but I see a little Calvin Schiraldi in his face. And that is not a good look.
— No disrespect to Colby and Thomas College baseball but the in-state baseball game I want to see is (21-14) UMaine vs (20-3) USM.