Monday, May 27, 2013

Yale assistant Red Gendron hired at Maine

Dennis "Red" Gendron, associate head coach at Yale the past two seasons, was announced at the next head coach at Maine. He replaces Tim Whitehead, fired in April after 12 seasons on the job.

Fresh off a national championship at Yale, Gendron returns to the place where he began his coaching career 23 years earlier. Maine, with Gendron as an assistant, won its first national championship in 1993.

Though he spent only two seasons as Keith Allain’s top hockey assistant, his impact is clear.

“To me, Red is a great teacher of the game and his presence in our building every single day made our kids better,” Allain said. “We don’t win a national championship without Red on our staff.”

Gendron arrived from UMass in 2011, where he spent six seasons as an assistant, with a sterling reputation as both a mentor and a winner. His friendship with Allain dates back to the early 1980s and USA Hockey camps in Colorado Springs. Allain was an assistant to Tim Taylor at Yale and Gendron was a high school coach in Vermont.

"Tim was active in that relationship," Allain said. "Red was a huge admirer of Tim's, and obviously I worked with Tim at the time. Since then. I've been an assistant of his on the U-17 select team and he was my assistant on some World Junior teams. To me, he's way more than an assistant. He's been a true friend for over 30 years."

Respected and loved by his players, he also brought an impressive list of championships. In addition to his title at Maine, he was part of three Stanley Cup winners as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils.

Gendron spent much of Saturday morning in front of his computer, trying to convey his feelings for Yale and its players in a letter he emailed to the team.

“It’s a two-way street,” Allain said of Gendron’s relationship with his players. “He cares so deeply for each of the players he coaches, and they know that instantly. You’re not going to find a coach that takes a personal interest in a player as much as Red does.”

Gendron’s challenge at Maine is to restore a once-proud tradition. A Frozen Four fixture from the early 1990s through 2007, Maine has missed the NCAA tournament five times in the past six seasons.

Whitehead led the Black Bears to the Frozen Four four times in his first six seasons, twice reaching the national championship game, but combined to go 96-102-28 since 2007. Attendance has also dropped at Maine’s Alfond Arena.

"He's absolutely perfect for that job," Allain said of Gendron. "He knows Maine and the hockey culture up there. And he knows how to win. He told me (Friday) his dream now is for Maine to play Yale at the Frozen Four."


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