ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Former University of Maine defenseman and assistant coach Campbell Blair, who has spent the past seven seasons as the associate head coach at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, said he has applied for the head coaching job at Maine.
But former Maine and Old Town High School assistant Nate Leaman, the head coach at Providence College the past two seasons, said he had “no comment” pertaining to his interest in the job. He still has four years left on his contract at Providence.
Leaman compiled a 138-127-35 record in eight seasons at Union College and led Union to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2010-11. He also won the Spencer Penrose Award given to the nation’s top Division I coach that year. He is 31-34-11 at PC.
The 46-year-old Blair was an assistant at Maine under deposed head coach Tim Whitehead for five years during which the Black Bears went 131-54-24 and made the NCAA Tournament every year, including three Frozen Fours and two NCAA championship-game appearances.
The Seawolves of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association have gone 74-150-30 in the past seven years and head coach Dave Shyiak was fired last month.
“You can win at Maine,” insisted Blair Monday. “Alfond Arena has the best atmosphere in Hockey East and, arguably, the whole East Coast. The facility is great, there’s great tradition and there’s a ton of alumni who are passionate about the program and want to see it turned around.”
The Prince George, British Columbia, native feels he can recruit blue-chip players for Maine, noting it will be easier than trying to land players at Alaska-Anchorage.
“Maine still has a great name across North America,” said Blair.
He said he feels the team has to be a “lot more aggressive and more difficult to play against” and the players have to be held more accountable for their actions on the off the ice.
“They’ve got to be aggressive going to the net and take time and space away [from the opponent] in the defensive zone,” said Blair, who feels his 12 years as an assistant coach have been “invaluable.”
He has also applied for the Alaska-Anchorage job.
When he was at Maine, he also worked with fellow assistant Grant Standbrook.
He said he and his wife, Kate, a former Maine women’s assistant hockey coach, “loved our time in Maine” and would like to return. The Blairs have two children, James and Avery.
Maine athletic director Steve Abbott said he has been “extremely impressed with the caliber of people who have contacted us about the job so far.”