ORONO, Maine — The speculation circulating that the University of Maine hopes to name a new men’s hockey coach by the end of school is unfounded, according to Maine athletic director Steve Abbott.
The last day of final exams is May 10 and commencement will be held the next day.
“I would love to have it done by then, but it would surprise me if we’re able to,” said Abbott, who is attending the annual American Hockey Coaches Association convention in Naples, Fla., this week.
Hockey East has also scheduled meetings.
“I would hope we could get it done before the end of May,” added Abbott.
The school is looking to replace T im Whitehead, who was released from his contract with one year remaining on it on April 9. He was paid his yearly salary of $195,000 as terms of his buyout.
Whitehead compiled a 250-171-54 record in his 12 seasons at Maine but was 96-102-28 over the past six years and made the NCAA Tournament just once after making it every year over his first six seasons. That included four Frozen Four berths and two NCAA championship game appearances.
Abbott said the search is progressing and the list of candidates is impressive as he thought it would be.
“It’s a very strong pool. It has met my expectations. It’s an eclectic mix,” said Abbott.
Abbott said he couldn’t divulge the names but said among the mix are college head coaches and assistants.
Some possible candidates could be former Denver coach George Gwozdecky, who was fired after 19 seasons in which he averaged 23.3 wins per year (443-267-64) and won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005; Toronto Maple Leafs assistant and former Northeastern University head coach and Maine assistant and interim head coach Greg Cronin; Bridgeport (AHL) head coach Scott Pellerin; University of New Hampshire assistant Jim Tortorella and Boston College assistants Mike Cavanaugh and Greg Brown.
Pellerin and Tortorella played at Maine.
The seven-member search committee, chaired by Dr. George Jacobson, professor emeritus of biology, ecology and climate change, has been examining the applications, and Abbott expects them to begin narrowing the field and name a list of finalists soon.
Abbott said there is no set number of finalists.
“It could be anywhere from three to six,” said Abbott. “It will depend on the number of applicants who separate themselves from the rest of the field.”
The Maine job is one of just two Division I jobs that is open along with the University of Connecticut, which will join Hockey East beginning in the 2014-2015 season.
Ohio State assistant Steve Rohlik has been bumped up to replace the fired Mark Osiecki at OSU, and Alaska-Anchorage recently named its four finalists to replace the fired Dave Shyiak: Division III head coaches Chris Brown (Augsburg, Minn.) and Gary Heenan (Utica, N.Y.), Air Force Academy assistant Mike Corbett and Michigan Tech assistant Damon Whitten.
UConn currently doesn’t offer scholarships and will again compete in Atlantic Hockey next season before jumping up to 18 scholarships, the maximum allowed under NCAA regulations, for its move to Hockey East.