ORONO, Maine — Several members of the University of Maine men’s hockey team said they were excited about playing for Dennis “Red” Gendron, who addressed approximately 200 people at the Alfond Arena as he was introduced as the new head coach on Tuesday.
However, they also said there was a lot of sentiment for Bob Corkum, their associate head coach the past five years and one of the four finalists for the job along with Gendron, University of New Hampshire and former Black Bear goalie Jim Tortorella and former University of Wisconsin assistant and deposed Ohio State head coach Mark Osiecki.
The players met the finalists and were given time to ask them questions.
“We definitely would have loved to have coach Corkum to be our head coach,” said right wing Mark Anthoine, who will be a senior. “He’s one of my favorites among all the coaches I’ve played for.
“But he and Red have a lot of common qualities and traits. I’m excited for the team. I’m excited to get going again,” said Anthoine.
Anthoine said he expects the practices to be “more high intensity” and every player will be held more accountable for his play.
“Accountability is going to be huge, we know that, and we’re excited about it,” said defenseman Brice O’Connor, who will be a senior.
“We wanted Bob but we’re very confident with the decision made by the committee, President [Paul] Ferguson and the athletic director [Steve Abbott]. [Gendron] seems like the right man for the job. He has won at every single level. He knows how to win. He will make us play the right way and will bring the intensity back into the arena,” said defenseman Jake Rutt, who will be a junior.
“He has won two national championships [as an assistant at Maine and Yale] and has three Stanley Cup rings [with New Jersey]. You can’t get much better than that. I think we really hit the jackpot,” said center Stu Higgins, who will be a junior.
“He will bring back that winning culture by raising the compete level,” said goalie Martin Ouellette, who will be a senior. “I expect our practices to be shorter but a lot more intense.”
Ouellette also noted that Gendron is going to be a stickler for physical conditioning and “that’s going to help a lot.”
“Nobody said a bad word about him. We liked his enthusiasm,” said right wing Jon Swavely, who will be a senior. “We expect his practices to be harder than the games and that’s the best way to do it. He’s a great guy. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Gendron said he will employ an aggressive, attacking style of play and the players embraced that.
“He is going to have us dictate the play and not [sit back] and react to the other teams. We want to play how we want to play and make the other teams uncomfortable,” said Rutt. “We’re going to force the issue every time we are on the ice. There will be a new energy around the rink. It’s going to be a fun year.”
“We want the other teams to worry about what we’re doing, we don’t want to worry about what they’re doing,” said Anthoine.
Cherie Damon and Janine Tremble, two members of the search committee, said Gendron’s desire, passion, wealth of experience and knowledge convinced them he was the right man for the job. Another member, Peter Metcalf, said he was impressed with Gendron’s leadership ability, charisma and believability.
“You can trust him and get behind him. If he said he was going to hell, you’d get on board with him,” said Metcalf.
Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna, who attended the press conference along with associate commissioner Kathy Wynters, said, “Red has the whole package. I like his personality, I like his presence. He has been a winner, he has been knowledgeable and he has an affinity for this place. He’s perfect for the job. It’s a good day.”