ORONO, Maine — Former University of Maine associate head coach Bob Corkum is looking forward to his new challenge with the New York Islanders.
Corkum, who was named the interim head coach after Tim Whitehead was fired in April, will work in the Islanders’ player development office where his responsibilities will include scouting and working with young players in the Islanders organization to prepare them for the NHL.
“It is a little different direction than I had anticipated, but I’m excited about the job. The Islanders are a family-oriented franchise like New Jersey was when I played for them, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Corkum, who had applied for the Maine job and was one of the finalists only to lose out to Yale assistant and former Maine assistant, Red Gendron.
Corkum was named the associate head coach under Whitehead Aug. 22, 2008 after a successful stint as the associate head coach of the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
Corkum was the head coach of the United States Under-18 Select team that won the silver medal in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in Slovakia last month.
His U.S. team beat Russia (4-2) and Slovakia (5-2) in pool play following a 3-2 overtime loss to Finland and then topped the Czech Republic 5-3 in the semifinals before losing to Canada 4-0 in the gold medal game.
“It was a great experience. The guys showed a lot of character,” said Corkum. “We didn’t get into [our hotel rooms] until 2 a.m. on the day of the gold medal game after playing the previous night. The guys ran out of gas. But Canada had a good team.”
Corkum is the fifth former Black Bear player to land with the Islanders organization.
Garth Snow is the general manager; Jack Capuano is the head coach of the Islanders, Mike Dunham is the goalie coach and Scott Pellerin is the head coach of the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn.
The 45-year-old Corkum will be at the Islanders’ mini-camp that starts Friday at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Capuano, Corkum’s former Black Bear teammate, is looking forward to working with Corkum and feels he will be a valuable asset to the Islanders organization.
“He has a good eye for talent and he’s a good communicator,” said Capuano. “This is a new chapter for him. He had been working with players coming into college, and now he’ll be working with players just getting out of college as well as with Major Junior players.”
Capuano also said Corkum epitomizes the Islanders organization in that he carved out an impressive 720-game NHL career through hard work, determination, patience and by playing with desperation in addition to his skill set.
Semler praises Gendron
Jack Semler, who was the first head coach of the University of Maine’s men’s hockey team and guided the Black Bears to a 105-112-2 record, attended the recent alumni weekend in Orono to “show [his] support” for Gendron and the program.
The 67-year-old Semler has worked hockey clinics with Gendron and said, “he’s a good fit for Maine.
“You talk about a [top-notch] resume … He has coached at every level, starting at Maine,” said Semler. “And I can’t tell you how much it means to have a head coach who speaks French as well as an assistant [Ben Guite] who does.
“I can’t wait to start following them,” added Semler.
He said it doesn’t seem that long ago when he was behind the Maine bench and said it is still a “special place” for college hockey.
He spent last season as an assistant coach at Division III Nichols College (Mass.) under first-year head coach Kevin Swallow, a former Black Bear player. Nichols went 16-9-1 overall, 9-4-1 in the conference and finished second.
“Kevin’s a great head coach and a great guy to work for,” said Semler who won’t return to Nichols because it was an 80-mile one-way commute from his home in Hadley, Mass. to the Levy Rink in Burrillville, R.I. where Nichols practices.
Semler was joined by three members of his first team (1977-78): defensemen Marc Son, Tom LeBlond and Art Demoulas.
Santini has mixed allegiances
Former Black Bear forward Steve Santini will have mixed allegiances this season because his son, Steve, will be a freshman defenseman at Boston College.
“I’ll cheer for BC when they play Maine, but I’ll cheer for Maine against everybody else,” said Santini whose son was a second-round draft choice of the New Jersey Devils which causes another dilemma for his dad.
“I’m a New York Rangers fan,” said native New Yorker Santini.
The alumni weekend was a perfect fit for Santini.
He attended the alumni get-together while his wife, Sandy (Wadleigh), attended her 30th Orono High School reunion.