There’s a cool and famous scene from the first “Mission: Impossible” movie starring Tom Cruise. He’s hovering a few inches above the floor, suspended from some wires coming down through an opening in the ceiling.
It’s a high-tech, covert operation with no room for error.
Now imagine the office is that of Ken Ralph, athletics administrator for the University of Maine Black Bears.
The mission that Tom Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt, has accepted is to retrieve the list of names that Mr. Ralph has put together as he prepares to replace men’s ice hockey coach Dennis “Red” Gendron.
Certainly after seven-plus years of embarrassing UMaine hockey mediocrity and an abundance of losses, including zero success in the postseason, Mr. Ralph must be looking ahead to the end of this season and the coach of the future.
It may be an impossible mission to restore Maine hockey to the glory days. But certainly there has to be a capable candidate somewhere in the United States or Canada who will once again recruit talented players and mold them into a winning program.
The Black Bears are 1-4-1 this season. Their only win came against Vermont, which also is a bottom-feeder these days. Gendron has a career 101-131-31 record (.439) in his eight seasons in Orono. He is 61-83-20 in Hockey East regular-season games and a humiliating 4-12 in league playoff contests.
With the upgrade to hockey facilities coming, it’s imperative that UMaine has the right head coach and staff in place. Starting a search at the end of the season doesn’t make any sense.
So, we circle back to the top-secret list that Ethan is going to try to steal for us. No one will ever admit it exists, least of all Ken Ralph. But it does. At least it should.
This blog will self-destruct in five seconds.
Jeff Solari is the founder of the Maine Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports email newsletter. He has been in sports media since he was 17 and is not shy with his opinions or perspective on the world of sports. The longtime sports broadcaster is a graduate of Mount Desert Island High School and the University of Southern Maine. Previous gigs included WLBZ-TV and WCSH-TV, host of “The Shootaround” talk radio show on WZON and stints with “Downtown” and “The Drive.” Solari has won more than 15 Maine Association of Broadcasters and AP broadcaster awards.