They say it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings. Well put in some earplugs, because that big, old broad is belting out “Hit the Road Jack” at about 140 decibels.
Let’s call it a Casey Kasem Long Distance Dedication to Red Gendron from Black Bear Nation following an embarrassing 7-2 home playoff loss to lowly New Hampshire.
It was UMaine’s first home game in 369 days. It looked like the team’s first time on skates in 369 days.
After University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy stepped up to allow the Black Bears to host this game, the team could have at least shown up. In what is probably the only positive of COVID 19, the horrible virus at least kept fans from blowing hard-earned money on the Black Bears latest public humiliation.
The BDN’s Larry Mahoney on the Black Bear Sports Radio Network: “New Hampshire was the better team. New Hampshire was more disciplined. They won the puck battles. Maine has a lot of decisions to make. No semifinal appearances in eight years.”
Let’s just slide by the fact UNH is terrible and in full rebuild mode, yet outplayed Maine for almost the entire game. But please stop and let that last fact sink in for a moment.
Eight years. No Hockey East semifinals. Not one.
Under previous coaches, fans could almost always count on a trip to Beantown at the end of a long Maine winter. But the Black Bears have never moved past a quarterfinal playoff series, not even once, in the miserable tenure of the about to be dearly departed Gendron. His teams are now 4-13 in the playoffs at the school that used to be a postseason powerhouse. If you’re not appalled, you’re not a fan.
Believe me, every time I write one of these not so warm and fuzzy columns, I get tons of emails from excuse-makers. These people must get personal Christmas cards from Gendron or something. But this time, the perpetual cellar-dwelling status and playoff failures of the Black Bears cannot be defended or justified by even the softest of fans.
If you dare write me with that loser mentality now, I hope you know the late Shawn Walsh is looking down from the great hockey rink in the sky and pointing his finger right at you. Frankly he would be ashamed at how far his program has descended from greatness down past mediocrity all the way to incompetent irrelevance.
In fairness, it should be noted that Gendron is the lowest-paid head coach in Hockey East at $213,282.08 per season. I guess you get what you pay for.
Division I athletics is about winning. UMaine hockey used to do that. But not in the last two presidential terms. Improved facilities are coming. But you can put a sheet of ice in a gold-plated palace encrusted with the queen’s jewels and cash raining from the ceiling and it won’t bring wins unless you have someone at least moderately qualified at the helm.
Red’s contract is up June 30. But Ken Ralph needs to show the fans some mercy and end this now. Mr. Ralph, send a message to anyone still paying attention that Red’s same old sorry song and dance is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. It’s time to sing a new tune in Orono.
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.