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Wednesday, 10 April 2013 02:24

Tim Whitehead Fired: What's Next For Maine Hockey?

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After 12 seasons on the job as the University of Maine's hockey coach, Tim Whitehead was relieved of his duties today, much to the joy of everyone in the Pine Tree State. The Black Bears have been progressively worse in the Hockey East, ticket sales are down, and students are becoming less and less interested in a losing program.

The next question for UMaine is, "Where do you go from here?" I have some ideas on who the next hire should be and bring Maine hockey back to where it should be: The top.

Jim Montgomery- Head Coach, USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints

This hire would be a popular one with the fans. Montgomery is a former Black Bear having played with UMaine in the early 90s. He was the NCAA Tournament Championship MVP in 1993, when the Black Bears went 42-1-2 in a very dominant season.

Montgomery would later play six seasons in the NHL before entering the coaching field. Montgomery is currently the head coach and general manager of the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL and has success at that position winning the 2011 USHL Championship in the team's second season of existence. Montgomery has experience as a coach on the college level as an assistant coach at Notre Dame and RPI, but he is ready for a head coaching gig now.

Montgomery spoke today about the possibility of returning to Orono as a head coach, saying,

“As an alumnus of the University of Maine hockey program, I have a lot of pride and effort and sweat put into that great program. I would like to look at the opportunity to lead the program back to national prominence.

He's interested, but is UMaine? He would be a very popular pick.

Steve Kariya- Assistant Coach, WHL Portland Winterhawks

Another former player makes this list and its a well known name in Black Bear hockey lore. The Kariya's, Paul, Steve, and Martin, have all been successful during their playing time with the Black Bears, but its Steve Kariya that has a coaching career now and has an outside shot at the job.

Steve Kariya was the captain of the 1999 National Champion Maine Black Bears, but his NHL career didn't turn out like his brother, Paul's did.

Steve is now an assistant coach of the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, a junior hockey league based out of the western provinces of Canada and the Pacific Northwest. However, he has only held that position since the beginning of March and this is his first coaching position, so, its very unlikely that Maine would hire him, but it couldn't hurt to kick the tires.

Greg Cronin- Assistant Coach, Toronto Maple Leafs

This pick would be a blast from the past. Many UMaine fans pine for the years when Shawn Walsh was on the bench and with a Greg Cronin hire, they could very well get it.

Cronin was an assistant for four seasons under Shawn Walsh and was the interim head coach when Walsh was banned from coaching for one year. During that time, Cronin led the Black Bears to an appearance in the Hockey East Championship game where they would eventually lose to Providence.

Cronin spent six seasons behind the bench at Northeastern to mostly losing seasons before heading to Toronto to be an assistant with the Maple Leafs. Cronin has the experience at the college level and could bring some of that much needed Shawn Walsh magic back at the Alfond Arena.

Norm Bazin- Head Coach, UMass-Lowell

Maine could take the same route they did when they first hired Tim Whitehead by taking UMass-Lowell's head coach. Norm Bazin, a former UMass-Lowell Riverhawk, has quickly turned the UMass-Lowell program right around by winning their first ever Hockey East title and clinching their first ever Frozen Four berth. So, yeah, he's a good coach.


Very, very unlikely that Maine even takes a look at him. Bazin used to play with the Riverhawks and has turned the program in the right direction. Bazin doesn't leave for anything.

John Tortorella- Head Coach, New York Rangers

I think its a rule that I have to have a way out there pick and this one is mine. 

If John Tortorella ever wants to get out of the NHL game, and if the rumors are true about him being on the hot seat, look no further than Maine. Tortorella used to play with Maine and is a coach full of fire and energy that could give this team a much needed spark.

Although he is a Stanley Cup winning coach, he has no experience in the college level, but it wouldn't be hard to recruit players to Maine, just flash them your Stanley Cup ring and they are yours.

However, Orono, Maine, although a great college town, cannot compete with New York City at all. Torts has too much fire to step away from the NHL game right now, plus I don't believe the Rangers would part with their head coach.

If you ask me, Montgomery has the inside track at getting this position. He is an up and coming coach and really wants to be there, but anything can happen at this point. Whoever they hire, Maine fans are just hoping to bring the National title back to Orono and the Black Bear program back to the national stage.