Dennis ‘Red' Gendron was officially introduced as the new head hockey coach at the University of Maine Tuesday afternoon in front of fans and members of the media at the Alfond Arena.
Gendron has held a very special place in his heart for the University of Maine because his first college-coaching job propelled him to working in the NHL and subsequent stops in college hockey. The New England College graduate was a member of Shawn Walsh's staff when the Black Bears won the school's first NCAA Championship in 1993.
"To me I think about championships more than anything else. As a coach, during a championship season, as a coach, winning it is what you think of," said Gendron when asked what he remembered most about the 1993 season.
As passionate as he is about Maine hockey and winning championships, Gendron also appreciates the sentimental value of returning to Maine. "To put it simply, I owe this place. I made so many relationships here. Shawn Walsh gave me an opportunity. For me, this is a dream job," said Gendron.
There was a clear buzz in Orono around the addition of Gendron to the program. Maine starting goaltender Martin Ouellette was one of several players who watched the press conference. He said the team is very excited with their new head coach. "We met him through the process and then again this morning. We're very excited as a team," said Ouellette.
Ouellette believes Gendron will make a positive impact on the program. "I think he's going to bring back that winning culture this program needs to carry. He'll bring a compete level that we didn't have last year," said the Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick.
Gendron is equally eager to bring championship hockey back to Orono. "I want this generation of Maine men to experience what the 1993 and 1999 did," said Gendron. The 55 year-old said he expects the Black Bears to compete for Hockey East Championships at the TD Garden and national championships and to be a fixture in the NCAA Tournament.
Gendron is one of a select few to win a NCAA Championship and to own Stanley Cup rings. Originally from Berlin, NH, Gendron boasts winning NCAA Championships as an assistant at Maine in 1993 and just last month at Yale. He also owns three Stanley Cup rings from his time in the New Jersey Devils organization.
In addition to his NCAA stops at Maine and Yale, Gendron served as an assistant coach to Don ‘Toot' Cahoon at UMass-Amherst from 2005-2011. He also has head coaching experience in the USHL with the Indiana Ice and with the Abany River Rats, the Devils' AHL affiliate.
Gendron said he would bring an up-tempo style of play with him to Maine. "We're going to get after it. There are only two kinds of pressure. Pressure that you feel and pressure that you apply. We intend to apply the pressure," said Gendron.
We're excited for the fall to meet the new freshman and see all the returning guys back in better shape," said Ouellette. That seemed to be the general attitude in Orono on Tuesday. People were excited about Maine hockey again.