With today's announcement of Maine firing head coach Tim Whitehead, another head coaching gig at a major college hockey program is now vacant. The good news for Maine is that the field of candidates is pretty wide open for them. Here's a list of some of the names Maine might be looking at.
1. Jim Montgomery
Montgomery is an up-and-comer in the USHL coaching ranks, having turned expansion Dubuque into an annual contender immediately. Montgomery was a key part of some of Maine's national championship teams in the early '90s and seems to be the preferred choice of alumni and fans at Maine. Montgomery also likely brings goaltending consultant/Maine cult hero Grant Standbrook, currently helping Montgomery out in Dubuque, back to Orono. There's more than a bit of correlation between Grant Standbrook leaving Maine's program and Tim Whitehead's demise.
Our Jeff Cox is reporting that Montgomery is very likely to be offered the job after a national search is conducted.
2. George Gwozdecky
Early reports are that Maine is looking at an alum for the job, but come on. How often is there a coach with 12-straight 20+ win seasons and two national titles floating around out there looking for another job? If Gwozdecky is interested in the Maine job, the Black Bears would be foolish not to hire him. Gwozdecky was extremely close to joining Shawn Walsh as an assistant at Maine nearly 25 years ago. Maybe now is the right time for him to take the job.
3. Greg Cronin
Cronin has connections to Maine, starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Black Bears, and was an assistant coach, and served as interim head coach for a year while Shawn Walsh was suspended by the NCAA. Cronin helped build Northeastern into as respectable a team as they've been in a long time while serving as head coach there, before he left to take a job with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He just left NCAA hockey for a shot at the pros, and never seems to stick around at one job too long. Maine has the potential to be a "career" job though with their history.
4. Nate Leaman
Currently the head coach at Providence and another branch of the extensive coaching tree of Shawn Walsh. Leaman was a volunteer assistant at Maine in the late '90s before moving on in his coaching career.He built Union into a power, and turned Providence into a Hockey East contender in a single year.t
5. Scott Pellerin
A former Hobey Baker for the Black Bears, and currently the head coach of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He's been a pro coach his entire coaching career, which puts him at a bit of a disadvantage.
6. Bob Corkum
Currently an assistant coach at Maine. He's likely to get a courtesy look from the school given his resume, but more than likely, Maine is looking for fresher blood with this new hire.
7. Newell Brown
Currently an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks. A long shot here, but Brown has some connections to Shawn Walsh, has been a college hockey head coach before--albeit a lifetime ago. A great coach, but there's plenty of other candidates out there.