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College Hockey:
Whitehead ousted as Maine’s head coach after 12 seasons

Maine fired coach Tim Whitehead on Tuesday after 12 seasons and with one year remaining on the four-year extension he signed in 2010.

“This is about the future of our marquee program,” said Maine director of athletics Steve Abbott in a press release. “Since 2008, UMaine has experienced declining Hockey East success, season ticket sales and overall ticket revenues and waning student engagement in men’s ice hockey. The president and I are committed to ensuring that our men’s hockey program is financially sustainable, continues to focus on developing the student-athlete and is known nationally for excellence.”

Whitehead took over the program following the death of Shawn Walsh in 2001 and went 154-69-26 in his first six seasons, but just 96-102-28 over the past six.

This past season, the Black Bears were 2-9-6 at Alfond Arena after averaging 12.2 home wins per season in their previous 11 years. Maine went 9-8-6 over its final 23 games, including a sweep at Boston College and a win and a tie at New Hampshire – two places Maine hadn’t won since 2005.

Maine finished 11-19-8 (7-12-8 Hockey East) last season and was swept by Massachusetts-Lowell in the conference quarterfinals. The Black Bears’ season was also marred by injuries as only five players appeared in all 38 games.

Whitehead guided Maine to two Frozen Four championship games, losing in 2002 to Minnesota and in 2004 to Denver.

“It has been an honor to serve as the head coach of the men’s hockey team at the University of Maine for the past 12 years,” Whitehead said in a statement. “My family and I feel blessed to have been part of the Maine hockey family and we will always cherish the relationships we have built, both at the university and in the Bangor community.

“The Maine hockey fans are the best in the country and they have a lot to look forward to for next season and beyond. I love our returning core of players and our incoming recruits. I’m confident this team will build on our strong second half this season and that they will compete among the top programs in the nation next year.”

A search committee is being created to find Whitehead’s replacement.

Following is the full text of the statement released by Whitehead on Tuesday:

It has been an honor to serve as the Head Coach of the Men’s Hockey Team at the University of Maine for the past 12 years. My family and I feel blessed to have been part of the Maine Hockey family, and we will always cherish the relationships we have built, both at the University and in the Bangor Community.

I have been fortunate to be surrounded with great players, coaches and staff during my time at Maine. We have fought through a lot of adversity together, but we have always embraced those challenges head on. The mutual respect of our players, coaches, and staff is what matters most to me, and I am proud of what we have accomplished together, both on and off the ice.

Competing in 7 NCAA Tournaments, 4 Frozen Fours, and 2 National Championship games were certainly highlights for us, along with our 2004 Hockey East Championship and our 2012 Frozen Fenway victory.

Off the ice, we worked hard to establish a culture of academic excellence and social responsibility that we can all be proud of. In addition, we completed the fundraising and construction of the $3.75 million Shawn Walsh Hockey Center in 2005 and the $4.85 million Alfond Arena Renovation Project in 2012.

The Maine hockey fans are the best in the country, and they have a lot to look forward to for next season and beyond. I love our returning core of players and our incoming recruits. I’m confident this team will build on our strong 2nd half this season, and that they will compete among the top programs in the nation next year.

Tim Whitehead


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  • jmsptrk

    gwoz to maine?

    • Bob Neal

      As a Lowell fan I hope not, but he would be good for Hockey East. HE looks real strong next year. Parker leaving may help BU. Add Notre Dame and could be a hell of a season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.brock.370 Joe Brock

    Hallelujah!

  • Joe

    Finally!

  • tape

    Great news for Maine. Tim Whitehead’s head coaching experience now consists of taking an up-and-coming Lowell program that was contending for NCAA tourney bids after years of being a doormat and immediately ruining it, and then driving perennial national championship contender Maine into the basement after having some accidental “success” with the team he inherited from Shawn Walsh for a few years.

    • Shawn Tomlinson

      Whitehead’s performance for Maine aside, wasn’t it Blais MacDonald who brought Lowell to the brink? I seem to remember Whitehead leaving a strong program behind after replacing an inept and disinterested Crowder, only to see McDonald drag Lowell down further and further with each passing season. I could be mistaken but this is my recollection.

      As far as Maine is concerned, there is no question that Whitehead benefited during his first few seasons there from the amazing work Walsh did with that program and the legacy that great coach left behind. Once the Walsh foundation was gone, Whitehead was simply unable to perform at the same level or draw the same level of talent as did Walsh. Sean Walsh was a legend in his own time – a very difficult act to follow.

      As a UNH fan of 40+ years, I’m hoping both programs can rise to previous levels of greatness and can compete again on the biggest stages. It just doesn’t get any better than 1999… well, maybe it could get just a bit better. That one still stings a bit.

      Anyone else for a change at the Whitt too? Personally, I think it’s time to put away the “whistle” for good.

      • tape

        Crowder took Lowell to the NCAAs twice in his 5 years (and 2 of the last 3), including his last year before Whitehead took over (a year they went 26-10-4, not too dissimilar from this year’s Lowell squad). Whitehead’s winning percentages the next five years: .421, .484, .472, .309 and .539. Instant nosedive.

        Blaise MacDonald, with a couple of outlying seasons, was pretty consistently average-to-below-average. Frankly, I think he was given a few too many seasons, but threw in a good season just often enough to make the AD think maybe he’d string together a couple in a row, but of course he never did.

        Of course, now I wouldn’t trade those 13 years of generally terrible hockey for the world. It’s only making Norm Bazin’s run the last two years all that much sweeter. What a time to be a River Hawk!

      • Arcturus43

        I think Umile is a good coach and UNH has been a quality program that has consistently made the NCAA’s and I’d miss him. Whatever UNH thinks is best I’m ok with though. I too want both UNH and Maine to have high caliber programs, and I’d love to see UNH win a title, with or without Umile.

        • bronxbomberz41

          I think Umile is good as well. for some reason, he isn’t able to bring in he same caliber of recruits that York and Parker have, but almost every year was right there with them when the season came to a close. He just hasn’t been able to finish. But he certainly has been able to coach up kids like Paul Thompson and Bobby Butler, who were not NHL draft picks, into Hobey candidates.

          That being said, I wouldn’t be averse to a coaching change behind the UNH bench. But I don’t know if it would help or hurt. I feel like the program would take a step back if they made the change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5800039 Daniel Cavallari

    I can’t even begin to tell you how happy this makes me. Whitehead absolutely destroyed the Maine hockey program.

  • amp1amp1

    Time for Montgomery!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.sweet.319 Jeffrey Sweet

    I was wondering about his future at Maine, given the fact that Denver Fired Gwas. George back to Michigan State!

    • bradymaine

      maines not hiring gwoz they know who they want.

  • http://twitter.com/gordiebombay9 Gordon Bombay

    Tim Whitehead is and will be a class act. I hope he ends up at UCONN because he is a good coach and has been consistently put Maine in the NCAA’s 7 out of 12 seasons four Frozen Fours and 2 Runner Ups without any NCAA violations is pretty impressive. He didn’t inherit much at Lowell and had them hovering around .500 and playing competitive hockey. I wouldn’t consider 7 seasons of 20+ win seasons accidental.

    • bradymaine

      look at is record after shawn recruits were gone and he got rid of grant. Not good,, you can have him, have fun.

    • tape

      I hope he ends up at UConn too. It’d be nice to ensure that Hockey East has a permanent doormat.

  • http://twitter.com/gordiebombay9 Gordon Bombay

    This sets the stage for Maine to hire Gwozdecky.

  • Steve Reed

    Tim Whitehead coached Maine with the same class he exhibited in his statement above. The university and the state can both be proud of the honorable way he approached running the program and mentoring his players; these traits seem to count for far too little in the more rabid posts on this site (the churlish criticisms I’ve seen previously of both Tim and Dick Umile – two of colleges hockey’s good guys – exemplify the sad fact that sports often drive people to the lowest level of their characters).One excellent point was made by an earlier post which implied correctly that much of Maine’s success in Tim’s earlier years and many of Shawn’s were a direct result of Grant Stanbrook’s unmatchable talent for all aspects of recruiting. My best to Tim in the future.