Former Maine assistant Leach brought back as associate coach

Maine announced Tuesday that Jay Leach has been hired as the Black Bears’ new associate head coach.

Leach, who previously served as an assistant coach at Maine under Shawn Walsh, comes to Maine with 30 years of coaching experience, including a total of 22 years in the NHL.

“We are absolutely thrilled at the hiring of Coach Leach,” said Maine head coach Red Gendron in a statement. “His knowledge, passion and teaching ability are beyond exceptional. I’ve worked with Jay before now while coaching U.S. national teams and with the New Jersey Devils organization, so I know from first-hand experience exactly what we will get from Coach Leach. His recruiting and coaching excellence was instrumental in Maine’s rise to national prominence working with Coach Walsh. He knows Maine hockey, he loves Maine hockey, and he doesn’t accept anything less than the best from himself, from his peers and from the players he coaches.”

“I know how important Maine hockey is to the state,” added Leach. “The University of Maine is a very special place to go to school and also to play hockey. Maine has been very fortunate to land Coach Gendron. I have known Dennis [Gendron] for over 30 years. His passion and knowledge of the game is extensive and I would not have accepted a job like this under any other college coach. Red and I simply speak the same language and understand the task involved.”

Leach started coaching in 1983 where he spent a year as an assistant coach at then-Division II Merrimack. Following that year, Leach became the associate head coach at Maine, spending four seasons with the Black Bears.

After his time at Maine, Leach was an assistant with the NHL’s Hartford Whalers from 1988-91 and then earned his first head coaching job in 1991 when he spent three seasons with the Whalers’ American Hockey League affiliate Springfield Indians.

Leach became the head coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears in 1993 and in 1996, served as a special assignments scout with the New York Islanders before returning to the NHL as an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings from 1996-99. He spent the next 12 years as an assistant coach in the NHL, serving 1999-2001 with the Atlanta Thrashers, 2001-03 with the Devils and 2003-10 with the Washington Capitals.

From 2010-13, Leach worked with the Thunder AAA Hockey Under-18, U-16 and U-15 programs.