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A Closer Look At Borek & Gendron

Onto Plan G for UMass after Mark Carlson withdrew from the search for hockey head coach last night.  Don’t worry though fans, Athletic Director John McCutcheon still says that no one has been formally offered the job.  With each day that passes he begins to resemble Chip Diller from the final scene of Animal House.  I’m not exactly sure why he continues to insist that no candidates have been offered when a multitude of media reports say otherwise.  He should probably begin to change his tune or maybe not comment at all because UMass hockey fans, who already are calling for him to be replaced due to this poorly run coaching search, now feel that he’s openly lying to them.

Whatever McCutcheon’s motivation for pretending that his “process” is working, he now must turn to someone else and convince them of the positives of the UMass hockey program (and despite all that has gone on there are plenty of them) is worth coming to Amherst.  Many think UMass will now focus on New Hampshire Associate Coach Scott Borek.  Former UMass Assistant Coach Red Gendron is still a candidate and seems to be preferred among the players and a good amount of fans.  There may be a dark horse out there that has yet to pop up on the radar, but assuming the job will ultimately come down to one of these two, I thought I’d take a closer look at both.

Borek has been an assistant coach at UNH for the past 10 years, being promoted to Associate Head Coach after his first year there.  According to his UNH bio, he primarily is responsible for the offensive part of the game for the Wildcats.  Borek has also been an assistant coach at Brown, Providence, and his alma mater, Dartmouth.  He got into coaching due to an injury that ended his playing career after just two seasons for the Big Green.

Borek’s first head coaching job came at DIII Colby College in 1991.  Borek spent three seasons at Colby, compiling a 33-35-5 record, being named a finalist for DIII Coach of the Year during one of his years there.  From there he went west and spent one year as an assistant at Lake Superior State before taking over as Laker Head Coach when Jeff Jackson left.  Borek took over a program that had made the NCAA tournament nine straight years, winning three national championships during that time.  Borek would go 76-94-15 in five seasons there without a single NCAA appearance.  In fact, the Lakers haven’t been to the tournament since the season before he took over.  He would have two winning seasons in those five, going 19-14-5 in his first season and then 18-16-2 in his fourth season when he won CCHA coach of the year.  Ironically he tried to take over for Toot Cahoon after that season, being one of the finalists for the Princeton position when Cahoon came to Amherst.  Of course the position ultimately went to current UMass assistant Len Quesnelle.

Borek would be fired after five seasons at Lake State in which he never won a CCHA playoff game.  He would go on to be the head coach at New England College for a season before heading to Durham.  If Borek were to be hired, UMass fans would have to hope his time as head coach at Amherst would have drastically different results than his first foray at the Division I level.  He is very well respected at UNH and around Hockey East, being instrumental in the recruiting of so many of the talented Wildcat players over the past decade.  Unfortunately, most casual fans know him as the UNH coach who sent out emails to underage recruits, resulting in the program being placed on probation for two years.  Personally, I’m not overly concerned about the incident which appeared to just be an honest mistake.

Red Gendron has extensive coaching experience at both the collegiate and pro level and of course spent six years next to Toot Cahoon on the UMass bench.  He played hockey at New England College before going on to being a teacher and hockey, football, and baseball coach at a prep school in Vermont.  He started his college career as an assistant coach in college at Maine for two seasons in the early 90s and was on the staff when the Black Bears won the National Championship in 1993.  From there he moved onto the New Jersey Devils organization where he served as assistant coach, minor league head coach, and scout.  He spent two years as an assistant with the Devils in New Jersey before spending four years as an assistant in the AHL with Albany.  Gendron was then promoted to head coach of the Albany club, going 39-61-19 in one and a partial seasons.  He was replaced midseason during his second year.  He has three Stanley Cup rings as a result of his time with the Devils.  From there he coached the USHL’s Indiana Ice before moving onto Amherst.  Gendron took his current position at Yale prior to the start of last season.  He has also been involved in coaching for USA Hockey.

Gendron was thought of very highly during his time in Amherst by players and fans alike.  I personally always enjoyed interacting with him and thought he did a great job promoting the program through his work organizing events like the annual golf tournament.  Recruiting-wise he’s been credited with bringing some very talented players in recent years to Amherst.  The fact that he’s fluent in French and can even speak a little Russian is seen as an asset in recruiting.  What Gendron has going against him is if McCutcheon is looking for a total break from the Cahoon era, it’s unlikely he’d turn to Red.  Also, if Cahoon’s stepping down was due to differences between him and McCutcheon in terms of support within the department of hockey, Gendron would probably have the same concerns.  Gendron has a big personality and it’s doubtful he’d remain quiet if he thought the program wasn’t getting the support it needs in order to compete in Hockey East.  If McCutcheon is looking for a “yes man” who won’t complain as he diverts attention to other areas of the department, I don’t think Gendron is it.

That’s my profiles and thoughts of who I see as the leading candidates.  But there could be others out there.  Who knows, maybe McCutcheon will continue to interview another dozen or so candidates, drag the process ever onward, and the new coach can be announced during halftime of the first football game in September.  At this point, I wouldn’t put it past him.

UMass isn’t the only Hockey East team having a bad week (although in UMass’ case it’s also been a bad month and season), Vermont lost one of their top recruits to the NHL.

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27 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  July 14, 2012

    rocks, have you spoken to peter travato about this? he is on the committee and i find it hard to believe he’s standing by silently. he’s always been vocal and i wonder what his role is in the search and if the AD is consulting with him at all?

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    • I haven’t spoken with Trovato. There have been reports, especially early on, that the committee wasn’t being involved in the process by McCutcheon. That may have changed. I did speak to someone recently that said Trovato has been active and is doing what he can to aid the search.

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      • Anonymous

         /  July 14, 2012

        thanks for the reply. then maybe you are right… the AD should be fired. he’s the only guy on the committee that actually played in hockey east!!! they should have involved current and past players.

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  2. Anonymous

     /  July 14, 2012

    Red Gendron, forget the UNH guy. Over recruiting, throws kids away. No need for UMass to get like that. Red, honest responsible and committed to who he recruits. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t . The Red devil has a Stanley Cup Ring, that’s enough for me. Lot of sucees with Red on the staff, he and Toot had differences evident by him leaving. Red is the man recruited most of the players, great hockey knowledge. Case closed pull the trigger stop all this ridiculous banter.

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    • Anon

       /  July 14, 2012

      I’v been saying that for the past month / i like the devil thing thing …put the trigger monday morning and let get going .. I just hope he doesn’t turn it down as well , he just might .. Rocks could the players ask to be released , this could be costing them money if their son was to move on to the next level , wonder if they can take the AD to court , ..

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  3. GUYS GUYS GUYS,

    Why are we still having this discussion? It is clear that after offering the job to 3 B teamers, that we need to step up the hunt for the best available athlete.

    I now refer to my previous posts, lets get an A team winner in here. Greg Brown or Mike Bavis. They are both Studs, young, energetic great recruiters and great human beings. Every kid wants to be like Greg Brown on the ice. Just look at his 25 year record as a coach and player. I spoke to a player on the 2010 BC team and he said the following, “Everybody listens to him because he knows more than everyone. We were struggling on the PP and our top D were making poor choices. He went out demonstrated a move that abused Kreider and Hayes and the whole team said HOLY SHIT!! PP went from average to top 3 in nation. He is a master recruiter because he has lived the dream, is as honest as the day is long, wreaks credibility and lives for the game.” Case Closed. He is our #1 pick

    Bavis, although not the same level of player has done a stellar job at BU. He is the counterweight to Jack Parker. I don’t mean to shortchange him, but my BU guys have not called me back.

    Mr. McCutcheon please take a big time winner, change our culture around hockey and stop throwing BC and BU under the bus. Success is not an accident. These guys know the secret sauce.

    Please Please!!

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    • Anon

       /  July 14, 2012

      very well put .. thank you for those notes .. uMASS could still be the bottom feeler but with class .. I’ll 2nd that , please, please !!

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  4. Outside peanut gallery

     /  July 14, 2012

    as an outside observer, I will note that unless / until the quality of the the UMass academics improve, recruiting will only get lesser persons relative to their competitor schools (which are much better academically, even if their coaches are considered ‘2d rate’ on this site.)

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    • UMass is ranked higher than UNH, Maine, Lowell, etc. Nice try. Go buy a US News and World Report.

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      • The University of Lowell is a great example of how academics have nothing to do with a school’s success on the ice.

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    • Anonymous

       /  July 15, 2012

      If academic standards is related to recruiting than how did maine do it in the 90’s?

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    • Anonymous

       /  July 15, 2012

      Recruiting has zero to do with academic standards and everything to do with the coach. Look at Shawn Walsh at Maine, York at Bowling Green, and some other recent dark horse frozen four teams. The coach makes it happen.

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      • Anonymous

         /  July 15, 2012

        You are definitely on to something with red. Countless former players have called AD with support for red. He just wants a yes man, what a fucking gutless piece of shit this AD is. He knows red won’t put up with any shit and will call him out on his bullshit and lack of support for the program.

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  5. Anonymous

     /  July 15, 2012

    Red will not be the next coach of UMass. Sorry all. The Cahoon era is over move on.

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  6. George

     /  July 15, 2012

    Outside peanut gallery….”unless academics improve”? Probably the the most ignorant post on this board or umasshoops the entire summer.

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  7. Anonymous

     /  July 15, 2012

    Rumor has it that there is white smoke coming from the top of the
    UMass Athletic office. Who will it be??? UMass fans????

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  8. Anonymous

     /  July 15, 2012

    Red was part of the problem that brought umass where they are now. Borek is very well respected by players! He’s a players coach that just happens to be a recruiting animal! No second rate there….

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  9. ICEWEST

     /  July 15, 2012

    There’s not a more knowledgeable mind in the hockey world than Red. But as we all know there’s much more to the job than knowing the game. There’s your relationship with the owner/AD, media, players, alumni etc. Some but not all of these are his strong suits. Everyone’s touting his recruiting skills. Don’t forget Toot’s and Len Quesnelle’s role in bringing in many of the best players that have come thru UMASS in the last 6-7 years. Red can take credit for a few.. However, if you look at the W’s, they don’t really add up to anything other than a few months each year of some exciting hockey, but ultimately below average results. He will want things his way or the highway which most people in power, if they don’t already know, get tired of quickly. McCutcheon knows what he’s getting in Red. I don’t care if every player in the last 5 years wants him. There’s a reason he hasn’t been chosen for any of the head coaching jobs he’s applied for since being fired at Indiana of the USHL after only one year. Although his efforts thus far have been woefully unsuccessful, McCutcheon is clearly looking for coaches who will change the culture of the program, which would not include Red.

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    • I agree Icewest. I think it’ll be tough for Red to get the job for all the reasons you mention.

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  10. Outside peanut gallery

     /  July 15, 2012

    I speak w/ recruits (USAH national team caliber) and for those interested in D1 in the NE, specifically Mass (and yes, those I speak w/ are weighing academics heavily, so the Maine example would be different that what I’m referring to.) Their thinking is surprising consistent and is something like the following: (1) if Harvard not academically possible, then (2) BC/BU, but if coaches are not interested, than (3) NE, and if not NE, then (4) all other schools seem academically about the same, so I’ll next go after Merrimack (because on-ice has dramatically improved) and then UML (up-and-comers on ice) (5) and then maybe UMass. The point is UMass is an after thought…as academics have fallen and the hockey is undifferentiated…

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    • Academics at UMass have risen steadily in recent years in nearly every measure; test scores, valedictorians attending, the Commonwealth College, etc. UMass had ten players named to the Hockey East All-Academic team. If you think UMass lacks in terms of acadmics or you somehow think a public state school can compete with Harvard or other high cost private schools then you’re only showing your own stupidity. The fact is UMass has the top reputation of all the state schools in Hockey East next to the quasi-private Vermont. Do some research.

      No kidding the hockey is undifferentiated. Why do you think the school is replacing the coach?

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    • “all other schools seem academically about the same” o_0

      In what bizarre mushroom-induced fantasy world are “a tiny private business school” and “a tiny, engineering-oriented satellite campus” “academically about the same” as a top 100 nationally-ranked university?

      The recruits coming in for Molnar and Kellogg have spent a lot of time raving about the academics at UMass, as have a couple of the last batch of recruits Toot brought in (I think it was Stack who pointed out academics as a major plus in an interview).

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  11. Outside peanut gallery

     /  July 15, 2012

    and sorry, I left out HC, which is viewed consistently as academically ‘better’, but is generally excluded because of weaker conference (and scholarship limitation). These are the views of 15-16 years olds with whom I’ve spoken over recent years who have participated on / competed in various USAH national programs.

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    • Holy Cross is an expensive private college. UMass is a public state college. What exactly is the point you’re trying to make? You truly look like an idiot by continuing this discussion. I suggest you rethink it.

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  12. George

     /  July 15, 2012

    Outside peanut gallery you are way off base. Actually I’m trying to figure out the same thing too. What the heck are you trying to say?

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  13. Anonymous

     /  July 16, 2012

    Every coach started as an assistant somewhere, Red is an assistant coach wearing 3 STANLEY CUP RINGS. He deserves a shot, I don’t see him as a problem but the solution. Every reason for not him asks the question why not him. No solid reason why not. UMass is heading down a dangerous path, replacing a popular maybe not as successful coach as some people thought, but popular. My last post, if they chose someone else although my son played there I will support Merrimack, B.U, or B.C. because there is no hope in Amherst. State school guy through and through just not getting lack of puling the trigger at least make a pick then everyone can debate that. It seems that the University is out of touch with the impact of their inaction. Red supporter …………

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  14. Outside peanut gallery

     /  July 16, 2012

    Folks – your passion is commendable and key for any program. That said, I’m relaying the perspectives of possible recruits – – these are not my comments/perspectives. They are those of student-athaletes the country’s top hockey schools are actively recruiting. You may demean them as idiots, etc, but these 15-16 year old national caliber prospects, (who are not experts on what UMass is or isn’t, and are at the beginning of trying to sort through generally 25-35 potential schools where they might play hockey,) express similar opinions about UMass. Be that as it may. Good luck with the search and with the upcoming season.

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