Football legend Huard now serious hockey fan

This story was published on April 12, 2004 on Page C5 in all editions of the Bangor Daily News

UMaine alum and former Maine Maritime Academy head football coach John Huard is no stranger to Frozen Four games. The former UMaine gridiron star saw Maine win its first national title in 1993 and has been attending the event almost annually since.

“I probably have more passion for hockey than I do for football now,” said Huard.

Strong words from a guy whose name is synonymous with football and who never even played hockey.

“I never played. I could never skate, but my dad did and all of my grandkids do,” Huard said with a chuckle. “I love the game. It’s fast and physical and fans really get into it.”

Huard coached MMA’s Mariners from 1987 through 1993. He also coached in the Canadian Football League as a head coach for Shreveport and Toronto. He now works as the New England representative for Northeast Turf, a company that sells and installs a new generation of synthetic turf called Field Turf.

“We install them all over the Northeast,” said the 1967 UM grad. “The Patriots have our field. Maryland, Husson College, Curry, Framingham State, Dartmouth, and all kinds of other schools.”

Huard, now 60, managed to track down seven tickets for friends and family to attend the Frozen Four. In fact, he had so many contacts and potential sources for tickets, he could have grabbed four more, but turned the chance down.

Huard literally stumbled into his turf job.

“It was purely by accident,” he said. “A friend of mine was covering the Atlantic coast area from the Maritimes down to Maryland for this company, but he had a heart attack before he got a chance to see this Field Turf product, so he asked me to go out and check it out. I told him it was the best I’d ever seen. It was outstanding.”

Huard was also asked to meet with the Field Turf CEO for his friend in Reno, Nev. That meeting led to a job.

“He asked if I could handle the New England region and the rest is history,” he explained. “We went from two little fields the first year to 40 or 50 this year.”