The University of Maine men’s hockey coaching staff will have a distinctly new look this season.
Guy Perron, the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator the last two years, is leaving his alma mater to become a scout for the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
And former Maine associate head coach/recruiting coordinator Grant Standbrook, who stepped down to become the volunteer assistant two seasons ago, is retiring, according to Maine athletic director Blake James.
Perron has already been listed as an amateur scout on the Avalanche Web site’s staff directory.
Dan Kerluke, who will begin his fourth season as an assistant and third as a full-time assistant, is the only assistant left on head coach Tim Whitehead’s staff.
Whitehead could not be reached for comment.
“When you move from one job to the next, it’s always tough,” said the 42-year-old Perron. “My heart is with the University of Maine’s hockey program and it always will be.
“But, at this stage of my career, this is an opportunity to get to the next level and I decided to go in that direction,” said Perron. “You only have one shot at it and there was a small window of opportunity so I decided to take it. I never had the opportunity to play at the NHL level and one of my goals has been to be part of an NHL team.”
He said it was a difficult decision but he grew up a Quebec Nordiques fan and the Nordiques eventually became the Avalanche.
“I used to watch the Nordiques all the time,” said the Laval, Quebec, native. “If it was another NHL team, I wouldn’t be leaving.”
Another factor was Perron has a good friend in the organization, director of amateur scouting Rick Pracey.
“Rick and I go back 10 years,” said Perron, who was contacted by the Avalanche about the job.
He also said he will be able to continue to live in Bangor with his wife Renee and their three children.
“That was a big factor in our decision. We didn’t want to move,” said Perron.
The job itself will be very similar to his job at Maine: evaluating talent. He will primarily be watching college, prep school, junior hockey and high school players and making recommendations to the Avalanche for the NHL draft in June.
James said UMaine will launch a national search to fill Perron’s position and hopes to name a replacement as soon as possible.
Perron said he has a multi-year contract with the Avalanche but wouldn’t discuss the terms of the deal. He did acknowledge that he will be taking a pay cut from his $81,000 a year contract at Maine.
Perron is 16th on the University of Maine’s all-time scoring list with 146 points (62 goals, 84 assists) in 136 games.
He was a two-time captain.
After graduating from Maine in 1990, Perron played pro hockey in Sweden.
He returned and assisted the late Shawn Walsh at Maine in 1991-92 and 1994-95. In between, he served as the head coach of the Bangor High School team for two years and was the Class A coach of the year in his rookie season.
Perron served as an assistant coach at Dartmouth College from 1995-97 and then became the coach and general manager of the Chicago Freeze of the North American Hockey League from 1997-2003, directing them to a 167-150-19 record.
He came back to Orono and coached the Black Bear women’s ice hockey team for two seasons, leading them to a 31-24-9 record. His second Maine team set a school record for wins with 17 (17-9-6).
He was then named to replace Campbell Blair as the associate head coach/recruiting coordinator for the men’s program.
Maine went 23-15-2 and earned its fourth Frozen Four berth in six years in 2006-2007 but the Bears slipped to 13-18-3 this past season and finished ninth in Hockey East thus missing the tournament for the first time since the 1996-97 season when they were prevented from playing in it by the league due to NCAA violations and sanctions.
“The last two years have been busy. It was exciting at times. This past season, it was a rebuilding year. We had nine or 10 newcomers. We had lost of lot of key guys and we had a lot of injuries. It was challenging. When we had a full squad, we won games,” said Perron.
He feels the program can bounce back next season.
“The [veteran] players will have to step [it] up and with the new guys we have coming in this year and next year, I’m sure Tim and Dan will continue to do a good job,” Perron said.
Standbrook, who could not be reached for comment, was the primary recruiter for 18 years at Maine and, during his tenure, Maine compiled a 493-216-66 record.
He played an integral role in Maine’s two NCAA championships and 11 Frozen Four appearances. He recruited and coached 34 All-Americans and 10 Olympians at Maine.
He was recognized for his work as an assistant, earning the 2005 Terry Flanigan Award presented by the American Hockey Coaches Association.
Prior to coming to Maine, Standbrook helped the University of Wisconsin notch three NCAA titles. He coached 18 All-Americans at Wisconsin.
The Winnipeg native and University of Minnesota-Duluth standout was an assistant coach for two U.S. National teams, the 1976 U.S. Olympic team and the head coach at Dartmouth College from 1970-75.
Standbrook has coached 68 NHL players and has earned a reputation as an exceptional goalie coach. Eight former Maine goalies under Standbrook’s tutelage have played in the NHL.