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Black Bear hockey team loses another important player

The sinking ship that is the University of Maine hockey program continues to take on water, as yet another young, talented Black Bear has boarded a lifeboat and is rowing away from Orono.

Sophomore defenseman Alexis Binner, who had two goals and nine assists last winter, is heading back to his native Sweeden and the lure of professional hockey.

He joins fellow blueliner Brady Keeper and center Chase Pearson in those who have left UMaine early to turn pro. Keeper, Binner's classmate, left Orono to sign with the Florida Panthers while Pearson, a junior, bypassed his senior year to sign with the Detroit Red Wings.

While talented players leaving early should come as no surprise to college sports fans throughout the country, is this yet another sign that players are tuning out beleaguered head coach Red Gendron?

If you ask me, the lure of professional hockey and hefty paychecks sounds a lot better than another losing campaign in Orono. I can't say I blame Binner for wanting to take a chance and play at the next level.

The Black Bears' blue line has taken a significant hit since the start of last season, starting with Patrick Holway's departure - he has since transferred to Hockey East rival Merrimack - and the graduation of power play quarterback Rob Michel.

With the back end expected to be young next winter, expect Jeremy Swayman to see a lot of rubber. Also expect Gendron's hot seat to get a bit hotter.

For now, let's just enjoy the Bruins ride in the Stanley Cup Finals.

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