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Remembering Red

The University of Maine's athletic family was rocked Friday afternoon.

Red Gendron, who had been coaching the UMaine hockey team since the 2013-14 season, collapsed while playing golf at Orono's Penobscot Valley Country Club and died.

Gendron, who leaves behind a wife and two daughters, was only 63 years old. Police are calling it a medical issue.

You can say what you want about Gendron's win-loss record - 103-130-32 - during his head coaching tenure in Orono, but Black Bear Nation was ripped to shreds over the news on Friday.

Gendron, who was hired on May 28, 2013, loved the University and its storied hockey program.

He cut his teeth into the coaching ranks as an assistant under Shawn Walsh in the 1990's, and was the associate head coach on the legendary 42-1-2 1992-93 national championship team.

Gendron was also an assistant on the 1995 Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils, and prior to coming back to UMaine, served as an assistant when Yale won the 2012-13 national title.

It's a tragic day for the UMaine sports community and the hockey community in general.

Many throughout the community, from UMass head coach Greg Carvel to Hockey East Commissioner Steve Metcalf took to social media to express their condolences.

If there was one thing about Gendron that I came to like over the years, whether it was a fan or a journalist, it was that he cared about the UMaine hockey community and made his presence felt.

My late mother in law, who was a season ticket holder for more than 20 years before passing away in 2018, always liked to enter the Alfond Arena when the doors opened. Every time we walked to our seats, we'd see Gendron there talking to fans.

Almost every time, he'd recognize me from the BDN and stop to say hello. Anytime I was thrust into duty covering the Black Bears, he'd always pick up his phone. And if he didn't, I didn't dare leave my desk knowing he'd call back within 5 to 10 minutes.

I can remember when one of his daughters was interested in a news reporter role back when I was on the Metro Desk in the mid-2010's.

He respected the very challenging job we have to do as reporters, but if he had an extra few minutes in the wake of an interview, Gendron always had a story or two to share. He was an open book about the history of hockey the way Bill Belichick is with football.

Gendron was a genuine, good man who tried to stay as positive as possible even when his team was struggling. I can't speak for him but I'm sure he was overjoyed to see former Black Bear Jeremy Swayman winning his first two NHL starts with the Boston Bruins and doing it in impressive fashion.

It's too bad the Covid-19 pandemic halted the 2019-20 season, which was clearly Gendron's best at UMaine. Given Swayman was the best goaltender in the country last season, there's no doubt the Black Bears would've been a dangerous team in the NCAA Tournament had there been one.

Gendron's loss is tragic for the Black Bear and college and professional hockey community.

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