ORONO, Maine -- University of Maine head men's ice hockey coach Red Gendron has announced that Jay Leach has been hired to serve as associate head coach. Leach, who previously served as an assistant at UMaine for Shawn Walsh, comes to Maine with 30 years of coaching experience, including a total of 22 years with the National Hockey League.
"We are absolutely thrilled at the hiring of coach Leach," commented coach Gendron. "His knowledge, passion, and teaching ability are beyond exceptional. I've worked with Jay before now while coaching US National Teams and with the New Jersey Devils organization so I know from first-hand experience exactly what we will get from Coach Leach. His recruiting and coaching excellence was instrumental in Maine's rise to national prominence working with coach Walsh. He knows Maine Hockey, he loves Maine Hockey, and he doesn't accept anything less than the best from himself, from his peers, and from the players he coaches."
"I know how important Maine Hockey is to the state," said Leach. "The University of Maine is a very special place to go to school and also to play hockey. Maine has been very fortunate to land Coach Gendron. I have known Dennis (Gendron) for over 30 years. His passion and knowledge of the game is extensive and I would not have accepted a job like this under any other college coach. Red and I simply speak the same language and understand the task involved. I would like to also thank Steve Abbott for his support of both the program and myself. I look forward to seeing Alfond Arena full and being part of the excitement that has always been Maine Hockey."
Leach began building his extensive coaching resume in 1983 where he spent a year as an assistant coach at then Division II Merrimack College. Following his year at Merrimack, Leach became the associate head coach at the University of Maine, spending four seasons with the Black Bears and eventually helping to guide Maine to the NCAA Final Four in 1988.
After his time at Maine, Leach began his professional career as an assistant with the NHL's Hartford Whalers from 1988-91 before assisting Team USA to the Canada Cup Silver Medal in 1991. Leach earned his first head coaching job in 1991 when he spent three season's at the helm of the Whalers' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Springfield Indians, guiding the Indians to the Northern Division Championship in 1991-92 and to the Calder Cup finals in 1992-93.
Leach became the head coach of the AHL's Hershey Bears in 1993, spending three seasons with the team while leading the Bears to the Southern Division Championship in 1993-94.
In 1996, Leach served as a special assignments scout with the New York Islander's before returning to the NHL coaching ranks as an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings from 1996-99. Leach also returned to Team USA in 1997 as her served as an assistant with the program's team which competed at the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland and was also an assistant with the 1999 team which attended the World Championships in Oslo, Norway.
Leach spent the next 12 years as an assistant coach in the NHL, serving 1999-2001 with the Atlanta Thrashers; 2001-03 with the New Jersey Devils and 2003-10 with the Washington Capitals, while also serving three more stints as an assistant with Team USA during those 12 years.
Most recently, Leach has spent the last three year's working with the Thunder AAA Hockey Under-18, U-16 and U-15 programs, serving as a mentor, working with the coaches program, coaching the kids and working directly with player personnel.
"I am looking forward to the challenge ahead and, at this stage of my life, going back to a place that is very special to our family," added Leach. "My coaching career got its initial boost at Maine and also more important we started our lives as a family in Maine. My wife Jeannie and I had our first two kids at Maine, Heather, a UMaine grad, and Chris."