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Pat Spekhardt Pat Spekhardt
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Fair weather complainers

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Fair weather complainers Josh Gibney (AP)

First, congratulations to the University of Maine men's hockey team for battling to the Hockey East Championship game and earning a berth at the NCAA tournament. Twenty-three wins and counting...

Second, congrats to the UMaine hockey fans (well, most of them) for actually acknowledging that the Bears are still playing into late March.

To some of you I just can't take it anymore. You've finally pushed me too far! By "you," I mean the UMaine hockey "fans" who want to see nothing more than Tim Whitehead fail and be fired, as though the program would be better off if that happened.

The Black Bears won their playoff set with Merrimack, which most likely punched their ticket to the NCAA's that weekend, and what was the reaction? Instead of "GO BLUE!! We're back in the NCAA's!! We're off to Boston!" it was primarily, "Someone check Whitehead for a pulse. He has no passion. He has no fire. He's not engaged. I don't think he cares."

They play for the Hockey East Title, lose to a scalding-hot Boston College team, get their official NCAA invite and, while most of you are properly excited, I still see these comments on the social networking sites:

'Timmy's got to go, and tonight we saw why'

'Uninspiring coach...'

'They need to get better recruits...'

'Why are we so happy with 2nd place...'

That banging sound you hear is my head hitting the desk.

Does it register to you that their conference win total has gone up three straight years? Does it register that the Black Bears are one rung post away from back-to-back NCAA trips in this new NHL talent-raid era, and despite more "big school" competition for their recruits? Does it register that Spencer Abbott has made it three straight years with a Hobey Baker finalist, despite your claim that the team 'needs better recruits'?

Neither Abbott nor Flynn got a ton of interest around the nation. This coaching crew found them. They do recognize talent.

Look, we can all agree the NCAA landscape has changed in the last decade. This coaching staff has different rules to play by. I remember 42-1-2 quite well, but if that coaching staff had to deal with today's salary rules, it would never happen. Decent chance that Snow, Dunham, Imes, Montgomery and maybe Ingraham are all at least in the IHL. Kariya would've played Major Junior Hockey if he didn't jump straight to the pros. Rip that talent away, and how do they do? How about .500 or worse, because that's what they were the year before, and the year after.

Then there's the whole 'probation' thing, something that hasn't happened in 11 seasons on Whitehead's watch. But we won't discuss that.

Back to my point there are new rules. Major change happened in the last decade, and UMaine had to change with it. They didn't do a very good job at first, and went to the bottom of the conference. I'll man up and admit that.

However, they changed assistants and the talent is recovering. The program is recovering. You need to man up and admit they're getting close to being a perennial top-10 program in the NCAA again.

But I suppose you don't have to listen to any of this, because Tim doesn't stand on the dashers and that's all that matters.

You say, "Tim Whitehead has to go." I say you don't know what's good for UMaine Hockey.


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