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University of Maine and New York Islanders Coaches

Summer, summer scuttlebutt.

The only appropriate reaction to hearing Paul Maclean called a last-minute timeout in a blowout.
The only appropriate reaction to hearing Paul Maclean called a last-minute timeout in a blowout.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There is a coaching search underway right now that has nothing to do with the New York Islanders, yet the location of this search has at least tangentially drawn them in.

The University of Maine has been without a head coach since firing Tim Whitehead in April and naming associate coach Bob Corkum as interim coach. Maine, many Islanders fans recognize, is the alma mater of three particularly important people steering the Islanders and their young players: General manager Garth Snow, head coach Jack Capuano and Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Scott Pellerin.

For the Maine opening, the Islanders-related scuttlebutt began in April, when Pellerin's name was mentioned in media as a candidate but Pellerin wouldn't comment.

There has been nothing concrete naming Pellerin as a finalist for the job, but pretty much any former Black Bear currently behind a bench has had his name surface.

Including Jack Capuano.

The latest local report from the Bangor Daily News mentions neither Capuano nor Pellerin, though the university is not exactly naming names. Maine says it expects to have one secured by next week, is interviewing more candidates, but will not acknowledge specific candidates because many are in current jobs. The Bangor paper has the following candidates:

... reliable sources in the hockey community have indicated the frontrunners include University of New Hampshire assistant coach and former Colby College head coach Jim Tortorella, former Black Bear and University of Massachusetts assistant and current Yale University assistant Dennis "Red" Gendron, Maine associate head coach and Black Bears interim head coach Bob Corkum, and Mark Osiecki, former University of Wisconsin assistant, who was recently fired as the head coach at Ohio State after three seasons.

... but of course there could be more.

Completely coincidentally (Of course? Of course.), Jack Capuano was named to the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame earlier this month.

And readers here brought this up in the morning LHH thread: A College Hockey News column (which, fair warning to Islanders diehards, reads a bit like a message board "cheap SnoWang!!1" piece ripping the Islanders' frugality), says "according to two sources, there have been overtures made" from Maine to the Islanders about Capuano.

You Be Capuano

The Islanders are always mum on the contract status of their coaches, but Capuano is widely believed to have finished a contract this season. So put yourself in his position, if indeed the alma mater came asking:

He's in an interesting spot. He's survived the worst and his NHL team is on the rise, so he theoretically can command an extension and a raise -- something few would have predicted in January -- but also his position is not one of perfectly solid ground. (It almost never is in the NHL, but...)

The Islanders coaching staff had this team "humming," as the players say, by the final third of the season. But it's also a staff with two assistants who were suggested if not outright picked for Capuano.

Meanwhile, NHL coaching jobs are inherently unsafe, and a step backwards after the team raised expectations in 2013 would be disastrous for Capuano. An eighth seed this past season, the bar is now set there as the minimum for 2013-14. The team was healthy in 2013. What if the injury scourge returns, or the goaltending further underwhelms?

Meanwhile, NCAA hockey jobs are ... well they're not cushy exactly, but they often end up being long term. A New Englander leading the good life at his alma mater could sound enticing versus the instability of the NHL, where even Jack Adams award winners are a fluke- or injury-aided losing streak away from suddenly acquiring an expiration date.

On the other hand, Capuano is in the very position he has toiled so many years to secure: Leading a team that is only expected to get better, carving out respect for the club and his work around the league, at a point where the latter two help his bargaining position.

It's all a matter of one's aspirations, one's aversion to risk and tolerance for job-forced relocations ... and of course whether one even gets an offer to mull.

There's no indication that has happened, but regardless Maine fans should know soon. And it's summer for hockey, so we can ask ourselves: What would you do if you had a hand in any of these decisions?