LEWISTON — The search went on for what many die-hard fans called “an eternity.”

Applicants for the job of head coach and general manager of the Lewiston Maineiacs sent, faxed and hand-delivered resumes, letters of intent and lists of experience over a period of four weeks.

After all that, Ed Harding, the applicant who traveled the shortest distance to deliver any of that information — and the most familiar to the players and staff — has earned the title.

According to a source within the Maineiacs’ organization who wished to remain unnamed, Ed Harding will be the team’s new coach and general manager this morning.

“We’re very close to naming a coach,” Maineiacs’ President and Governor Matt McKnight said Thursday. McKnight would not elaborate.

Harding declined comment, as well, though he was in the office for most of the day, and Maineiacs’ majority owner Mark Just could not be reached.

Harding would be the team’s third head coach in five years, but has been the team’s assistant coach since the franchise moved to Lewiston from Sherbrooke, Quebec, in 2003. Two years ago, Harding was also named assistant general manager.

Originally from Cumberland, Harding has coached many teams at various levels. He began with Greely High School of Cumberland in 1989 after finishing his playing days with the Johnstown Chiefs.

From there, Harding became an assistant at the University of Southern Maine, where he stayed for three years. He moved on to the Flagstaff Mountaineers of the Western States Junior Hockey League as the head coach and GM, and then returned to Maine for one season as a volunteer assistant with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.

In 1999-2000, Harding was an assistant with the Arkansas Riverblades, and in 2001, he took over the head job with the Tulsa Crude of the United States Hockey League.

Mario Durocher guided the team to a 33-31-5-1 record in 2003-04, and the team lost in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs that season to Rouyn-Noranda.

Clem Jodoin, who resigned four weeks ago, was 118-67 with 25 ties or losses in overtime or shootouts over three years. Jodoin also led the team to its first President’s Cup win last season, and took the team to the Memorial Cup. He resigned less than one week after the team returned, citing a need to spend more time with his family.

In the games Jodoin and Durocher had to miss during their respective time with the Maineiacs, Harding’s head coaching record was 18-11-1-1.

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