LEWISTON — Thursday, Jeff Guay heard the crunching and crackling of ice and snow under his boots as he worked with a friend to clear sidelwalks and driveways of Mother Nature’s latest wintery blast.

Friday morning, Guay will hear more crunching ice beneath his feet. This time, he’ll be wearing skates, and he’ll be back in familiar surroundings.

Thursday night, with the Lewiston Maineiacs mired in their worst losing streak since moving from Sherbrooke seven seasons ago, Guay learned he’d been named the team’s fifth head coach, on an interim basis.

“It’s a good opportunity for me, and I’d like to thank (Maineiacs’ CEO and owner) Mark (Just) for having faith and trust in me,” Guay said. “There’s some things going on right now, and it’s too bad in this business. You’re hired to be fired.”

“He’s a guy I trust, and the kids like him and have had him in the past,” Just said. “He’s a guy who we believe can be a part of our organization in some capacity going forward. There will be a role for him here.”

That role will likely not be as the team’s head coach for long, though. Just said he intends to hire a full-time replacement by the time the team begins play after the holiday break, on December 27 at Victoriaville.

“When I made up my mind that I needed a change here, people started calling about being a coach here,” Just said. “I’ve spoken to people this week, I have amazing candidates and I’m hoping that Jeff … will be interim for the next three games, and we’ll have a full-time head coach by the time we play Victoriaville.”

Guay was an assistant coach with the Maineiacs from 2003 through the end of last season, and took time off this summer and fall for personal reasons.

“I think I was a little burned out after six years,” Guay said. “It was a grueling six years but the break did me some good and I’m ready to get back into it and get my hands dirty, and I’m ready to go.”

When Guay left the team, longtime friend Jamie Dumont was hired as the team’s assistant alongside president and head coach Don MacAdam. Guay’s arrival also means Dumont’s departure.

“He was successful overseas and I know him well,” Guay said of Dumont. “I can’t speak to how it’s gone here over the last few months, but I’m hoping he can find something else soon and get on board somewhere.”

Guay, meanwhile, recognizes that his title remains interim head coach. And he’s just fine with that.

“Starting tomorrow morning, I’m back to where I want to be,” Guay said.

The first few things Guay said he wants to change are the team’s systems.

“There’s a lot of system-wise things I’m not seeing right now, and I think I can definitely bring some systems to the team right away,” Guay said.

Guay’s assistant, Tim Schurman, came on board with the team this summer as a scout under GM and head scout Roger Shannon. Guay said Thursday he’s never worked with Schurman, but he’s happy to have him on board.

“I’ve heard some good things, but I haven’t sat down with him yet,” Guay said.

First things first, though, Guay said, let’s fix the team on the ice.

“I think with the systems I can help bring to the team, we can help limit shots and get the puck out of the zone quickly, that’s what we want to focus on.” 

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