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NHL coach and GM carousel: Who's hired, what's open

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Published in Hockey
Wednesday, 01 May 2019 09:10

As the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs roll on, the business of hockey continues with the teams that finished out of the money. Some of them have found new head coaches. Some of them are still looking. One needs a general manager. Two just kicked their GMs upstairs to add to (or maintain) their brain trust.

Here's a look the vacancies and the recently filled jobs in the NHL, and what we're hearing about them.

Filled coaching jobs

Florida Panthers

Former coach: Bob Boughner
New coach: Joel Quenneville

Analysis: What a coup for the Cats. The second-winningest coach in NHL history behind Scotty Bowman, and the winner of three Stanley Cups, Quenneville was captivated by living in South Florida -- golf, horse racing and Dale Tallon, the guy who hired him in Chicago and is the current Panthers GM. The multiyear deal pays him around $6 million annually, and it's hard not to think it's a solid investment: Quenneville has missed the playoffs only three times in coaching 1,636 career games.

His presence makes the Panthers a potential player destination (hello, Artemi Panarin) and gives the franchise a legitimacy it has lacked for decades. Greg Cote of the Miami Herald called him, "the most accomplished man and proven winner in his profession to join a local team since the Heat got Pat Riley in 1995."

News story: Panthers move fast, hire Quenneville as coach

Los Angeles Kings

Former coach: Willie Desjardins
New coach: Todd McLellan

Analysis: GM Rob Blake convinced his former coach in San Jose to take over the Kings with an "extensive" plan to get back on a path to success ... which will probably have more to do with Blake flipping the aged roster into something younger than it does McLellan's coaching, but we digress. The interesting phrase that McLellan used in his introductory news conference was owing the fans "entertainment value," which one assumes means the Kings might get a more offensive style for the first time in nearly a decade.

News story: McLellan agrees to multiyear deal to coach Kings

Philadelphia Flyers

Former coach: Scott Gordon
New coach: Alain Vigneault

Analysis: A "win now" move for both the franchise and the former New York Rangers coach, who signed on because he thinks the Flyers are close. "On my bucket list, I need one more thing: I need to win a Stanley Cup. I've come close twice," Vigneault said when he was hired. "When I look at and analyze the parts we have here in Philly, when I look at and analyze the options that we have in improving this team, it gets a check mark from me."

If nothing else, Vigneault takes over a team with a star in his prime (Claude Giroux), several good young players (including goalie Carter Hart), around $30 million in cap space next summer and, of course, Gritty.

News story: Flyers announce Vigneault as team's new coach

Open coaching jobs

Anaheim Ducks

Former coach: Bob Murray

Rumor 'n' innuendo: True to form, Murray is playing it close to the vest for his next head coach. (Please recall Murray took over behind the Ducks' bench after firing Randy Carlyle this season but has no interest in returning as head coach.) We know he's looking for a coach who can connect with younger players. Dallas Eakins has been impressive as head coach of San Diego Gulls in the AHL, as they advanced to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs. There are a lot of dots that connect with Eakins, but we've been told he's not a slam dunk.

One wonders if AHL coaches Pascal Vincent (Manitoba) or Mike Vellucci (Charlotte) could get a look. If it's a former NHL bench boss, Mike Yeo has interviewed with Murray before. The wild card: Rikard Gronborg, the Swedish national team coach. He has coached Hampus Lindholm, Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell before, and he's itching to come to the NHL.

Buffalo Sabres

Former coach: Phil Housley

Rumor 'n' innuendo: It's no secret GM Jason Botterill is seeking a bench boss with head NHL coaching experience after previously hiring a former assistant in Housley. Alas, some of the bigger names already hopped off the coaching carousel, but two familiar names have interviewed with the Sabres: Dave Tippett, the former Arizona Coyotes coach who apparently still has the itch (or was informed what his role, or lack thereof, in Seattle was to be); and Jacques Martin, the former Senators and Panthers head coach whom Botterill has a connection with through their days in Pittsburgh together.

Lightning assistant Todd Richards, another Pittsburgh connection, was the former head coach of the Wild and Blue Jackets. Chris Taylor, head coach at AHL Rochester, could be in the mix. Gronborg and Botterill are expected to connect during the upcoming IIHF world championship.

Edmonton Oilers

Former/current coach: Ken Hitchcock

Rumor 'n' innuendo: There's still a chance the next general manager of the Oilers asks Hitch to hang around as head coach, and that Hitch accepts the offer. But most likely, it'll be a new face with some history with the new GM. It would be the eighth coach in 11 years for the Oilers, which we guess is consistency, in a weird way.

Ottawa Senators

Former/current coach: Marc Crawford

Rumor 'n' innuendo: Crawford went 7-10-1 as interim head coach for Ottawa, which was good enough to put in consideration for the gig. Jacques Martin, who coached there for nine seasons, is in the mix as is Belleville Senators coach Troy Mann (although speculation is he could be elevated as an assistant coach). According to Sportsnet, Ottawa has asked Toronto for permission to speak to assistant coach D.J. Smith. From the college hockey ranks, Providence coach Nate Leaman is under consideration.

But the rising star might be Brad Shaw, an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has a great reputation as coach of defensemen and instructed the Jackets' league-best penalty kill. He was also interviewed by Sens GM Pierre Dorion in 2016 before they hired Guy Boucher. Oh, and he was the alternate captain of the 1992 expansion Senators, too.

Filled GM jobs

Detroit Red Wings

Former GM: Ken Holland
New GM: Steve Yzerman

Analysis: From the moment he stepped away from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the speculation was that Yzerman would ride in and replace Holland, so this was no surprise. Holland remains the senior vice president of hockey operations -- for now -- while Yzerman takes over as general manager. To no one's surprise, Yzerman preached patience as the Red Wings go young and build through the draft. To the surprise of many, he not only said he'd honor coach Jeff Blashill's two-year contract extension but offered vocal support for the coach.

News story: Stevie GM: Wings tab Yzerman to replace Holland

Vegas Golden Knights

Former GM: George McPhee
New GM: Kelly McCrimmon

Analysis: What, you didn't realize the Golden Knights needed a new general manager? McPhee did, apparently. He started formulating a plan to "keep the band together" in Vegas, fully knowing that opportunities would present themselves to highly regarded assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon this offseason. His solution? To remain atop the Golden Knights' player personnel chain of command as president of hockey operations, with McCrimmon moving up to general manager.

The two will continue their "co-managing" setup that has been in place since McCrimmon was hired. Most importantly, it keeps an instantly successful brain trust together for a franchise that's just a piece or two away from another trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

"I don't know if I would have done this for anyone else. But it's easy to do when it's the right thing. This was the right thing for the Golden Knights. I'm proud to do this. Kelly's going to be terrific at it. And we just keep rolling along here," McPhee said.

News story: Golden Knights elevate McCrimmon to GM role

Open GM jobs

Edmonton Oilers

Former/current GM: Keith Gretzky

Rumor 'n' innuendo: You didn't need an electron microscope to read between the lines at the Golden Knights' news conference. The Oilers were asking about McCrimmon, and the opportunity was such that George McPhee bumped himself upstairs to keep the Vegas brain trust together. So where does that leave the Oilers, as their search narrows?

According to TSN's Ryan Rishaug, interim GM Keith Gretzky and former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Mark Hunter are down to the wire for the opening, with former Team Canada GM Sean Burke also in the mix. There's still a chance Holland could be convinced to take over the Oilers, but that's a long shot at this point. Gretzky has cultivated a lot of support from the local punditry in Edmonton. Also, his name is Keith Gretzky.

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