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Insider Only A look at potential head coach candidates and some with close ties to Rutherford

The Penguins coaching search under GM Jim Rutherford will not fully take off until Mid-June. Rutherford does not plan to conduct in-person interviews until the week of June 16th and there is clear interest from the Penguins in talking to some coaches who are still coaching in the Stanley Cup Final.
Some intell I’ve been able to gather on Rutherford is that he has often has been drawn to a coach he has a past relationship with and feels he got burned by the Kirk Mueller hiring when he went with more of a gut feeling on that hire.
Among the burning questions, will Rutherford venture towards someone he knows very well and how much influence will ownership have on the hire as Penguins had been discussing potential candidates internally before they even hired a GM. Will this actually be Rutherford’s hiring? Rutherford said Friday “I’m hiring the guy.”
Many of Rutherford’s previous head coaches are already locked up with other jobs.
If Peter Laviolette would have waited things out, he would have been a clear front runner for the job and many believe the same with Paul Maurice if he would have held up on committing to the Jets, Rutherford would have been looking for another go around with him.
Here are some potential candidates with ties to Rutherford:
John Stevens, LA Kings Assistant Coach – He’s a coach league executives feel is a perfect fit in Pittsburgh but does Rutherford see him that way? He’s a candidate who would have been at the top of Pierre McGuire’s shortlist, close associates of McGuire’s say of Stevens. He’s coached in a pressure situation in the past in Philadelphia and was successful, and has been coaching under one of the best coaches in the NHL the last three years. He’s going to be a top candidate in Vancouver.
Ulf Samuelsson, New York Rangers Assistant Coach – The Penguins will talk to Samuelsson after the Stanley Cup Finals as Penguins ownership has been interested in him for weeks and Samuelsson is widely believed to be on Rutherford’s shortlist. Samuelsson is a top candidate for the Hurricanes job. He has head coaching experience in Europe and the Penguins feel he would command immediate respect in the room.
Kevin Dineen – Former Florida Panthers coach, led Florida to a post-season berth in 2010-2011. Was fired earlier this past season by the Panthers. Played under Jim Rutherford in Hartford/Carolina and is said to be close to Hurricanes ownership and Rutherford. He’s a name I’m hearing already that is likely to garner consideration. Dineen is a big believer in a puck possession system, something the Penguins want to adopt.
Jeff Daniels, Charlotte Checkers Head Coach – Spent past 17 seasons as player and coach in Hurricanes organization and has close ties to Rutherford and someone Mario Lemieux is familiar with. A former Penguins draft pick in 1986, had his name inscribed on 1992 Cup, was a regular in Penguins lineup during 1993-1994 season. Daniels won a Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the Hurricanes in 2006.
Bob Boughner, Windsor Spitfires – Many believe the Penguins have to go with an experienced coach, but if you’re looking for a name to come out of nowhere, NHL sources say former Penguins and Hurricanes rugged defenseman Bob Boughner is someone Rutherford thinks very highly of and had been trying to get him to join the Hurricanes for years as a prominent assistant coach and was interested in him as a head coach candidate in the past. Boughner spent one season with the Blue Jackets before going back to coach juniors in 2011-2012 where he also owns the Spitfires. “He coaches how he played,” a source said of Boughner. “A great teacher. It’s going to take the right opportunity for him to go back to the NHL.”

Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes Assistant Coach – Up and coming head coach candidate, spent last three seasons on Hurricanes staff.
Here are some names we’ve heard Penguins ownership has discussed prior to the Rutherford hiring:
Guy Boucher, Switzerland – Based on a push and recommendation from Pat Brisson, mostly because of his close ties to Crosby, Penguins ownership had been looking into Guy Boucher for weeks. Boucher is very interested in the job. Here’s where we’ll find out how much influence Rutherford has if Boucher becomes a leading candidate.
Tom Renney, Red Wings Assistant Coach – Lots of experience, has worked under Mike Babcock, the Penguins dream candidate, the last two years.
Marc Crawford, SC Lions, (Switzerland) – Has a history of handling super stars. Penguins had previously done some homework on him, sources say. Not clear if he will be a candidate. Is in the running for the Florida and Vancouver job.
Ron Wilson, unemployed – The highly respected Scott Burnside and Craig Custance have both thrown Wilson’s name out there…..He’d be a disaster.
Rick Tocchet – The Tocchet talk has been more media driven than legit but he has very strong interest in joining the organization in some capacity as a coach. He is in talks with Toronto.
*** It remains to be seen if Willie Desjardins, Texas Stars (AHL) coach will get a strong look from the Penguins. He’s a coach highly regarded in the AHL. Same with John Hynes who I believe some from the Shero regime will be pushing for.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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