Executives weigh in on four coaching searches
Inside Pittsburgh Sports polled three NHL executives Wednesday on the four coaching searches and here are the results of the poll & some buzz for each team:
Vancouver Canucks – Willie Desjardins (3)
Buzz: All three executives predicted Texas Stars AHL coach Willie Desjardins will be the guy in Vancouver. John Stevens is expected to be in contention, while all three executives were in agreement in that they don’t believe Dan Bylsma is a top contender for the job. One believes he will interview, though, if he doesn’t get the Panthers job.
Florida Panthers – Ron Wilson (2), Dan Bylsma (1)
Buzz: Dale Tallon revealed to reporters at the GM meetings that six candidates are in the mix for the job. Dan Bylsma, Ron Wilson, Gerard Gallant, Marc Crawford, Bill Peters and Tom Renney. The chatter in league circles the past couple days pegs Ron Wilson and Dan Bylsma being the front runners and that was the consensus in our poll. Ron Wilson received two votes, while Bylsma received one. Bylsma eyes the Panthers job over other potential ones (not a top candidate in Carolina or Vancouver) and I’d lean in his direction to get the job, though, Wilson appears to be a serious candidate along with Gerard Gallant who two executives felt was a darkhorse. He’s someone to watch here.
Carolina Hurricanes – Kevin Dineen (1), John Stevens (1), Ulf Samuelsson (1)
Buzz: Unlike Florida and Vancouver, there was no consensus in Carolina. Kevin Dineen, John Stevens and Ulf Samuelsson each received a vote. One executive who did not pick Samuelsson, said he’s of the understanding that Samuelsson is the coach Ron Francis wants but predicts Samuelsson stays with the Rangers where he is very comfortable.
Pittsburgh – Mike Keenan (1), John Hynes (1), John Stevens (1)
Buzz: Like Carolina, there was no consensus which isn’t a surprise at this point. One of the executives, though, dropped a bombshell, saying Mike Keenan is a “discussion” for the Penguins and went as far to predict he will be the next coach. “Jimmy is intrigued…..I think he goes for it,” the exec said. The Penguins are eyeing a coach on a short-term deal, believed to be two years, and there is lots of internal debate of the need to have a coach that can grab the players attention from day 1.
Will it get past the discussion phase and would an ownership group that caters to Sidney Crosby really gamble on Keenan? Probably not. Just can’t see it but there is some smoke there right now.
John Hynes received one vote and there is a sense around the league that Hynes is going to get a strong look. Penguins officials see him as a John Cooper, can’t miss type of coach, but if they were to go the Hynes route, here’s where Rick Tocchet could make some sense as assistant coach.
The Penguins intend to talk to John Stevens after the Stanley Cup Final and he received one vote as the Penguins next coach. None of the executives are buying the Ulf Samuelsson hype mainly due to his son being in the organization and the thinking Samuelsson will be lukewarm because of that. However, we hear there is some level of interest from the Penguins, including ownership, and it’s expected the Penguins will also reach out to Samuelsson after the finals.
Pittsburgh is interested in talking to Jeff Daniels, Rod Brind’Amour about their head coaching position, a source confirmed this week, and it’s believed Kevin Dineen could garner consideration for the job.
Jim Rutherford is telling anyone who will listen this is going to be his hire. Guy Boucher had been among the candidates ownership discussed prior to the Rutherford hiring.