LIST OF CANDIDATES SURFACING FOR PENGUINS
*With a top priority said to being a candidate who can command respect in the room from day 1, Marc Crawford, Ron Wilson and Tom Renney are among a group of veteran experienced coaches the Penguins are looking at. GM Jim Rutherford met with Ron Wilson today and Marc Crawford will interview with the team tomorrow, sources say.
*John Hynes and Detroit’s Billy Peters are among a small group of inexperienced coaches Pittsburgh has interviewed or plans to interview. It won’t be a surprise if AHL Willie Desjardins interviews as early as Wednesday or Thursday.
*Pittsburgh has asked for permission to interview Los Angeles Kings assistant John Stevens and are interested in New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson. An NHL official confirmed that as of 5:00 p.m. ET, the Kings had not granted Pittsburgh permission to talk to Stevens. Word today again was Stevens had not committed yet to interviewing for any jobs. Stevens is unlikely to interview, Penguins officials feel.
*Things are dead quite on coaches who have close ties with GM Jim Rutherford. That group includes Kevin Dineen, Jeff Daniels and Rod Brind’Amour.
SAMUELSSON A WILDCARD IN EARLY STAGES
The Penguins are certainly intrigued and interested in Ulf Samuelsson, who team officials feel would command respect in the room from day 1, but the question right now in team circles is whether Samuelsson will seek the job.
Although he will interview with the Carolina Hurricanes, as of Tuesday afternoon, Samuelsson had yet to make his intentions known whether he will interview with the Penguins, multiple sources said. Word from the Samuelsson camp and close associates of Samuelsson’s over the past couple days is the conflict of his son Philip being in the organization has had Ulf said to be lukewarm about the possibility of coaching in Pittsburgh due to the sensitive nature of coaching his son at the NHL level.
Philip, an RFA this summer, was the Penguins second round pick in 2009. He is pushing for NHL time and will be subject to waivers next season.
I expect Ulf to at least talk to the Penguins and hear them out but up in the air whether he will go after the job.
Meanwhile, the Penguins remain in wait and see mode with Stevens, a candidate very high on their list, as it’s expected they’ll learn by Wednesday whether permission will be granted to talk to Stevens and whether he wants to interview for the job. However, the expectation in team circles is that Stevens will not interview with the team.
Stevens is very comfortable in Los Angeles and the Kings are making an attempt to make him the highest paid assistant coach in the NHL with a salary pushing $800,000 per season, a league source says. The Kings have given Stevens verbal assurances he is their next coach in waiting but that is always dicey for coaches in sports and rarely should they believe it.
Just ask Steelers LB’s coach Keith Butler who will be getting his social security check before Dick LeBeau steps down.
Samuelsson and Stevens both could hold the keys on where this search is headed in the next couple days.