Rob The Hockey Guy

// A Vancouver Canucks Hockey Blog

Rob’s Big Canucks Coaching Candidates List

The search to replace AV is now more than two weeks old and judging by the rumblings from insiders like Jason Botchford from the Province, the list of candidates is starting to become a little bit clearer. It sounds like Mike Gillis may take his time with this hiring, and will be interviewing a bunch of people.

So who may be in the running? Mike Gillis confirmed that he has interviewed Dallas Eakins, Glen Gulutzan and Scott Arniel already, so lets start with them.

Already interviewed:

Dallas Eakins

NHL experience: none

AHL experience: Toronto Marlies 2009-2013

Profile: Eakins has been the most talked about coaching candidate to replace Alain Vigneault and is likely going to grab a job somewhere (it’s looking more and more like he will end up in Edmonton). He took the Marlies to the Calder Cup finals last year and has been credited with developing many of the Maple Leafs good young players like Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner. On paper, I have my doubts about what Eakins has really accomplished, given that Kadri was already a high draft pick and may have developed with someone else anyway. He also missed the playoffs 2/4 years in Toronto and was knocked out in the 2nd round this year. But subjectively, Eakins is poised to be a good NHL, judging by what people who have played for him have said. I’m not convinced that Eakins is a fit in Vancouver though because he doesn’t have any NHL coaching experience. It’s one thing to walk into a dressing room full of young players who haven’t accomplished anything, it’s another to walk into a room filled with veterans that will be harder to impress.

X-Factor: He is one of the few coaches that is on Twitter: @DallasEakins

Prediction: He’ll be the new head coach of the Edmonton Oilers

Glen Gulutzan

NHL experience: Dallas Stars (2011-2013)

AHL experience: Texas Stars (2009-2011)

Profile: A relative unknown for casual hockey fans, Gulutzan was the head coach of the Dallas Stars for the past two seasons. He missed the playoffs in both years, but didn’t have much to work with either. He was also coaching in the Pacific Division (aka the toughest division in hockey). In the AHL, he coached the Stars to the Calder Cup final in his first season and his teams were very good in the regular season.

X-Factor: A cool name? I’m reaching here… How about cool hair?

Prediction: Gulutzan will have to go back to the AHL or become an assistant coach in the NHL.

Scott Arniel

NHL experience: Columbus Blue Jackets (2010-2012)

AHL experience: Manitoba Moose (2006-2010), Chicago Wolves (2012-2013)

Profile: Arniel has been the head coach of the Canucks farm team for 5 seasons now and has NHL head coaching experience, which is often a clear path to become a team’s new NHL bench boss. Arniel’s teams were very good when he coached the Manitoba Moose, including a Calder Cup Finals appearance in 2009. He has experience coaching current Canucks Cory Schneider, Alex Edler, Jannik Hansen, Jordan Schroeder and Zack Kassian. Judge for yourself whether that is a good thing or not. Arniel’s experience in the NHL wasn’t exactly stellar. He wasn’t given much to work with in Columbus though, so maybe he gets a pass for that (especially when you consider how bad his goaltending was with Steve Mason and Mathieu Garon).

X-Factor: Coached Cory Schneider, Alex Edler, Jannik Hansen, Jordan Schroeder and Zack Kassian in the AHL

Prediction: The former Winnipeg Jet and Manitoba Moose will be the next head coach in Winnipeg when/if they fire Claude Noel.

The men they may be waiting for:

John Stevens

NHL experience: Philadelphia Flyers (2006-2010)

AHL experience: Philadelphia Phantoms (2000-2006)

Profile: John Stevens is believed by many to be the frontrunner to become the new Canucks head coach. Unfortunately Mike Gillis isn’t permitted to speak to him until the Kings are eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Stevens had some excellent years coaching the Flyers farm team, including a Calder Cup championship in 2005. He was the man behind the bench when the Flyers came back to prominence with 21 year olds Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. His best year with the Flyers was in 2008 when he took they made it to the conference finals.

On paper, Stevens just might be the best man for the job. He has been successful in the AHL and NHL and even won a Stanley Cup as an assistant coach last year with the LA Kings. Unless another head coach gets fired in the next few days/weeks, I believe Stevens will be the Canucks next head coach.

X-Factor: Stevens will likely have a good perspective on how to beat his current team (LA Kings) and some of the other Western Conference powers they have faced in these playoffs (St Louis, San Jose and Chicago).

Prediction: The next head coach of the Vancouver Canucks

Dan Bylsma

NHL experience: Pittsburgh Penguins (2008-present)

AHL experience: Wilkes-Barre (2008-2009)

Profile: Two weeks ago I didn’t dare dream that Dan Bylsma would appear on this list, but after losing in embarrassing fashion to the Boston Bruins in four straight games, he might be let go by the Penguins. If he does, Mike Gillis will likely hand him the job immediately. Bylsma is considered by many to be a great NHL head coach, but his voice might be getting stale in Pittsburgh. He won a Stanley Cup in his first year on the job, but has had limited playoff success since then. They were upset in the 2nd round of the playoffs to a ragtag group of Montreal Canadiens in 2010. In 2011, they lost in the first round (although Crosby and Malkin were both injured and didn’t play a single playoff game). In 2012, they lost in the first round to the Philadelphia Flyers and appeared to become unglued mentally. Now, after being swept in round 3 of the playoffs this could be it for Bylsma in Pittsburgh. One can dream…

X-Factor: We have seen him behind the scenes in HBO 24/7.

Prediction: He will get another chance in Pittsburgh.

Dave Tippett

NHL experience: Dallas Stars (2002-2009), Phoenix Coyotes (2009-present)

IHL experience: Houston Aeroes (1995-1999)

Profile: Tippett is currently signed with the Coyotes but there are rumours that complications with the selling of the team might cause Tippett to walk away from the Coyotes. When most people think of Dave Tippett, they think of a very smart hockey coach who can take players without much skill and make them a good team. That’s exactly what he has done in Phoenix. His playoff success has been a bit muted, but he has never had a whole lot of skill to work with. If he decides to leave Phoenix and convinces Mike Gillis that he can coach offensive minded hockey, he will be the new Canucks head coach.

X-Factor: He is a friend and former teammate of Ray Ferraro. Perhaps Ferraro would become an assistant coach with his hometown team?

Prediction: Nothing will get settled with the Phoenix ownership situation, but he’ll stay there anyway.

Veteran coaches:

John Tortorella /Lindy Ruff

By all indications from those in the know, neither one of these guys are going to get the job. They might be a little bit old school for Mike Gillis’ liking. Their resumes are extensive, but lets not get into that right now.

Under the radar:

Mike Kitchen

NHL experience: St Louis Blues (2003-2007)

AHL experience: none

NHL assistant coach experience: Toronto Maple Leafs (1990-1998), St Louis Blues (1998-2003), Florida Panthers (2007-2010), Chicago Blackhawks (2010-2013)

Profile: Mike Kitchen is a name that I haven’t heard being mentioned very much of, but he certainly has a lot of experience. He didn’t have a lot of wins with a brutal St Louis Blues team in his only head coaching gig, and perhaps that is why. Unlike most others on this list, Kitchen’s experience lies with his time as an assistant coach. He is currently Joel Quenneville’s right hand man in Chicago.

X-Factor: He has been an assistant coach under Joel Quenneville with St Louis and with Chicago.

Prediction: He will stay put in Chicago as long as Joel Quennville has a job there.

Doug Jarvis

NHL experience: none

AHL experience: Hamilton Bulldogs (2003-2005)

NHL assistant coach experience: Minnesota North Stars (1988-1993), Dallas Stars (1993-2002), Montreal Canadiens (2005-2009), Boston Bruins (2010-2013)

Profile: Doug Jarvis doesn’t have any NHL head coaching experience, but he stacks up better than most in every other way. He won four Stanley Cups as a player (playing for Scottie Bowman). As an assistant coach, he has won 2 Stanley Cups (Dallas in 1999 and Boston in 2011). Perhaps there is a reason why Jarvis hasn’t been an NHL head coach before, but I don’t see why. He’s under the radar, but he has the credentials.

X-Factor: He is the all-time NHL ironman record holder, playing all 964 career games consecutively.

Prediction: I’m guessing if he hasn’t been a head coach in the NHL yet, he probably prefers to be an assistant.

Guy Carbonneau 

NHL experience: Montreal Canadiens (2006-2009)

AHL experience: none

Profile: Guy Carbonneau is a name that you probably haven’t heard from in a while, but the former Habs head coach had some success in his 2+ seasons in Montreal. The Canadiens were the best team in the Eastern Conference in 2007-08 when Carbonneau was in charge. He was largely blamed for not keeping his players in line (probably unfairly) because he was the head coach during the Montreal party boys era.

X-Factor: He is a three time Selke Trophy winner

Prediction: Carbonneau will get another chance in the NHL, if he wants it, but may have to pay his dues in the AHL first.

Whoever the Canucks decide to pick, they will be on the hot seat. Regular season success won’t be enough to satisfy fans and management for long. The Canucks still have a good team, but Vancouver is a pressure packed market and a new head coach will have to be ready for it.

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