With Ron Wilson the latest to be axed, there really is a nice crop of UFA coaches on the market. Toronto, San Jose, Colorado, Ottawa, Atlanta and Florida all need coaches, while Vancouver, Carolina and Tampa Bay all still could make coaching changes before the beginning of next season. If ever you were going to hire a new coach, now is the time, as the coaching coaching available is amazing.
The most interesting part of the these coaches to me is how I realised I view some of the available coaches. I still picture Ron Wilson coaching the Caps, I still Paul Maurice coaching the Hurricanes, Laviollette coachings the Isles, Burns coaching the Bruins, and Quennville coaching the Blues. I don't have to go back too far for these things to be current, which just shows how often coaching decisions are made. Most of the mentioned are likely to find work before next season, while Laviollette may get to keep his job with the Canes'. If I'm a team looking for a coach, I act fast.
The best coach available is said to be Quennville, followed by Burns. The Leafs, Sharks and Senators all have to have serious interest in these two guys. After them, you have what I call the second tier guys: Wilson, Quinn, Torterella (who I believe will be fired and replaced by Barry Melorse soonish), Maurice and Hartley. Then you have your wild cards in DeBoer of the OHL's rangers, and Buffalo's all-star farm-team coach Cunneyworth, who I still think has a very good chance going to Ottawa, though they will likely go for someone with more NHL experience. None of these guys are bad choices, and they all have possible shots at getting hired.
Lets get out my crystal ball, and see what I can predict...
Quennville to Toronto, if they can get a GM in place before he panics and signs with someone else. It was a mutual decision for him to leave Colorado, and part of that is because he's interested in the Leafs' job.
Burns to Ottawa, because they failed with Paddock, and need someone with experience to take over.
DeBoer to Florida, I know he's talked to an American team about a coaching job, and at the time Florida was the only one with a vacant spot.
Cunneyworth to San Jose, he's good with young talent, and San Jose has plenty. If Buffalo is going to let him go, they'd rather it be to the Western Conference. Maybe letting San Jose talk to Cunneyworth will be part of Brian Campbell coming back to Buffalo.
Torteralla out, Melrose in for Tampa Bay, the rumours have been everywhere, hard to argue with them.
Vignault stays in Vancouver, Gillis will give him a team and see what Vignault can do with it. If he fails, he's fired, but he'll be given a chance.
Laviollette will also keep his job in Carolina, he'll be given one more shot.
Pat Quinn goes to Atlanta, I know he's interested in the job, and when he realizes he can't land any of the others (Florida is the only other job I see him having a chance at), he'll try his luck with the Thrashers.
Colorado is a tough one for me. Patrick Roy doesn't fit right now. Pat Quinn is a maybe, and they'll take a run at Pat Burns. The only coach I haven't really used up for the Avs is Paul Maurice, so I guess I'll insert him into the slot for now, but I highly douby Maurice gets a chance at the NHL level for awhile, if at all.
Email me your coaching predictions at email@example.com, or reply to the topic in the forums blog section. On Wednesday I will put them all together and post who the majority of readers feel will coach where, then we can see how many we get right!
Tomorrow could be a big news day in Leafland, as Dave Nonis will meet with the MLSE big boys. I really want a new GM to be named sooner rather than later, I am tired of talking about the Leafs, and they're my favourite team!
and one last thought, poor Dallas. Detroit has outplayed them from the start, and are looking like the team to beat. A Detroit / Pittsburgh final has me very excited already...