The List of Possible Head Coaches


With the season finally over, it seems inevitable that Craig MacTavish will be dismissed or resign from his position as an NHL head coach. The question that most fans have been wondering for the last few weeks is who exactly will replace him.

With that in mind, I’ve taken the liberty of drawing up a list of 40 or so names who I’ve either seen mentioned in the context of this particular job, or discussed as candidates for NHL coaching jobs in the past. Because it’s such a long list, I’ve boiled every candidate down to a one-sentence summary and ranked him in one of three categories: short list, long list, shouldn’t be seriously considered.

If there are any names that you’d like to see included, let me know and I’ll be happy to add them.

Short List

Scott Arniel – The AHL Coach of the Year has never had a losing season.
Guy Carbonneau – Fired Canadiens’ head coach is used to coaching in a pressure cooker.
Kevin Constantine – Houston Aeros’ head coach has been successful everywhere – including in the NHL and has a reputation as something of a task master.
Peter Laviolette – Has won championships in the AHL and NHL; he’s not a favourite of mine but there’s no doubt that he’s been successful.
Jacques Lemaire – Minnesota’s head coach has decided he’s finished with the Wild, but I t remains to be seen if he’s finished with the NHL.
Don Lever – Canadiens’ assistant coach has been very successful in the AHL and has spent 15 seasons as an NHL assistant.
Paul MacLean – Mike Babcock’s long-time assistant has had NHL success but was also a first-rate minor league head coach for 8 years.
Tom Renney – Successful everywhere he’s coached (WHL, Intl., NHL), Tom Renney will land another NHL job and might be a nice change from MacTavish.
Brent Sutter – New Jersey’s head coach has been successful everywhere, and is supposedly home sick for Alberta.

Long List

Newell Brown – An assistant coach in Anaheim, Brown has tons of experience as an NHL assistant and was a decent AHL coach.
Marc Crawford – Crawford was a very good AHL coach and has a very good career record in the NHL.
Randy Cunneyworth – Currently an assistant in Atlanta, Cunneyworth was a decent AHL head coach for many years.
Willie Desjardins – Very successful WHL coach has won two championships.
Kevin Dineen – Has a very good track record as an AHL head coach.
Marc Habscheid – Has been very successful in the WHL.
Bob Hartley – Has had success at every level, including championships in the AHL and NHL.
Dale Hunter – Has been the driving force behind a very good London Knights squad for years, should get an NHL shot at some point.
Dave Farrish – A good AHL coach and phenomenal ECHL coach, Farrish has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach in Anaheim.
Greg Gilbert – Has had a mixed track record in the AHL and didn’t see much success in Calgary.
Glen Hanlon – Bruce Boudreau’s predecessor in Washington has had a mixed track record in the AHL and had a good season as Jokerit’s head coach this year.
Don Hay – An incredibly successful junior coach, Hay has had mixed success in the professional ranks.
Charlie Huddy – Huddy’s had previous experience as a head coach (a very nice year in the ECHL) and been an NHL assistant coach for 10 seasons, and has had some success developing defensemen.
Dave King – Two-time NHL head coach has had success recently in Europe, and did a good job in both of his previous NHL stops.
Kevin Lowe – The Oilers’ President of Hockey Operations probably doesn’t want the job, but had a decent season in Edmonton before being promoted to G.M.
Ted Nolan – Has had success on the ice everywhere he’s coached, but has also alienated general managers.
Pat Quinn – A very successful career coach with two appearances in the Stanley Cup finals, at 66 Quinn isn’t a long-term solution.
Craig Ramsay – The long time assistant coach had one very good regular season in Philadelhpia but lost his job when the team couldn’t get out of the first round.
Todd Richards – A very successful AHL head coach, Richards is currently an assistant in San Jose.
Larry Robinson – He’s been to the finals twice and has a decent record in the NHL regular season.
Denis Savard – Was fired four games into the season despite a decent track record in Chicago.
Jim Scheonfeld – A very capable coach in both the NHL and AHL, it seems likely that he’s content to serve as an Assistant G.M. in New York.

Shouldn’t Be Seriously Considered

Kelly Buchberger – One season as an AHL head coach with a losing record and one season as an NHL assistant coach with a losing record does not inspire confidence.
Rob Daum – A good career coach in many leagues, Daum has yet to prove that he can be a consistently successful AHL coach.
Kelly Kisio – Calgary’s WHL coach, Kisio’s had teams with good records his entire career, but has never coached in the professional leagues.
Mike Kitchen – Career assistant was a failure as the St, Louis Blues’ head coach.
Mark Lamb – Former Oilers’ assistant has spent the past six seasons on Dave Tippett’s staff in Dallas, but has never been a head coach.
Mark Messier – Hiring an NHL head coach with no coaching experience seems like a bad decision.
Bill Moores – Moores has coached all over (including a very successful season in the WHL and time in Japan) and has a wealth of experience as an NHL assistant coach.
John Paddock – Paddock has been a good AHL coach for many years, but his teams have imploded in two separate NHL stints.
Craig Simpson – Simpson spent three seasons as the man in charge of Edmonton’s special teams, with mixed results – a great penalty kill and a poor powerplay.
Matt Thomas – Has had excellent results in the ECHL, sparking a turn around in Stockton, but should probably be tested in the AHL first.
John Torchetti – Blackhawks assistant coach has an inconsistent track record.
Geoff Ward – The former Roadrunners coach recently jumped to the NHL as one of Claude Julien’s assistants, but has a middling track record in junior and the minors.