All signs point to Randy Carlyle becoming the next head coach of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
The Vancouver Canucks finally relented late Monday night and granted the Mighty Ducks permission to speak to Carlyle about the vacancy created when Mike Babcock turned down a one-year contract extension to become the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.
Carlyle and the Mighty Ducks appeared to be getting into serious discussions yesterday, though an official announcement is not expected until next week.
"I've always stated that I had a high level of interest (in becoming an NHL head coach). It has intensified," Carlyle told the Orange County Register yesterday. "In my mind, none of this, having the opportunity to talk to somebody about a head-coaching situation, is possible without the support of the people in Vancouver. I owe them. Their time has been consumed with a lot of things lately."
Carlyle is coming off an outstanding season that saw him guide the Manitoba Moose to their second-best record during the regular season and the longest playoff run in franchise history.
More importantly, Carlyle is an old-school, fire-and-brimstone type who utilized a puck-pursuit, in-your-face system that new Mighty Ducks general manager Brian Burke wants to see implemented by the Mighty Ducks next season.
"I want a coach who will play Mighty Ducks hockey, which is up-tempo hockey, with an activated defence, banging in all three zones -- the type of hockey that I have been talking about (all along)," Burke said during a conference call yesterday. "I want a coach who brings intensity to his team. I want a guy who's as intense as I am."
No question Carlyle fits the criteria there.
Burke re-iterated he is in no rush to make the decision and that the announcement isn't expected to be made until after the NHL entry draft, slated for Saturday in Ottawa.
"All we have is permission. We don't know if we will be able to close the deal with that individual," said Burke. "We're going to stop the (interview) process right now and see how it plays out."
Upon his return to the Moose last summer after spending two seasons as an assistant with the Washington Capitals, Carlyle said it was his goal to return to the National Hockey League as a head coach.
He took a giant leap forward as the Moose went 44-26-3-7 and recorded 98 points, which left the team third in the North Division of the American Hockey League.
In the post-season, the Moose knocked off the St. John's Maple Leafs in five games, then ousted the regular season champion Rochester Americans in five games to advance to the Western Conference final.
Although the Moose were swept by the Chicago Wolves, it could not take away from the great strides the Moose made under Carlyle last season.
Other candidates for the job were reported to be Canucks assistant coach Mike Johnston and Philadelphia Phantoms head coach John Stevens.
Carlyle, 49, spent 10 of his 18 NHL seasons with the Winnipeg Jets and compiled 148 goals, 647 points and 1,400 penalty minutes in 1,055 regular season games and another nine goals, 33 points and 120 penalty minutes in 69 playoff games.
He began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Jets in 1995-96, then worked as an assistant to Jean Perron with the Moose in 1996-97 before taking over as head coach and GM for the final 32 games of the International Hockey League season.
Anaheim lost to the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in 2003, but missed the playoffs in 2003-04 after posting a record of 29-35-10-8.