Chevy looking high and low
Will GM call coach up from the minors or pick a veteran?
KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
|There are two camps in True North’s short list: experienced NHL veterans and AHL coaches like the Moose’s Claude Noel. (MARCEL CRETAIN/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - Will it be a fresh face or a tried and true veteran?
That’s one of the critical decisions the True North hockey operations department will be asking themselves after the first round of interviews for the head coaching position is expected to conclude this weekend.
Incumbent Craig Ramsay is believed to be the fourth and final candidate on the short list to get an interview and that will come either Saturday or Sunday.
Manitoba Moose head coach Claude Noel got the first shot at impressing general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and director of hockey operations Craig Heisinger, former Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish was up next, while Chicago Blackhawks assistant Mike Haviland had his shot on Friday.
For the longest time, the NHL was more than happy to recycle coaches with experience but that trend has been bucked in recent years.
Glen Gulutzan of the Dallas Stars and Mike Yeo of the Minnesota Wild, both of whom were officially announced on Friday — along with Kevin Dineen of the Florida Panthers — are three of the latest to advance from the American Hockey League to the NHL.
Former Moose head coach Scott Arniel joined the Columbus Blue Jackets last season and the process really sped up in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and led the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup.
“I think it is a trend,” Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said Friday during a conference call. “Obviously the success of Danny Bylsma and Guy Boucher in his first year out of the American Hockey League are examples of that. The league has gotten younger, and I think maybe that is a factor.
“These young coaches are innovative and have a good relationship with those young players. But I don’t want it to be a misconception that we have a young coach to be with our young players. We have a young coach that we feel will be our leader. … They will certainly know who is charge.”
Gulutzan, who was born in The Pas but grew up in Hudson Bay, Sask., is proud to be part of the recent trend.
“There’s lots of good young coaches out there, no question,” Gulutzan said Friday during his introductory press conference. “There are a lot of good young coaches in the AHL and all over the place, as a matter of fact. The older guys are getting pushed, but they’re still the guys we’ve all learned from. In different organizations, different coaches fit. And there’s a place for everyone in the game.”
Winnipeg’s short list is a mix of both and you can essentially break them into two groups: the veterans are MacTavish and Ramsay, while the up-and-comers are Noel and Haviland.
For what it’s worth, MacTavish and Ramsay both played in the NHL, while Haviland and Noel played in the minors.
Ramsay is a longtime assistant and associate coach, with only one full season of head coaching experience under his belt. The Atlanta Thrashers had a hot start but missed the playoffs, finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference.
MacTavish spent three seasons as an NHL assistant before becoming the Oilers head man in 2000-01.
During his eight seasons, MacTavish led the team to the playoffs three times.
Both Noel and Haviland have enjoyed a great deal of success in the minors, are both former AHL coaches of the year and also spent time in the NHL as assistants.