So in the end, the first head coach for the Winnipeg Whatevers will either be the guy who worked for the team owners in the AHL or the guy who worked under the team's general manager as an assistant coach in Chicago.
Thanks for playing, Craig MacTavish and Craig Ramsay, but you're not in the circle of trust, Focker.
The Winnipeg Free Press reported on Monday night that either Manitoba Moose interim head coach Claude Noel, former head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, or Chicago Blackhawks assistant Mike Haviland will become the new bench boss for the Team Formerly Known As The Atlanta Thrashers. Both interviewed for the gig last week.
Haviland has been as assistant for the Blackhawks for three seasons, working with Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff for the last two seasons when Cheveldayoff was the assistant general manager/senior director, hockey operations for Chicago. Haviland was a head coach for seven years in the AHL and ECHL, including three years with the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, which has to be a résumé conversation piece.
Noel was the head coach of the Moose, which True North Sports and Entertainment owned and operated until it purchased the Thrashers in May.
Haviland, who will be 44 in July, is the hotter property of the two coaches, having been seen as a rising star in the NHL assistant ranks for some time. But Noel has the NHL head coaching experience, albeit 24 games after Ken Hitchcock was canned in 2009-10.
Ramsay, the head coach of the Thrashers last season, spoke with the Free Press about the Winnipeg brass's decision not to retain him:
"(GM) Kevin (Cheveldayoff) handled in a pro way. I've got no qualms with the way he did it. From the other standpoint, I don't like the way it dragged on. I think the Winnipeg management could have contacted us a little earlier to let us know where they were heading."
Ramsay has one year remaining on the contract he signed before last year. Associate coach John Torchetti and assistant coach Mike Stothers were also told they won't be back.
So MacTavish and Ramsay are still on the market, and there's only one team still looking for a head coach: The New Jersey Devils.
Either candidate would seem to fit the veteran, experienced head coaching candidate one assumes Lou Lamoriello is looking for after the John MacLean died hard with 9 wins in 33 games. (No, that joke never gets old, why do you ask?)