There are 30 head coaching jobs in the NHL. Only two of them are currently vacant. Paul Maurice, the former head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes, kicked the tires on one of them: The Washington Capitals.
But rather than pursue the chance to coach the NHL's biggest Russian star, Maurice decided to coach … in Russia.
SovSport reported on Friday that Maurice had signed a 1-year contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, replacing Fyodor Kanareikin. Metallurg lost in the KHL playoff semifinals to Omsk.
While their roster didn't feature a North American player last season, the team sought a North American coach for next season. From RIA Novosti:
"The question about a head coach for this team of stars should be resolved in the near future — the management of the club hopes to sign a contract with a coach from North America," the club said in a statement on its website.
The new coach's assistant will be Ilya Vorobyov, a former Metallurg player who served as assistant coach at Lokomotiv Yaroslavl this season as the team played junior hockey after the entire roster and coaching staff died in a plane crash. The KHL has an American coach in Lokomotiv's Tom Rowe, who was signed last month after several years as an assistant coach and scout for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes.
Josh Rimer reports that the contract is worth $2 million. Which he's not getting in the AHL, obviously...
Just as intriguing as Maurice is the fact that Tom Barrasso, the Hurricanes' goaltending coach, is headed to the KHL with him. To say that goaltending in the Russian League isn't exactly up to NHL standards … well, Barrasso could probably strap on the pads and win the Tretiak next season. Assuming it's called the Tretiak.
But quality coaching leads to quality hockey, and this is a nice, aggressive move by Metallurg.