Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford needs to find a head coach that can maintain the division championship success Dan Bylsma had in the regular season while also being able to make the proper “adjustments” in the playoffs that Bylsma failed to make – despite advancing to the conference semifinals and beyond – all while commanding the respect of two of the best hockey players in the world.
Oh, c’mon, even the interns can do that job, right?
Marc Crawford, former head coach of the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars. Most recently a coach and analyst in Switzerland while waiting to take part in hockey’s O.J. Trial in September.
John Hynes, head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins in the AHL for the last four seasons.
Bill Peters, an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings who was the former head coach of their AHL affiliate.
Ulf Samuelsson, assistant coach for the New York Rangers and formerly a well-mannered defenseman for the Penguins during their Stanley Cup years.
John Stevens, assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings’ two Stanley Cup winning teams after getting fired by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009. The Penguins have asked permission to speak with him.
Ron Wilson, former head coach for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Washington Capitals, the San Jose Sharks and the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he spent four playoff-less seasons and had his reputation take a hit … before Randy Carlyle took over and absence made the heart grow fonder.
So we have a couple of Olympic coaches, a former Jack Adams winner with a Stanley Cup ring, a couple of hot shot assistants … many of whom are also in the running for the openings in Florida and Carolina. (Stevens, it’s been rumored, is the other guy the Vancouver Canucks are considering along with Willie Desjardins of the AHL Texas Stars.)
Where does Rutherford go here?
Wilson and Crawford have both coached star players. They’ve both been around the block a few times, and no doubt can make the aggressive moves necessary to win in the postseason.
Stevens and Samuelsson are interesting, given the strong group of young defensemen the Penguins have coming up. Stevens orchestrated the Kings’ defense corps. This is only a good thing.
Wilson is an intriguing candidate. He wore out his welcome in Toronto thanks in part to some abjectly terrible goaltending (whose reversal of fortune has kept Randy Carlyle in a job), but Wilson’s a very good coach and a good fit for the team. Crosby and Malkin would love the up tempo style. The media would eat up his jokey but sometimes combative nature.
Maybe Wilson’s the guy who can accomplish what Bylsma couldn’t.
You know, like in the Olympics.