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Hockey, Sports

12 potential coaching candidates for Canucks, Comets

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Rob Williams May 25, 2017 9:04 am 2,348

It’s been four weeks since the Vancouver Canucks officially introduced Travis Green as the 19th head coach in franchise history.

The offseason coaching shakeup left a few holes in the organization, notably a vacancy for Green’s old job in Utica, and the assistant coaching roles previously held by Doug Lidster and Perry Pearn.

Green indicated his preference to bring his Utica assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner with him to Vancouver, but nothing has been officially announced. There hasn’t been anything announced with regards to the Utica head coaching vacancy either, although the rumour mill got going on Wednesday, with Windsor Spitfires head coach Rocky Thompson being linked to the Canucks.

Here are a few names that could warrant consideration for the three coaching vacancies:

1. Nolan Baumgartner – Utica Comets (AHL) assistant coach

Given Green’s comments at his opening press conference, former Canucks defenceman Nolan Baumgartner has to be considered a frontrunner to make the move to Vancouver as assistant coach.

Experience

A long pro career as a player. Five years as an assistant coach with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate (four in Utica, one with the Chicago Wolves).

Why him?

Baumgartner has paid his dues, has worked with Green for four seasons, and could fill Doug Lidster’s role responsible for the defencemen.

2. Mike Johnston – Portland Winterhawks (WHL) head coach

If Green wants familiarity, Mike Johnston is a great candidate.

Experience

Six years as Marc Crawford’s assistant with the Canucks (2000-2006) and the Kings (2006-2008). Seven seasons as head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, including three years with Green as his assistant.

Johnston’s only head coaching experience was as the bench boss with Pittsburgh during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

Why him?

He’s got loads of experience, and familiarity with Green.

3. Rocky Thompson – Windsor Spitfires (OHL) head coach

Thompson was recently linked to the Utica head coaching position. He’s currently coaching the Windsor Spitfires in the Memorial Cup.

Experience

Eight years as an assistant in the WHL, AHL, and NHL. A lot of success in just two years as head coach in Windsor.

Why him?

The 39-year-old is considered an up-and-coming coach. They could groom the former NHL enforcer into Green’s successor one day.

4. Steve Konowalchuk – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) head coach

Another coach who brought his team to the Memorial Cup this season, Steve Konowalchuk checks a lot of boxes.

Experience

A veteran of 790 NHL games, Konowalchuk was an assistant with Colorado for two seasons, and the head coach with Seattle for the past six.

Why him?

Konowalchuk would be a fit with Utica, with a chance to become an NHL head coach one day. He also played with Trevor Linden when he was a player with the Washington Capitals.

5. Kris Knoblauch – Erie Otters (OHL) head coach

At just 38 years old, Kris Knoblauch is the youngest candidate on this list.

Experience

Seven years as a head coach in junior with Erie and Kootenay.

Why him?

His teams win all the time. He’s won two OHL titles, lost in the Final once, and been to the third round twice.

6. Manny Malhotra – Vancouver Canucks (NHL) development coach

Manny Malhotra rejoined the Canucks in a part-time coaching role last season. He’d be a candidate to replace Perry Pearn as one of Green’s assistants.

Experience

He played 991 NHL games, and spent one season as a development coach with the Canucks.

Why him?

As a player, he always seemed destined to become a coach.

7. Scott Walker – Vancouver Canucks (NHL) player development consultant

Speaking of former Canucks players already in the organization, Scott Walker could be a fit as Utica’s head coach.

Experience

He played 829 NHL games and coached the Guelph Storm for parts of five seasons, winning an OHL championship in 2014.

Why him?

He checks a lot of boxes and the organization knows him well, employing him as a development consultant since 2015. He’s also a former teammate of Trevor Linden.

8. Tim Hunter – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) head coach

Another former Canucks teammate of Trevor Linden, Tim Hunter could be in line to return to his old team.

Experience

Played 815 games, winning a Stanley Cup with Calgary in 1989. He has 14 years of experience as an assistant coach in the NHL with Washington, San Jose, and Toronto. He’s been the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL for the past three seasons.

Why him?

He’s done it all. He’s well qualified for the Canucks assistant’s role, or he could build on his experience as a head coach in Utica.

9. Martin Gelinas – Calgary Flames (NHL) assistant coach

Continuing with the theme of former Canucks players is Martin Gelinas, who is currently an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames.

Experience

Assistant coach with Calgary for five seasons. Played 1273 NHL games.

Why him?

If he’s interested in becoming an NHL head coach one day, he’ll need experience running his own bench at some point. If not, he’s got a lot of experience in an assistant’s role.

10. Dean Evason – Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) head coach

Dean Evason isn’t short on experience, and would be a great fit with Utica if he wants to change organizations.

Experience

Six years coaching in the WHL, including two with the Vancouver Giants. He was an assistant in Washington for seven years before becoming the head coach of Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee in 2012. He also played 803 games in the NHL.

Why him?

You can credit Evason for developing a number of Nashville’s good young players who have excelled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. Current Preds head coach Peter Laviolette isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so perhaps a change of scenery would be a benefit to him?

11. Marc Crawford – Ottawa Senators (NHL) assistant coach

A member of the surprising Ottawa Senators this season, Marc Crawford’s love for Vancouver is well known.

Experience

This is Crawford’s first year back in the NHL as an assistant coach, after four years as a head coach in Switzerland. He has 14 years of head coaching experience in the NHL, including a Stanley Cup in 1996.

Why him?

Crawford could lend experience to a rookie NHL head coach in Vancouver.

12. Bob Boughner – San Jose Sharks (NHL) assistant coach

It’s only a matter of time before Bob Boughner gets a head coaching job in the NHL.

Experience

He won two Memorial Cups in eight years with Windsor. He’s been an assistant in the NHL with Columbus and San Jose. He also played 630 NHL games as a player.

Why him?

Boughner would be a fit as Utica’s head coach, provided he wants to gain experience as a head coach with pro players.

See also

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Rob Williams
Man of the people, voice of the fans. Daily Hive Sports Editor.

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