14 coaching candidates for Canucks to consider if they let Boudreau go

Nov 18 2022, 12:56 am

On December 5, 2021, Bruce Boudreau was hired as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

He brought impeccable vibes with him and helped the Canucks play at a 106-point pace over the final 57 games of the 2021-22 season.

But now he’s on the hot seat.

Life moves fast.

Not even one year after he was hired by the Canucks, Boudreau’s days in Vancouver appear to be numbered as the team has endured one of the worst starts in franchise history.

Boudreau could soon be gone, according to multiple reports from insiders, so here is a look at 14 candidates that could replace him.

Coaches with Pittsburgh connections

1. Rick Tocchet

TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported that Rick Tocchet is “one of, if not the top candidate” to potentially replace Boudreau.

Tocchet was an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins for three seasons while Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin were with the organization.

2. Mike Vellucci

Mike Vellucci is in his third season as an assistant coach with the Penguins. He previously won championships in both the OHL and the AHL.

Vellucci reportedly interviewed twice during the offseason to become head coach of the Flyers, before the team elected to give the job to John Tortorella instead.

Experienced veterans

3. Andrew Brunette

Aside from Tocchet, the other person who’s recently been connected to a potential head coaching job with the Canucks is Andrew Brunette.

Brunette was surprisingly let go by the Florida Panthers during the offseason. He was nominated for the Jack Adams Trophy after taking over from Joel Quenneville last November. Brunette led the Panthers to the President’s Trophy and their first playoff series victory since 1996.

He was hired by the New Jersey Devils as an associate coach during the offseason.

4. Claude Julien

One of the most experienced former head coaches available is Claude Julien.

He hasn’t been in the NHL since being fired by the Montreal Canadiens early in the 2020-21 season, despite the fact that the Habs were one of the NHL’s most effective teams at even strength.

5. Todd Nelson

Although Barry Trotz has said he doesn’t plan on coaching during the 2022-23 season, Todd Nelson is someone who previously said he modeled his coaching style after Trotz.

The 52-year-old has NHL head coaching experience. He was a midseason replacement for the Edmonton Oilers back in 2014-15.

However, he did lead the Grand Rapids Griffiths of the AHL to a Calder Cup back in 2016-17. He then spent four years as an assistant coach for the Dallas Stars before taking another AHL head coaching job prior to this season.

Ironically, Nelson is now the head coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears – a team in which Boudreau is a part-owner.

6. Guy Boucher

Guy Boucher is basically the antithesis of Boudreau. He’s known for being fiery and intense while implementing a defence-first system.

He’s reportedly looking for an NHL opportunity again after turning down previous offers to focus on family. Boucher was last in the NHL when he was fired by the Ottawa Senators in March 2019.

Coaches with Canucks connections

7. Manny Malhotra

In the NHL, it’s all about who you know.

Manny Malhotra is currently with the Toronto Maple Leafs as an assistant coach and is considered a promising young coaching candidate.

He also has an obvious connection to the Sedins since he played with them for three seasons during his time with the Canucks.

8. Marco Sturm

German-born Maro Sturm wasn’t with the Canucks for very long, playing only six games for the organization back in 2011-12.

However, he’s another coach with Canuck connections who’s been climbing the ranks. He spent four years as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings, and was recently named head coach of their AHL affiliate in Ontario, California.

Outside the box candidates

9. Rikard Grönborg

For years, pundits have wondered if Rikard Grönborg would become the NHL’s first Swedish head coach.

Well, the Canucks were the first team in NHL history to name a Swede as general manager. Could they also be the first to hire a Swedish head coach?

10. Benoit Groulx

Benoit Groulx, known as a demanding coach, has been head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate for six seasons. He’s helped usher a number of players to the NHL, players who have contributed to the Lightning’s back-t0-back Stanley Cup wins.

11. Ryan Warsofsky

If Vellucci isn’t hired by the Canucks, perhaps another up-and-comer who was previously on his staff could be considered.

Ryan Warsofsky worked for Vellucci as an assistant coach for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. He was in charge of their penalty kill, which was best in the league back in 2019-20.

Although he’s only 34 years old, Warsofsky has already spent time as an AHL assistant, AHL head coach, and he’s now an NHL assistant coach after being hired by the San Jose Sharks during the offseason.

Internal options

12. Mike Yeo

Mike Yeo is no stranger to taking over an NHL head coaching position midseason. He did so last season for the Philadelphia Flyers, replacing head coach Alain Vigneault the day after Boudreau was hired by the Canucks.

Yeo went 17-36-7 during his brief stint as Flyers’ head coach before being fired at the end of the season. It was the third time in his career that Yeo took over as a midseason replacement, doing so previously with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues.

There was a previous connection between Yeo and Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin. Both worked for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2006-10.

13. Jeremy Colliton

Another recently fired NHL head coach who’s now with the Canucks organization, Jeremy Colliton has gone 5-5-1 in his stint as head coach of the Abbotsford Canucks.

Colliton previously had success coaching Allvin’s former SHL team – Mora IK – before coming back over to North America.

14. Trent Cull

Although he got a promotion from Abbotsford to Vancouver this season, Trent Cull didn’t have a glowing track record of developing prospects in the AHL.

However, he hinted in this interview that he was handcuffed by the previous regime rushing certain players to the NHL.

While none of the internal candidates inspire a ton of confidence, the Canucks do have options if they want to quickly plug in somebody as head coach.

Trevor BeggsTrevor Beggs

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