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Huge if True: NHL coaching carousel waits on Bruce Boudreau

FILE - In this April 8, 2015 file photo, Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau coaches his team during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars, in Anaheim, Calif. The Anaheim Ducks have fired coach Bruce Boudreau after their first-round exit from the playoffs. Ducks general manager Bob Murray announced the decision Friday, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

As of right now, four NHL teams are without their head coaches.

The first to jettison theirs, way back while the season was still going on, was the Minnesota Wild. John Torchetti was their interim coach down the stretch and right up until this second, but the Wild are actively looking at other options as well.

Then came the Ottawa Senators, which turfed Dave Cameron right around the time when the regular season came to an end. Last week it was the Anaheim Ducks giving Bruce Boudreau, who lost another Game 7 with Anaheim, the ol' heave-ho. And on Tuesday morning it was the Calgary Flames unceremoniously kicking Bob Hartley to the curb because he wasn't a good head coach.

So that's four vacancies and, as we'll see in a minute, there remains no shortage of options. In doing the research here, you would have had to clock out pretty early to find fewer than a dozen names mentioned in connection with at least one of these jobs, so obviously this is going to get very heated very quickly.

The Rumor

Lots to process here, but let's be honest: Bruce Boudreau is the big prize and everyone else is fighting for scraps. Any team that hires a coach who is not Boudreau before Boudreau gets hired is making an enormous mistake, full-stop.

But again, only one team gets him, and a good coach is an enormous asset to a team. The Toronto Maple Leafs recently learned you can pay one literally anything you can afford because it doesn't hurt your cap situation, and statistically Boudreau might add more wins to your record at the end of the year than even Mike Babcock. There are, however, probably two open jobs here for which money considerations could be a major issue.

Those teams, obviously, are budget clubs Ottawa and Anaheim, and more obviously Anaheim just fired the guy so they were out anyway.

This very quickly becomes a two-horse race then, at least if Calgary and Minnesota are smart. Sure, the Senators will act like they're in the Boudreau-hiring business, but Cameron was reportedly the lowest-paid coach in the league when he was let go. Boudreau would likely have been near the top. Think Eugene Melnyk makes that jump?

Who's Going Where?

But before we get down to the picking and choosing here, let's first examine the criteria apparently being laid out by each of the teams involved, starting with the most recent dismissal.

The Flames are probably the best position to hire anyone they like because they spend to the cap and have by far the most attractive situation going forward (maybe not for next season, unless they get the goalie situation sorted out, but still).

But let's also keep in mind Brad Treliving said the decision to fire Hartley didn't have much to do with who was available. And if you believe that, I have a hockey team in Calgary to sell you. Hartley might have been fired anyway, but the timing screams, “Right this way, Mr. Boudreau.” He almost certainly is, and should be, top of their list.

However, Calgary has also made it known that they won't necessarily require their head coaching choice to have had NHL experience before. That opens the door for Travis Green, a long-time NHLer (970 games!) and very well-regarded coach for AHL Utica; their own AHL coach Ryan Huska; and maybe one or two others who have generally been mentioned as being on the market.

Meanwhile, Renaud Lavoie has the Flames kicking the tires on Randy Carlyle for reasons inexplicable. For a team that just made a very intelligent step forward in getting rid of Hartley, this would arguably be an even bigger leap backward.

They might also take a gander at Marc Crawford, Dallas Eakins, Sheldon Keefe, Mike Yeo, Kevin Dineen, and Dave Lowry.

The Flames have not talked with Boudreau about the job opening yet, but Minnesota has. (He has a meeting pending with Ottawa, as well.) Minnesota also quite likes the job Torchetti did, so maybe he gets a longer look than some might have otherwise expected. Another name apparently on the Wild's list... Randy Carlyle? What, them too? Okay.

Next up we have Ottawa, which again has that meeting scheduled with Boudreau on Friday. But the Sens are being a little choosier than Calgary in one regard: They'd like their coach to have NHL experience. The Ducks are in the same boat there.

To that end, the Senators will also look at:

• Mike Yeo (fired by Minnesota earlier this year for not being able to wring better results from that not-good team)

• Marc Crawford (most recently with Dallas in 2011, and coach of ZSC Lions in Switzerland the last four seasons)

• Guy Boucher (last seen with Tampa in 2013, coach of both SC Bern and Canada's Spengler Cup teams the last two years)

• Kevin Dineen (Florida's head coach from 2011-14, assistant with Chicago each of the last two seasons)

• Benoit Groulx (no NHL head coaching experience, but currently Gatineau's coach in the QMJHL and a former AHL head coach)

• Randy Carlyle (this guy again!)

There's also an idea that Ottawa might be interested in what Hartley's selling. Eric Francis goes so far as to say he will “no doubt” be hired there, and it makes sense: He's bilingual, he's from nearby Hawkesbury, and he might even be had on the cheap.

John Stevens, currently the associate head coach in LA, is another guy to monitor for all these job openings, but the Kings might not let him interview elsewhere.

The Implications

Again, this all basically boils down to where Boudreau lands.

If he lands in Minnesota, for instance, everyone else is instantly scrambling to find the best alternative. I think that's probably what everyone is talking about when they say they'd take coaches without NHL experience; might as well try to find the next Jon Cooper or Dave Hakstol, a great coach in the lower levels of the sport who could become both a bargain and a brilliant move. (I might even advance the idea of excellent Providence College coach Nate Leaman getting some consideration here, as his name has been mentioned in that vein for a while now.)

Anyway, the hockey world is almost certainly going to have to wait for the Boudreau domino to fall before anything else happens, and that simply makes sense for all involved.

This Is So Huge, If True: Is It True?
On a B.S. detector scale of 1-5, with one being the most reasonable and 5 being the least:

Boudreau being the first coach hired:

Emoji

 

 

  

 

 

 

(No question this is what should happen.)

Calgary or Minnesota being Boudreau's most likely landing spots?

For Calgary:

Emoji

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Minnesota:

Emoji

 

 

 

 

(Flames have a better situation overall, but Minnesota might just throw cash at him.)

Another team going to someone with no NHL head coaching experience:

Emoji

 

 

 

  

(After Boudreau's gone, I don't see why not.)

The idea that Ottawa is basically a lock to hire Hartley:

Emoji

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This is exactly the kind of not-bright move I would expect from the Senators.)

Someone hiring Randy Carlyle: 

Emoji

 

 

 

 

(Anaheim might do it, but you'd really hope not.)

There are a lot of good coaching options out there these days. It should be pretty easy not to screw this up. Now we just wait to see how someone screws it up.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via War On Ice unless otherwise noted.)

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