Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More names for the coaching position

There haven't been many plausible names bandied about out for the Atlanta Thrashers head coaching position, now that Bob Hartley has been fired. Randy Cunneyworth and current assistant Brad McCrimmon are definitely good ones to think about. But here are eight more candidates, with links to their coaching records at hockeydb (which isn't always complete, but a decent resource).

Mike Eaves -- Eaves played 324 NHL games, retiring in 1986. He's been an NHL assistant coach with the Flyers and Penguins, a head coach in the AHL, a head coach with the USNTDP, national junior team, head coach in the Finnish Elite league in 1996-97, and most recently head coach at the University of Wisconsin, where he won the NCAA title in 2006. His son Patrick plays for the Senators. Eaves, 51, is very widely respected in the NCAA circles.

Mike Foligno -- Foligno played 1018 NHL games, retiring in 1994. Since then, he's been moving around different levels of hockey, most recently with the OHL Sudbury Wolves, where he went to coach his son, Nick, who is now in the NHL with the Senators (a strange coincidence with Eaves above). Foligno was also an assistant in the NHL with Toronto and Colorado. I met Mike at the draft in Nashville a few years ago -- we were standing in line outside together early Saturday morning. Seeing his name tag, I struck up a conversation with him about former Thrasher Scott Fankhouser, who he had coached in Hershey the year before. I also congratulated him on Nick being named to the U-17 team (had just happened to see that like the day before). Anyway, Mike, who is now 48, seemed like a great guy, and passes my quick screening test.

Dave Hakstol -- Hakstol played in the NCAA and IHL as a defenseman, retiring in 1996. He coached in the USHL to start, and is now head coach of NCAA powerhouse North Dakota, where the Thrashers have three prospects playing. UND gave him and the rest of his staff a new five-year contract this fall. Hakstol is 39.

John MacLean -- MacLean played 1164 NHL games, mostly with the NJ Devils, who he has been an assistant coach with for five years. NJ is very good defensively, which MacLean could help with. He is 43. The question would be if he would want to leave the Devils organization, who drafted him back in 1983.

Jim Playfair -- In the "interesting, but maybe not available" pile, we have Jim Playfair. He was an assistant in Calgary promoted to head coach then was pushed aside by Mike Keenan to be "associate coach", so he may not have an out clause. Playfair played 21 NHL games on defense, and had a long minor-league career. He is 43.

Trent Yawney -- In the "easy to get because he's not coaching professionally this year" pile, we have Yawney. Yawney played 593 NHL games as a defenseman, retiring in 1999. He was a successful coach in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals. He coached the Blackhawks for two years, ending last year.

Dean Blais -- Blais played college hockey and then some minor pro. He went on to a long career with the Univ. of North Dakota, leading the Sioux to NCAA championships in 1997 and 2000. He also had a relationship with USA Hockey. In 2005-06 he took a position as associate coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but that was short-lived. In summer 2007, he was named General Manager/Coach of a USHL franchise to be based in Fargo, North Dakota.

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