While the Atlanta Thrashers ponder what their future will hold, one part they’ll have to take care of first is their vacant head coaching position. Chris Vivlamore at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells us that general manager Rick Dudley has spoken to one man on his hit list who could be of major interest.
The Thrashers interviewed Craig Ramsay for their vacant head coaching position over the weekend. Ramsay, currently an assistant with the Boston Bruins, is the third candidate to be interviewed by new Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley.
Last month Dudley interviewed AHL head coaches Scott Arniel, of the Manitoba Moose, and Don Lever, of the Thrashers’ minor-league affiliate Chicago Wolves. Dudley met with Arniel at the Memorial Cup and with Lever following the junior hockey tournament.
You can scratch one name off that short list already as Scott Arniel is set to become the head coach of the Blue Jackets. Don Lever is an interesting choice given his familiarity with the players in the organization. Of course, that didn’t really help out former head coach John Anderson at all as he was let go at the end of this past season.
As for Ramsay, he’s spent most of his coaching career as an assistant coach, save for one year as the Flyers head coach in 2000-2001 that ended with a first round loss in the playoffs to the Buffalo Sabres in six games, the clincher being an 8-0 blowout. Apparently, Craig Ramsay is still suffering from that humiliation because he hasn’t landed a head coaching job since then. Luckily for Ramsay, his former teammate Rick Dudley is willing to look beyond such matters at this point in life.
As for who else Dudley might be looking at, Vivlamore adds a couple more names in Blackhawks assistant John Torchetti who is a bit tied up right now with the Stanley Cup finals and Rockford Ice Hogs coach Bill Peters. What’s Dudley looking for in a head coach? Warning: Nonsensical cliché ahead.
“I was trying to throw questions that were not normal questions that they would get … and they didn’t even flinch,” Dudley said of the interviews. “If I asked them about the neutral zone and playing against a passive fore check, what would you do? They just answered like it was water off a duck’s back.”
So the Thrashers want to be like ducks or like the Anaheim Ducks or not like ducks/Ducks at all? I’m lost now.
As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.
The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.
“Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”
Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.
Suter also had something to say about that.
“It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”
Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately. In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”
For example, at today’s practice:
The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.
Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.
We already knew this yesterday, but in case you missed it, Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight against Edmonton.
Sparks, 22, has been excellent in the AHL this season, going 8-2-1 with a .938 save percentage. He spent most of last season in the ECHL, where he also posted good numbers.
Sparks is getting the nod tonight because James Reimer is hurt and Jonathan Bernier has been struggling badly.
“He’s got an opportunity like lots of kids have had before him and it’s up to him to grab it,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, per NHL.com. “He’s got the [second-best] save percentage in the AHL and he’s winning all the time down there. Obviously we’re in need of some saves and we’ll have to play well in front of him for sure. But it’s an opportunity for him.”
Bernier, meanwhile, will have to sit and watch. The 27-year-old has allowed at least four goals in four of his last five starts. His save percentage has fallen all the way to .888.
Anders Nilsson will be in net for the Oilers.
— Cam Ward for the Hurricanes. Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers, who will try not to rely on him so much.
— Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Thomas Greiss for the Isles.
— The Canucks aren’t saying if it’ll be Ryan Miller of Jacob Markstrom. For the Ducks, it’ll be John Gibson.
Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.
The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.
He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)
But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.
“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.
“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”
Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)
The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).
Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.
Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.
Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.
As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.