Jonas Hiller

Best news of the day? Jonas Hiller says he expects to be ready for training camp

All 30 NHL teams will deal with any number of variables going into the 2011-12 season, but few face the kind of high-risk toss-up that the Anaheim Ducks must contemplate with their franchise goalie Jonas Hiller. When healthy, Hiller cleans up a lot of mistakes for a shaky Ducks defense, but vertigo issues prematurely ended his 10-11 season and put his future in serious doubt.

Judging by the fact that he accepted a measly tryout offer with the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s reasonable to think that the Ducks could have signed Ray Emery to another two-way contract in case Hiller’s problems persist. They opted against that, though, sticking with Hiller and expensive backup Dan Ellis going into next season.

That seemed like a dubious risk to take, but maybe the Ducks know that he’s on the right track. Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski provided a translated interview that provides optimism straight from Hiller himself, which must be a breath of fresh air for Ducks fans. (Here’s video of the interview, if you’re among the few who don’t need the translation.)

Reporter (starts at the 00:15 mark): Seven months have passed since the bitter diagnosis. A hard time with new tasks.

Jonas Hiller (00:23): “What I can say today is that, yes, today I am feeling much better than a month ago. This I can say. But I can’t say that I feel much better than yesterday. There are like too small periods to measure.  And that’s certainly not been easy for me, somehow, this change. I’m accustomed to getting better every day, [someone] who sets myself new goals on a daily basis. I had to give myself so much time to progress. This was a difficult and especially depressing time.”

(snip)

Reporter (02:47): In a month, training camp will start overseas. Only then will Jonas Hiller have certainty. But one thing is clear already: He’s doing much better.

Hiller (02:58): “Of course I know I still have to get some ice-training and I have to work hard towards it. But that is something that you do every year. And for that I am here in Switzerland. This is what I’m working towards. And then, I believe, that I’m going to be ready come training camp and the season. And the All-Star game is certainly a goal again.”

It sounds like Hiller’s still going through a recovery process of sorts – or at least making sure his situation is stable by going through typical summer workouts – but it would be fantastic news for the Ducks if he returns to his underrated form next season. Hiller received a well-deserved All-Star selection last season, but it would be that much more impressive (and inspiring) if he did it again next season.

The Ducks would be happy to have him back either way.

To be young: Coyotes to hire 26-year-old as GM, give Tippett more say

Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett watches his team play the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.  (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
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It sounds like the Arizona Coyotes’ youth movement won’t merely be seen on the ice.

ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Coyotes will promote 26-year-old assistant GM John Chayka to GM. The team teased a major press conference for Thursday, when that news is likely to be made official.

The presser could be useful for more than the usual quotes and mission statements, as the Coyotes seem like they may parallel the Toronto Maple Leafs in combining an experienced executive, a young up-and-coming thinker and a more empowered head coach.

Dave Tippett is expected to have more of a say in personnel decisions while the Coyotes hope to bring in a Lou Lamoriello-type to assist Chayka, according to Custance.

(Custance’s ESPN Insider article [subscription required] goes in much greater depth, including a comparison to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors rather than the Maple Leafs.)

It’s possible that Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson might come in to help Chayka, although an earlier report suggests that Jackson might stay in Dallas.

Multiple reporters including Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper back up Custance’s report.

Considering Chayka’s age – he’s primed to become the youngest GM in NHL history – it’s no surprise that people are churning out jokes.

(This post’s author comes with six more years of [life] experience and a resume stacked with impressive video game and fantasy hockey team-building, by the way.)

Marc Crawford coaching in Detroit? Hey, could happen…

Marc Crawford
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Former Avs bench boss Marc Crawford was one of the central figures in the legendary Detroit-Colorado rivalry of the 90s, largely remembered for his screaming match with (well, more like screaming match at) Scotty Bowman.

With that in mind, consider what MLive wrote on Wednesday with regards to Detroit’s search for a new assistant coach.

GM Ken Holland declined to reveal which candidates he and Jeff Blashill have contacted about replacing Tony Granato, who left the Wings for the University of Wisconsin job.

But Holland did say “we lost a guy with a lot of experience in [Granato],” adding, “we want to replace him with someone with a lot of experience.”

MLive then went on to publish a list of potential candidates… starting with Crawford.

Based on the criteria Holland wants, Crawford makes a lot of sense. He’s got a truckload of experience — 15 years in the NHL, to be exact — won a Cup with the Avs, and his 549 wins put him 18th all time.

Crawford also wants back in the NHL.

He left Swiss League club Zurich this offseason after a successful four-year stint — which included the 2014 league title — to try and land a gig. Per the Ottawa Sun, he’s already interviewed for the vacant Sens position.

And per MLive, Crawford said he’s willing to take an assistant’s position if he can’t become a head coach.

That last bit of information is key. The coaching market is flush right now as Bruce Boudreau, Mike Yeo, Bob Hartley, Travis Green, Paul MacLean , Randy Carlyle and Kevin Dineen are all considered viable and quality candidates.

Thing is, there are only a handful of jobs available.

Calgary, Anaheim and Ottawa are entirely vacant, while Minnesota is still unclear with what it wants to do with interim bench boss John Torchetti.

Add it all up, and Crawford’s NHL return might have to come by way of an assistant’s position.

But in Detroit?

Sure, it might look weird.

It also might fit the bill.

Report: AHL’s Portland Pirates moving to Springfield

Portland Pirates goalie Mark Visentin makes a save during an AHL hockey game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Andrew Krech) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Looks like the AHL isn’t finished shuffling around teams.

From the Portland Press Herald:

The Portland Pirates are leaving Maine.

Mitch Berkowitz, chair of the board of trustees for county-owned Cross Insurance Arena, confirmed Wednesday afternoon that “the Pirates will be headed to Springfield” Massachusetts, but that he did not know further details.

The city of Springfield has been searching for a team to replace the AHL Falcons, sold last month – although yet to be approved – to the parent Arizona Coyotes, who announced plans to move the franchise to Tucson.

The Pirates are the AHL affiliates of the Florida Panthers. They’ve been in Portland since 1993, when they started out as the Capitals’ farm team and were coached for a number of years by Barry Trotz.

Travis Green: ‘I think I’m ready’ to coach in the NHL

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Travis Green has never coached in the NHL, not even as an assistant.

But a lengthy career as a player, followed by success as a head coach in the WHL and AHL, has left him feeling prepared to take the next step.

“I think I’m ready,” Green told Postmedia yesterday. “Every job in the NHL is worth its weight in gold, and I would have 100 per cent interest at options with every team in the league. You hope all your qualities are enticing for one of them.”

After the Flames fired Bob Hartley yesterday, many are wondering if Green could be a candidate to take over in Calgary. Other head-coaching vacancies exist in Anaheim and Ottawa, and potentially Minnesota.

For the past three seasons, Green has been the head coach of the Utica Comets, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Last year, the Comets made it all the way to the Calder Cup finals, an accomplishment that Green found particularly rewarding since “it wasn’t like we had an all-star team.”

While some GMs won’t risk hiring a coach without any NHL experience — they’d prefer a guy who’s been there before and knows what to expect — it’s worth noting that Jon Cooper didn’t have an NHL track record before he took over in Tampa Bay, and he’s done OK. Heck, Dave Hastol hadn’t even coached professionals before he landed the job in Philadelphia, and the Flyers seem pretty happy with him.

Green is under contract for one more season in Utica, but reportedly has an out-clause to pursue an NHL job.

Related: Will the Sens take a run at Kevin Dineen?