Yesterday’s announcement that Steve Yzerman will again GM Team Canada at the Winter Olympics got people thinking about the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia — that meant projecting rosters, lineups, management teams and of course, head coaches.
Over at ESPN, Craig Custance has compiled a list of potential American bench bosses.
[Note: Sounds like Brian Burke is likely to retain his role as GM. The architect of the silver medal-winning team in Vancouver, Burke was called “the front-runner,” by advisory committee member Dale Tallon.]
[Note 2: Of course, all 2014 Olympic posts should come with a disclaimer that NHL involvement is not guaranteed at this time.]
Currently, there are six American NHL head coaches: Joe Sacco (Colorado), Todd Richards (Columbus), Jack Capuano (New York Islanders), John Tortorella (New York Rangers), Peter Laviolette (Philadelphia) and Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh). Custance lists Bylsma and Tortorella as two of the favorites — in the last three years Bylsma has won a Stanley Cup and Jack Adams while Tortorella has the Rangers atop the East and was an assistant coach in 2010.
Custance also counts recently-fired Leafs coach Ron Wilson as a legit contender as well. Yes, even though things could be incredibly awkward with Burke as the GM.
As for the others…Laviolette gets mentioned in “the field” of candidates. He’s coached the Americans twice at the World Championships but, unfortunately, was at the helm of the disappointing U.S. team at the 2006 games in Torino (one win in six games.)
Sacco, Gordon and Richards seem like longshots, though all three have international experience. Sacco played on eight different national teams and Gordon has coached the last two World Championship squads. Richards assisted Gordon at the 2011 WHC.
As for other names to keep an eye on? If Bylsma gets the nod, Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato could be joining him — Granato has head coach experience from his time in Colorado, making the playoffs in two of his three seasons. (Of note: Granato’s brother, Don, was named head coach of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Aug. 2011.)
Doug Weight could be one to watch as well. He’s currently assisting Caupano with the Islanders and represented his country on numerous occasions during his career, including a silver medal-winning performance at the 2002 Salt Lake games. He could bridge the gap between the new generation of American players, given he’s recently removed from his playing days.