George Johnson of the Calgary Herald has an interesting theory regarding the Flames’ vacant head coaching gig, suggesting that current New York Rangers assistant Mike Sullivan could be at (or near) the top of the candidate list.
At 44, Sullivan would project the youngish, upwardly mobile image an exhausted, stale franchise keeps insisting it’s searching for. He therefore doesn’t come with a lot of baggage, but would arrive with NHL head-coaching experience already at his beck and call.
Sullivan, remember, skippered his home-state Boston Bruins for two seasons, sandwiched around the 2004-2005 lockout. In the first of those, he piloted the B’s to a 41-17-15-7 record, good for 104 points and top perch in the Northeast Division.
He was also highly regarded enough to be part of the U.S. setup for the Torino Olympics in 2006.
Other things working in Sullivan’s favor?
— He’s familiar with the city and organization. He spent three seasons playing in Calgary in the mid-90s.
— Sullivan worked for Flames GM Jay Feaster in Tampa Bay (as an assistant coach under John Tortorella.)
— He’s not that far removed from his playing days (former teammate of Daniel Briere, Shane Doan and Michal Handzus, among others.)
It’ll be interesting to see if the timing works out for Sullivan and the Flames. He’s unable to speak with any potential suitors until after New York’s playoffs are over and there’s a belief Feaster would like a coach in place prior to the draft.
That doesn’t leave a huge window of opportunity, especially if the Rangers advance to the Cup final.