Joe Sakic

Report: Avs won’t rush to hire new head coach


The Colorado Avalanche have been without a head coach for 18 days.

And it could be another 18 — at least — until they find a new one.

On Wednesday, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reported his “spies” said the Avs won’t hire a replacement for Joe Sacco anytime soon.

It’s not hard to see why.

Dater reports Colorado is interested in Phoenix bench boss Dave Tippett, who is without a contract for next season.

The unpredictable nature of the Coyotes’ future clouds any potential hiring timeline — remember the Shane Doan saga of ’12? — and it could be a while before Tippett’s employment gets sorted.

As for other candidates?

One would think the Avs would show interest in Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault as well — assuming Vigneault is turfed.

Problem is, Canucks appear in no rush to make any decisions and Vigneault hasn’t even done his post-season media wrap yet, if he does one at all.

So again, there’s a waiting game in play.

Speaking of waiting games, Colorado could also be interested in Lindy Ruff, but he’s currently coaching Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships in Sweden/Finland.

Ergo, it looks like the Avs will indeed take their time — but not that much time.

Thanks to the lockout-shortened season, several key organizational dates are creeping up. The first is the NHL Draft on June 30 — the Avs pick first overall — followed by the start of free agency on July 5 (yes, six days later).

Colorado will likely want to have a head coach in place by then.

Mind you, this is Colorado.

Note 1: Colorado could make a quick and easy hire by promoting Dean Chynoweth from AHL Lake Erie. Dater pegged him as a potential replacement when Sacco was first dismissed.

Note 2: On the Patrick Roy front, new hockey ops chief Joe Sakic said “you don’t want to just bring in some guy from junior,” when discussing his potential coaching hire(s).

That could be a hint that Roy won’t be considered, given he’s been coaching at the Quebec junior level since 2003.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
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Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.