Tag: coaching news

Anaheim Ducks v San Jose Sharks

Ducks hand coach Randy Carlyle a three-year contract extension

There are plenty of teams that seem unpredictable heading into the 2011-12 season, but the Anaheim Ducks might be the toughest to gauge.

On one hand, they have the best trio of power forwards in the league: 2011 Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, outstanding center Ryan Getzlaf and still-improving American winger Bobby Ryan. The Ducks also have explosive offensive defensemen in Lubomir Visnovsky and Cam Fowler (who just completed an impressive rookie season).

The problem is that the Ducks’ question marks are just as big as their burly, high-scoring forwards. Their defense ranged from mediocre to awful last season and it didn’t get much better during the summer. (In fact, hard-shooting defenseman Kurtis Foster might be a downgrade from Andy Sutton – at least in the Ducks’ end.) Of course, the biggest problem is that goalie Jonas Hiller’s vertigo issues seem unresolved. If you ask me, Hiller deserves consideration among the NHL’s most valuable goalies because of all the leaks he plugs with his leg pads. The Ducks might also have even more trouble providing secondary scoring if Teemu Selanne retires.

In other words, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle has his hands full. On the bright side, contract worries won’t be at the top of his mind, though; the team handed him a contract extension that runs through the 2013-14 season today. It’s technically a three-year extension, although the 2011-12 season will be part of the deal. Financial terms haven’t been disclosed.

Carlyle has enjoyed a great run behind the Ducks’ bench, which you can see from this summary from the team.

Carlyle, 55 (4/19/56), was named the seventh head coach in team history on Aug. 1, 2005 and has since led the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup championship (2007), Pacific Division championship (2007) and five playoff appearances in six seasons (2005-09, 2011). Only one NHL coach has won more postseason games than Carlyle’s 36 since 2005-06 (Mike Babcock). Carlyle has the most wins and highest winning percentage in Ducks history, compiling a 266-169-57 record in 492 regular season contests (.599 winning percentage).

There were some who were calling for Carlyle’s head early last season when the team got off to a very slow start, but the Ducks stood by him and it paid off with a breathtaking run to the playoffs. The Ducks have provided him with some nice talent over the years, but his track record is still very impressive considering the rigors of the Pacific Division and Western Conference.

That being said, the 2011-12 season could be his toughest test yet. If he can get this talented but deeply flawed Ducks team to the playoffs again, then he deserves every undisclosed penny he’ll receive.

Buffalo Sabres promote Kevyn Adams to assistant coach

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Generally speaking, the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes weren’t exactly known for their defense-minded play or excelling at “doing the small things.” If you ask me, that team won because it sent wave after wave of dangerous forwards after opponents, pushed the pace from their defense and leaned heavily on then-rookie goalie Cam Ward.

Yet even an oddball team like that post-lockout Canes squad had its fair share of blue collar workers, from Mike Commodore and his giant red afro to the two Adams: Kevyn and Craig. They weren’t siblings, but sometimes it seemed that way considering how willing they were to do the dirty work to help that team win.

While Craig continues to ply his versatile, lime-light-deflecting trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kevyn Adams retired in 2009 and joined the Buffalo Sabres organization as a player development coach. Apparently the Sabres are liking what they’re seeing with him because they announced that Adams will be an assistant coach for Lindy Ruff next season.

Ruff will probably need some good assistants to lean on in 2011-12 because there will be plenty of pressure to succeed after Buffalo spent big (and often) during its first off-season with Terry Pegula as their owner. It sounds like Adams will probably work primarily with forwards, which makes perfect sense considering the fact that he has 10 years of NHL experience to back up his points.

“Kevyn is going to work with the forwards, and be involved in the special teams, and continue the development work with the players. I’ve got some different thoughts on our special teams, and I’d like to utilize all three coaches. I think that’s how you develop,” Ruff explains. “Kevyn may be a voice in one or the other, and I’ve talked to him about it. I don’t think solely do I want either coach just to run either (the power play or penalty kill).

In a strange way, this must be a dream come true (or at least half-true) because Adams grew up as a Sabres fan but never played for Buffalo during his journeyman NHL career.

A native of Clarence, NY, Adams is thrilled about having the opportunity to further his coaching career with his hometown team. Adams even mentioned how his father reminisced with him yesterday about the two of them sitting with in the last row of the orange seats at The Aud while he was growing up. Not having played with the Sabres during his 10-year NHL career, Adams relishes the chance to finally be part of the team’s success.

“The one thing that I have is there was a passion in me from the time I was four or five years old being a Sabres fan. Then you lose that when you playing because all you want to do is win, wherever you are. When Darcy and Lindy called me a couple of years ago and this first opportunity came, I was so eager to get started and so excited about it, and it’s built from there. This next step is something I can’t wait to wrap my arms around and go after.”

(Screen shot via Buffalo Sabres.com.)

Coaching hires: Habs add Cunneyworth and Ladouceur, Jets nab Vincent


NHL teams continue to tweak their coaching staffs this summer. Let’s take a look at four of today’s moves featuring two different teams.

Cunneyworth and Ladouceur might be familiar to NHL fans since they both enjoyed lengthy playing careers. Cunneyworth played 15 seasons in the NHL and also bounced around the AHL a bit during a span that ranged from 1981-1999. Ladouceur appeared in 14 NHL seasons from 1982-1996. Some will remember them for those long careers while others might recall that their skills didn’t exactly “translate well” to video games.

The duo helped the Bulldogs earn a 44-27-9 record (97 points), good enough for a North Division title. The Bulldogs made it to the Western Conference finals before bowing to the Houston Aeros.

Here’s a little more about Cunneyworth:

Before joining the Bulldogs, Cunneyworth was an assistant coach with the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers for two seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10). He previously spent nine seasons with the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans, including seven seasons as head coach from 2000 to 2008. During his tenure with the Americans, he led his team to three 40-plus win seasons, two 100-point seasons and six playoff berths. He left Rochester as the longest serving coach in franchise history and ranks second on the club’s all-time wins list.

The Canadiens shared more details about Ladouceur’s career as well.

Randy Ladouceur is returning to the NHL, where he served for ten seasons as an assistant coach between 1996 and 2008.

Ladouceur began his coaching career as an assistant with the Hartford Whalers in 1996-97. The franchise then moved to Carolina, where he served for seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Hurricanes (1997 to 2004). Following a full season as head coach of the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League in 2005-06, he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching staff as an assistant for two seasons (2006-07 and 2007-08). Before joining the Bulldogs, he was assistant coach with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs (2009-10).

  • Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets’ new look coaching staff seems like it’s nearing completion.

The team already hired head coach Claude Noel and a handful of assistants, but TSN reports that they added Pascal Vincent today. Like many of the recent hires, Vincent has been successful in the minor league ranks.

The 39-year-old Vincent coached the Montreal Juniors to a 46-12-10 record in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season.

The Laval, Que., native has an all-time QMJHL coaching record of 429-313-87 to go along with nine playoff series wins.

Red Wings expected to name Western Michigan coach Jeff Blashill as one of their assistants

Mike Babcock, Drew Miller

The Detroit Red Wings have been on the hunt for assistant coaches for quite a while now, especially after wonderfully mustached right hand man Paul MacLean fled for the Ottawa Senators’ head post. Word circulated that the Red Wings would hire two now assistants for bench boss Mike Babcock (pictured) today; the Detroit Free Press reports that Western Michigan coach Jeff Blashill will be one of them.

Blashill only spent one season as the head coach at Western Michigan, leading the team to its first NCAA tournament berth since 1996 after putting together a 19-13-10 record. Here is a little more coaching background on Blashill, according to a profile by Graham Couch of MLive.com.

Assistant coach at Ferris State (1998-2002)
Assistant coach at Miami of Ohio (2002-2008)
Head coach of USHL’s Indiana Ice (2008-2010)
Head coach of Western Michigan (2010-11)

Want some anecdotal discussion of what Blashill brings to the table? Here’s more from Couch’s profile.

“He’s a guy who demands the best out of you all the time and he gets it out of you,” said Michigan State freshman defenseman Torey Krug, who played for Blashill a year ago with the United States Hockey League’s Indiana Ice. “It might be a Monday morning practice after a long weekend and he’ll get in your face and tell you what is.

“One of the things I appreciated with coach Blashill is he’s going to make sure you’re there (mentally). As a player, you appreciate that, maybe not at the moment because he’s in your face screaming at you, but you appreciate it in the end.”

The Red Wings are expected to make Blashill and one other assistant coaching hire official later today. We’ll let you know who the other assistant ends up being (and confirm Blashill’s hire) once that happens.

The next audition: Kirk Muller expected to become new head coach of Predators’ AHL affiliate

Kirk Muller

It would be surprising if this experiment lasted for more than one season, but TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that Kirk Muller will be named the new head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals (the Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate team) on Monday. After excelling as an assistant coach for the Montreal Canadiens, Muller seemed like one of the hottest coaching prospects available but seemed to come up in second place several times.

Coaching the Admirals might seem like a consolation price for Muller, but it will also provide a great opportunity for him to prove that he can handle a head coaching job. Let’s face it, too: hiring successful AHL coaches is the hot trend among NHL teams right now so he’s probably on the fast track for a job next year (unless he totally flounders in Wisconsin, perhaps).

The biggest winner in this deal is the Predators organization, even if they probably won’t be able to keep Muller around for much longer than Lane Kiffin coached the Tennessee Volunteers.

If there was one point that Predators head coach Barry Trotz hammered home during interviews at the 2011 NHL Awards, it’s that the Predators’ draft picks must go through Milwaukee before they get to Nashville. The Predators organization values the concept of a well-prepared prospect, so sending them through the ringer at the AHL level with the Milwaukee Admirals is part of their patience-centric plan that also provides Trotz with almost unparalleled job security.*

Now they have an NHL-level coach to prepare their prospects for the jump to the NHL level. It will be interesting to see if anything changes during the 2011-12 season, but on first impact, this seems like a great deal for the Predators franchise and a solid (if disappointing) opportunity for Muller.

* – Only Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff has a longer tenure as an NHL head coach.