A Closer Look At Other Possible Head Coaches

Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Hurricanes head coach job - Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ulf Samuelsson, John Stevens, Guy Boucher, and even Eddie Olczyk are all possible candidates

We have already taken a closer look at the top three choices in our Canes Country new coach poll, Barry Trotz, Kevin Dineen, and John Tortorella.  Now it's time to take a look at some of the other top choices.

(By the way, according to this report in the Washington Post, the Canes have been in contact with Trotz, as have the Capitals and Panthers.)

The fourth place finisher in our poll, Peter Laviolette, was hired last week by the Nashville Predators.  This should be a good hire for the Preds.

Rod Brind'Amour finished in fifth, but we all know that "Brindy" has little coaching experience and has never been a head coach in the AHL or NHL.  Realistically, is it too soon for him to step in and be head man?

A small group of other possibilities round out the list. We will look at them one at a time.

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Ulf Samuelsson's name has come up repeatedly by many pundits.  Samuelsson is a long time assistant in the NHL, (from 2006-11 for the Coyotes and 2013-present for the Rangers), but he has never been a head coach in the league.

He left the NHL for a couple of years to be head coach of the famous Swedish team, Modo, but had two losing seasons and returned to being an NHL assistant in 2013.

What makes him a good candidate, other than being a former teammate and long time friend of Ron Francis?  If he is hired, we will have to see what the Carolina GM says about that.

Wikipedia describes him as having the "reputation for being the dirtiest player in the history of the NHL".  As a player, he was well known for questionable hits, including one that may have shortened the career of Bruins great, Cam Neely.  Check some of his hits out on you tube and make your own decision.

The Hurricanes definitely need to toughen up a bit and could use a grittier persona.  Perhaps Samuelsson's personality can help in that respect, but does he have the organizational skills and overall ability to run a team?   In any respect, he seems to be a front-runner according to some in the mainstream hockey media.

Check out this interview next, from when he was hired by the Rangers:


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Guy Boucher is another coach who did very well in the NHL over a short period of time, but then for some reason, quickly wore out his welcome.

Boucher was a long time assistant and successful head coach in junior hockey until he got his first major shot in 2009 when he was hired by Montreal to be head coach of their affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs.  He made the most of his chance as he led them to a 52-17-11 record, while winning coach of the year honors.

The next season he was initially offered the head coaching job for the Blue Jackets, but turned it down and was hired by the Lightning soon afterward.

In his first season in Tampa, he led them to a 46-25-11 record and a Southeast Division championship.  The team went on to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the Bruins in seven games.

After a disappointing season following his debut, where they failed to make the playoffs, Boucher was fired after a 13-18-1 start to the lockout shortened 2012-13 season.

He coached a Swiss team last season, where he is under contract for two more seasons, (although many European contracts have "out clauses" for an NHL gig.)

Boucher has a great lifetime winning percentage of .546 for the regular season and .611 for the playoffs, but his name has not been mentioned in Carolina's search.

Interestingly enough, in the following interview Boucher was asked about his team's slow start in a game, to which the coach said that it was unacceptable and would be addressed.  He said it was both a mental and physical problem and the team's "activation level" had to be better.


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John Stevens is currently an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings but was head coach for the Flyers for four years where he had good times and bad.  He actually had a winning record when he was fired, (13-11-1).  His overall record was 120-109-34, good for a .521 lifetime winning percentage.

He guided the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008 and was named NHL Coach of the Year by The Hockey News.

Stevens has also paid his dues and coached for six years in the AHL, qualifying for the playoffs four of those six years with the Phantoms.  In 2005, they won the Calder Cup.  His overall record in the AHL was 230-181-58, good for a .552 winning percentage.

Vancouver was reportedly close to hiring him last season before hiring Tortorella and he could be in line for that job again this summer.

He is a short segment on Stevens.


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Last but not least, in this report is Eddie Olczyk.

Some of you might be asking, why Eddie Olczyk?  For starters, his name was mentioned as a possibility by well respected hockey journalist, Bob McKenzie.  Then Chuck Kaiton also mentioned him as a possibility when asked by Adam Gold on 99.9 The Fan.

Olczyk has not coached in the NHL since the 2005-06 season.  He only has a season and a half of NHL head coaching experience.  He went 23-47-12 his first year in 2003-04 with the Penguins and then was fired 31 games into the 2005-06 season with a 8-17-6 record.

His lifetime NHL record is 31-64-18, for a .354 winning percentage.

Why would McKenzie and Kaiton be mentioning him for the Carolina job, and no others?  Because he is good friends with Ron Francis.

Olczyk, who is currently NBC's top hockey analyst, went from playing, to the booth, to coaching, and then back to the booth after he was released from coaching.  If he is hired, it might be considered around the league as the equivalent of hiring Tripp Tracy to be head coach, or Barry Melrose.

As a player, he scored 794 points in 1031 games and was named to the USA Hockey Hall of Fame.  He is obviously an excellent speaker and could be a good teacher and leader.  But it would be one heck of a gamble, to hire him as head coach.

This is Ron Francis' first major decision as General Manager and he will be watched closely.  Hopefully, this decision will be a good one for him as well as the Hurricanes.

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In other news, TSN is reporting that Kirk Muller signed a two-year deal to be assistant coach in St. Louis.  We wish him well.

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