It is almost mid-June now and the Carolina Hurricanes still do not have a head coach.
While Ron Francis has been very quiet about his search, (and rightfully so), the word on the street is that the GM is waiting to speak to one or more of the coaches still involved in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Rangers Assistant Coach Ulf Samuelsson is reportedly on that list and possibly Kings Assistant Coach, John Stevens, as well.
Now that the Kings have a stranglehold on the final series, it would seem that the search may soon becoming to a head.
While Francis has yet to name names, a few interviewees identities have been thrown out by the hockey media outside of the local area.
Jacques Martin's name has been mentioned and most recently Elliotte Friedman reported that the Canes interviewed Todd Nelson, the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers affiliate, Oklahoma City Barons.
As our friend, David Staples writes in his article at the Cult of Hockey in the Edmonton Journal, Nelson has done a fine job and is starting to draw national attention. In his four years with the Barons, he made the playoffs each year and has a winning percentage of over .590.
One name that has not yet been publicly linked to Carolina is newly fired coach, Dan Bylsma. The former Jack Adams award winner, who was ironically fired by new Pens GM, Jim Rutherford, is officially on the open market.
Dale Tallon, GM of the Florida Panthers, has made no secret of his desire to hire the coach. There are multiple reports, (rumors), that the two of them are meeting soon and that an offer will be made.
While Byslma may have had trouble in the playoffs, (.551 winning percentage), he has an amazing regular season winning percentage of .660. It certainly would be a twist of fate if Rutherford's former team would hire the coach he fired, as his very first directive after taking over his new team.
There is another rumor that the Canes want to go cheap on this hire and that Bylsma and other experienced coaches will be out of Carolina's price range. Although, now that Jim Rutherford is off the books, that might open up some more cash.
If Bylsma and Francis are talking, it's been kept very quiet.
This is an extremely important hire for the new Hurricanes general manager, one that might define his managing career, and he seems to be going about this the proper way. There is no rush on this decision.
As soon as the Stanley Cup Final is over, things should start picking up and the Canes should soon have their new head coach, whomever it might be.