The two coaches discussed on the last page are arguably not even the most controversial potential hires for the Jackets, believe it or not. In fact, my favorite candidate comes with his own skeleton in the closet.
If I were making the choice here, or at least taking part in the interviews, Andrew Brunette is right near the top of my list of potential hires. He checks the boxes as far as what I think this franchise could use: he’s an up and coming coach who has a history of working with his players, rather than butting heads. He’s offensive minded, and he has a great track record behind the bench.
In fact, the only reason I can see the team not giving “Bruno” serious consideration, is his DUI arrest last year. That said, the Boston Bruins gave Jim Montgomery a second chance after alcohol issues, and look at where it got them. Someone is going to give that chance to Brunette – very soon.
Brunette took over for Joel Quenneville in Florida last year, and casually led the Panthers to a 51-18-6 record in 75 games – winning the President’s Trophy in the process. They got bounced in the second round of the playoffs, leading to his demise – but all he did was go to New Jersey as an assistant, helping the Devils to a 49-point improvement over last season. Give me some of that.
The other name we should bring up here? The other man mentioned in the last paragraph, Joel Quenneville. If you want to talk about skeletons in someone’s closet, look no further than a man who was ousted from the NHL last season – and with good reason.
But, Quenneville is meeting with Gary Bettman this summer, in an attempt to get himself re-instated to the NHL. And, as things go in sports, a successful track record means that he will get an opportunity somewhere, probably immediately. That said, my best guess here is that he’ll get hired on as an assistant to start, with hopes of keeping him out of the spotlight for awhile.
And, I don’t see that happening with the Blue Jackets. Personally, I feel like we can cross “Q” right off our list. As we have done with recently fired Rangers coach Gerard Gallant, who hasn’t even interviewed for the job thus far.
Aside from any other candidates popping up, to me, it feels like this opportunity is really down to Peter Laviolette and Pascal Vincent. I may be wrong, especially with the team mentioning this week that they’re going to extend their search beyond the World Championships. That could mean that they’re not fully on board with everything they see so far, or that there is another candidate that they are hoping to see available. We’ll keep following this story closely, all the way up until a hire is made.