Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon is staying true to his word.
He promised a “lengthier” and “thorough” process when starting the search for the third coach in franchise history May 16 and didn’t provide a timeline for when a hire would be made. The hunt continues almost a month later, and neither the Knights nor the other teams looking to fill vacancies seem to be in any rush.
There are six NHL openings and three teams with interim coaches that also could make a change. The Knights declined to comment on their search, but here is an updated look at the landscape:
Vacancies: Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Knights, Philadelphia and Winnipeg.
Interim coaches: Chicago (Derek King), Edmonton (Jay Woodcroft) and Florida (Andrew Brunette).
Filled: New York Islanders (Lane Lambert).
Little has changed since the Knights fired Pete DeBoer.
The number of openings, rather than dwindling, has grown by one after the Bruins fired coach Bruce Cassidy last week. His addition makes a star-studded veteran coaching market even more crowded. Stanley Cup winners Barry Trotz, John Tortorella and Claude Julien were already available, as well as experienced hands Paul Maurice and Rick Tocchet.
Trotz, in particular, probably can pick his destination after leading Washington to the 2018 Stanley Cup and the Islanders to semifinal appearances in 2020 and 2021. Cassidy, who said he hopes to return to an NHL bench as “soon as possible,” could be in the same situation. Teams might wait to fill their openings until Trotz and Cassidy decide what they want to do.
Cassidy said he has talked to “a number of teams.” The 57-year-old coached the Bruins for parts of six seasons and was 245-108-46 (.672 points percentage). Boston was second in points percentage, second in wins, 10th in goals per game, first in goals against per game, third on the power play and third on the penalty kill during his tenure.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney called Cassidy “terrific” when explaining the firing, but said how the coach’s message was being delivered and received fell short by the end of his lengthy tenure.
“He’s able to push the buttons that are necessary,” Sweeney said. “But it takes its toll. Over the course of time, it takes its toll.”
Cassidy is connected to the Knights because he worked under president of hockey operations George McPhee in 2002 and 2003 in Washington. But he’s just one of several qualified candidates.
The Knights have plenty of competition for those coaches, and it will become more competitive if Chicago, Edmonton or Florida decide to make a switch.
The Oilers reached the Western Conference Final under Woodcroft, and the Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy with Brunette. The Blackhawks were 27-33-10 under King and appear headed toward a lengthy rebuild.
The Knights’ combination of talent, facilities and commitment to winning make them an attractive destination. They finished just three points out of a playoff spot.
The Red Wings, Flyers and Jets failed to make the playoffs, too. The Bruins and Stars lost in the first round. Boston’s roster also comes with uncertainty because captain Patrice Bergeron is mulling retirement, and leading scorer Brad Marchand (hips) and No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy (left shoulder) are expected to miss time after undergoing offseason surgeries.
The Knights have salary cap issues — they have almost no space before retaining any of their free agents — but DeBoer said in his final media availability “you’re never going to complain about being a cap team ever as a coach.”
The Knights should be able to land someone near the top of their list if that’s true. It just remains to be seen when the decision will be made.
“We’re not bound by any dates, certainly, here in the short term,” McCrimmon said in May.
Contact Ben Gotz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.