Now that Brent Sutter has finished dicking over the New Jersey Devils (not that any of my sympathy will be flowing for Lou Lamiorello), it appears that the dust has finally settled in the Northwest Division. In just over two months, 4 of the 5 NW teams changed coaches and two changed their GMs. The Canucks are the only team to keep their existing GM & coaching staff in place. Here's a look at how things shaped up:
M-Double-H readers are surely familiar with the
cluster fuck offseason situation with the Avalanche. GM Francois Giguere was fired on April 13th. About a month later, a long, public courtship with Patrick Roy began, but, in the end, Saint Patrick spurned the clubs advances. As soon as the Roy fiasco ended, the Avalanche belatedly fired Tony Granato and his entire coaching staff (Jacques Cloutier, Dave Barr, Jeff Hackett and PJ DeLuca) on June 3rd.
On that same day, former assistant GM (assistant to the GM) Greg Sherman was promoted to GM, prompting a unified response of "who"? The next day, Sherman surprised no one by naming Lake Erie coach Joe Sacco as the Avs' head coach. Three beloved former Avs - Steve Konowalchuk, Sylvain Lefebvre and Adam Deadmarsh - have been added to the coaching staff, perhaps lessening the sting of an otherwise underwhelming offseason. The Avalanche have yet to name a new goalie coach. BU's Dan Quinn was hired to replace Sacco in Cleveland.
After the Avalanche, the Wild were the second most active this offseason. Head coach Jacques Lemaire announced as soon as the season was over that he would not return, and GM Doug Riseborough was dismissed soon after (April 16th). The Wild searched for a GM in an exact opposite method to that used by the Avalanche; Minnesota performed an exhaustive search, interviewing numerous qualified candidates before settling on former Penguins Assistant GM Chuck Fletcher. In another questionable move, Fletcher then spent several weeks deciding on a coaching candidate before settling on former San Jose assistant Todd Richards. Those crazies in Minnesota have no clue how to run a hockey operation.
It appears that Richards will work with Lemaire's old coaching staff: Mike Ramsey, Matt Shaw and Bob Mason. And Kevin Constantine remains in place as the coach of the AHL Houston Aeros.
After 8 seasons behind the bench, Craig MacTavish was let go by GM Steve Tambellini on April 16th. He was replaced on May 26th with the veteran Pat Quinn. Quinn becomes the first coach since George Burnett in '94-'95 to coach the club without having been a former Oiler. Most of MacTavish's staff is gone too, with only Kelly Buchberger returning; Pete Peeters, Charlie Huddy, Billy Moores and Brian Ross have all been let go. Joining Buchberger on Quinn's staff is former Rangers coach Tom Renney. Edmonton has yet to announce a new goalie coach and video coach to replace Peeters and Ross respectively. Rob Daum, hired as Springfield Falcons coach in February, will be the head coach for the AHL affiliate again next year.
Flames coach and general all-around douchebag Mike Keenan was fired on May 22nd by Calgary GM Darryl Sutter (three weeks after Sutter claimed there would be no major changes). In a bid to out-nepotize (is that a word?) Pierre Lacroix, Sutter replaced Keenan with...younger brother Brent after he managed to wriggle out of his contract with the Devils. Four Sutter brothers are now working in the Flames organization (Duane is director of player personell and Ron is a scout).
Sutter will have a new staff to work with, as Rich Preston, Rob Cookson, David Marcoux and Jim Playfair were not retained as coaches. In their place will be former Quad City coach Ryan McGill and former Flames players Dave Lowry and Jamie McLennan. Playfair, who has played the Granato role for this club, will coach their new AHL affiliate in Abbotsford.
Again, the division champs were the one team without any changes. GM Mike Gillis will return, as will coach Alain Vigneault and his staff (Rick Bowness, Ryan Walter, Darryl Williams, Ian Clark) and Manitoba Moose coach Scott Arniel. Of course, with the pending free agency of the Sedins, Tayler Pyatt, Matthias Ohlund and, the Canucks may end up with a radically different look on the ice next year.