Detroit — Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has choices, that’s for sure.
In his search for a head coach to replace Jeff Blashill, Yzerman has a long, long list of available candidates. Be it from the NHL, the minor leagues, the NCAA or Europe.
There are plenty of available candidates — many of them with impressive, winning resumes, and strengths that would appear to fit what Yzerman is looking for.
Yzerman is looking for a candidate who can push the Wings, demand accountability and make the Wings play better defensively.
There is no timeline for Yzerman to name a new coach. Yzerman mentioned in his end-of-season press availability — while also announcing Jeff Blashill would not be retained — that he’d like to have a coach in place around the Stanley Cup Finals (mid-June), but it wasn’t mandatory.
Who are some of the leading candidates that are available, or have become available after being let go by other teams?
It has become a lengthier list in the days since Blashill’s dismissal.
Candidates are in alphabetical order:
► Pros: Yzerman has successfully worked with Babcock, and Babcock’s hard-driving style and demand for accountability are what the Wings are looking for. Babcock has likely learned from his stop in Toronto, and he remains popular among a segment of Wings fans. Babock has won a Stanley Cup here, too.
► Cons: Babcock’s bullying revelations in Toronto, and before that with the Wings, still remain attached. At age 59, Babcock might not be in a mood for a rebuilding job. Babcock has one more year on his former Toronto contract at $5 million and may wait to find the perfect landing spot. The Wings may, or may not, be that.
► Pros: Carbery, 40, has been successful at every level he’s coached in the minor leagues and is currently an assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Carbery was in charge of the Leafs’ successful power play, and has been praised for his communicative skills.
► Cons: Carbery doesn’t have much NHL coaching experience, and for that matter, only four years in the AHL. Could be a big payoff, but the lack of NHL experience is somewhat worrisome.
► Pros: Carle coached Denver to the NCAA championship this season, and two Frozen Fours in the past four seasons. Carle has three Wings draft picks on his current roster, the development staff is extremely familiar with him, and is a great tactician.
► Cons: Carle is only 32, and has only been a head coach for four years (assistant at Denver four years prior). It would seem like too little experience for a position like head coach of the Red Wings.
► Pros: DeBoer, 53, is known in the Detroit area having coached the former Plymouth Whalers (OHL) and taken New Jersey and San Jose to the Stanley Cup Finals. DeBoer was fired in Vegas this month after the Golden Knights failed to make the playoffs. DeBoer has coached 1,015 games, and won 513 of them in the NHL.
► Cons: DeBoer might be more suited for a playoff contender rather a rebuilding project. He’s had veteran teams in recent years, and there was turmoil with some players in Vegas. DeBoer has yet to finish a fourth season with an NHL team.
► Pros: A successful Swedish national team coach who currently coaches a Swiss pro team, Gronborg, 53, has been mentioned as a serious candidate for several jobs in recent years. Nicklas Lidstrom, the Wings’ former Hall of Fame defenseman and current front-office executive, is a fan of Gronberg’s work.
► Cons: The NHL has only had two European head coaches — and both failed miserably. Gronberg’s lack of NHL experience might work against him. The perception is there that North American players might be hesitant to play for a European coach.
► Pros: Yzerman hired Groulx to coach Tampa’s AHL team in Syracuse in 2016, and Groux has been one of the league’s most successful coaches. He knows how to develop players, should be comfortable in a rebuilding situation, and knows Yzerman well.
► Cons: He has little NHL experience, though Groulx, 54, was, reportedly a finalist for the Arizona job last year. He might be a bit older for a rebuilding job, with little NHL experience.
Pros: Lalonde, 49, has been on Jon Cooper’s staff in Tampa since 2018 and is regarded as one of the NHL’s top assistant coaches. Yzerman hired Lalonde in Tampa. Lalonde is known as a “players’ coach” and has been successful in the minor leagues.
Cons: Lalonde may prefer to stay in a highly successful program in Tampa, with no signs of slowing down.
► Pros: The former Detroit Compuwares junior coach (1990-95) has been highly successful with Carolina, Toronto and Winnipeg, taking Carolina to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002 before falling to the Wings. He’s a great communicator and gets a lot out of his teams.
► Cons: When Maurice, 55, left Winnipeg in the middle of this season, it appeared burn-out was a key reason. Maurice may not be a perfect fit for a rebuilding job like this one. He may not be ready to jump in, at all, right now, after 23 years and 1,685 games in the NHL.
► Pros: A fiery coach who got every ounce of the Arizona Coyotes when Tocchet was there, he is currently a national television analyst. Tocchet gets players’ attention and plays an up-tempo style. He could stir the fan base, too.
► Cons: He has no experience with Yzerman — in fact, Tocchet was fired in Tampa shortly before Yzerman took over — and you wonder how Toccchet’s hard-driving approach would mesh with this roster.
► Pros: Tortorella has won a Stanley Cup in Tampa (2004) and won Columbus’ only playoff series (2019) in its organization’s history. He’s another veteran coach who demands accountability and has generated team success quickly in previous stops.
► Cons: Tortorella, 64 in a few weeks, might be eyeing some teams closer to the playoffs (Vegas, Philadelphia, possibly Florida). Some of Tortorella’s strengths fit the Wings’ needs, but his tough-love style can rattle a team.
► Pros: Trotz won the Stanley Cup in Washington in 2018 and recently took the New York Islanders to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Tampa. Trotz was fired earlier this month after a season in which the Islanders didn’t make the playoffs, after a season-opening 13-game road trip, terrible COVID issues and an aging lineup.
Cons: Trotz, 60, has one more year on his contract, reportedly around $4 million. Trotz is rumored to be looking to have a say in personnel matters, too, which will not be possible in Detroit. Taking over a rebuilding team might not be appealing, either.
Pros: A three-time Stanley Cup-winning coach in Chicago who has won 969 games in his career and is from nearby Windsor, Quenneville is a proven winner and has thrived with younger and older players.
Cons: Quenneville, 63, was fired in Florida earlier this season when his part in the Chicago Blackhawks’ sexual-abuse scandal cover-up came out. The aroma might still be around Quenneville, whose return to the NHL would need to be OK’d by commissioner Gary Bettman.