Well the Chicago Wolves are again on the hunt for a new head coach behind their bench this upcoming season. The Wolves former “boss” Craig MacTavish took an executive position with his former team the Edmonton Oilers. General Manager Wendell Young is now searching for the organization’s 4th coach since they won the Calder Cup (2008).
It was no surprise that MacTavish wasn’t going to stay long in the Vancouver’s organization. With Alain Vigneault signing a 2 year extension to stay as the head coach for the Canucks it further strengthed the point that the former Oiler would be exiting.
Below is what MacTavish accomplished with his time in Chicago.
Games Coached: 76
Overtime/Shootout Losses: 7
Winning Percentage: .599
The winning percentage that he obtained was his highest in a head coaching position since he started in 2000 with the Edmonton Oilers.
The disappointment came when the Wolves started on the road to face San Antonio Rampage in the playoffs and dropped the first two games before coming home and forcing a game 5, in which they ultimately lost.
There was some chatter from the higher ups in Vancouver that they weren’t impressed with MacTavish’s overall job for the season. From my vantage point there was a lot of teaching going on from him, but at times moves were made that made many scratch their heads. Whatever the case he is moving on to Edmonton (where many thought he would end up) and the coach searching is now on.
The Wolves seem to be the busiest team in the AHL in the last 2 years dealing with a new affiliation, and announcing personal moves. But who could be the leading candidate to become the new coach?
All eyes point toward former Mannitoba Moose coach Scott Arniel. Arniel has been doing some scouting for the Canucks over the past year and knows the system from top to bottom. He is the former head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets and started scouting for the Canucks after his firing in January.
Below are some quotes courtesy of the Calgary Herald.
"It is something that appeals to me," Arniel said over the phone from Winnipeg. "But, in saying that, we obviously haven't gone anywhere yet. Like you, I just saw the news that broke today."
"I knew something was going on because my phone has been buzzing like crazy," Arniel said. "You know what? It is interesting. As a coach, you're always looking at opportunities. I want to be an NHL head coach again, but I don't know if there is anything for me this year. Certainly there are some assistant jobs available, but this one (Wolves) is intriguing.”
It would be a perfect fit for the Canucks to continue to develop their minor league system and have a coach that has been a part of the team. I haven’t heard of any other names out there that are front runners like Arniel, but there a few former Wolves that have been mentioned for an assistant’s role.
Last year Jamie Rivers was mentioned for an assistant’s job on MacTavish’s team before they decided to go with only one. Another name that has been thrown around is Steve Martins, who currently is an ambassador for the Wolves, doing appearances and autograph signings. Both would be great minds to have behind the bench and can show the young players what it takes to get to the next level.
But the first notion has to be the head coaching job and with Arniel, I think it’s just a matter of time before he is behind the bench at the Allstate Arena.