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Coaches To Keep An Eye On: Five future NHL bench bosses

You can’t fire the players, so when struggling NHL teams look to shake things up behind the bench, watch for these up-and-coming hockey minds to be in the mix

Dominique Ducharme, Montreal Canadiens
He has won a Memorial Cup with Halifax and a gold medal at the world juniors with Team Canada. Now Ducharme, 45, has his first NHL post as an assistant coach with the Canadiens. Montreal also hired Joel Bouchard to head AHL Laval. Both men are great talents with bright futures.

Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Marlies
His teams play with skill and pace, and his Toronto Marlies have an AHL title to show for it. Keefe, 37, is buddies with Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, but Toronto has Mike Babcock behind the bench. Babcock’s assistant D.J. Smith is another young coach who’s already attracting interest elsewhere.

Pascal Vincent, Manitoba Moose
The Winnipeg Jets utilized a lot of their top young talents last season, leaving the AHL’s Moose a little threadbare. Nevertheless, Vincent was able to bring the team together and jump 24 points in the standings year over year. Every facet of the Moose’s game improved, and they got a playoff berth out of it, while Vincent, 46, was named AHL coach of the year.

Rickard Gronborg, Swedish National Team
It’s only a matter of time before a European coach gets another crack at an NHL bench, and Gronborg is at the top of the list. Not only does he have a great track record of success with Sweden’s national squad (three World Championship golds in six years and one WJC gold before that), but he knows the North American game. Gronborg, 50, played college hockey at St. Cloud State, then coached over here for a decade in various junior leagues.

Scott Sandelin, Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
With two national championships in the past eight years, Sandelin has turned the University of Minnesota-Duluth into an NCAA powerhouse. Sandelin, 54, had several cups of coffee in the NHL as a defenseman, and now he’s churning out blueliners with the Bulldogs. Some of his grads include Justin Faulk, Neal Pionk and Carson Soucy. As NHL teams begin to turn to college coaches, Sandelin will be in demand very soon.

This story appears in the Season Preview 2018-19 issue of The Hockey News magazine.

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