Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is under a time crunch when it comes to naming a new coach, especially with training camp less than a month away, and he has reportedly already assembled a list that has some interesting candidates.
Sakic has said that he would assemble his list of candidates quickly and start the process as soon as possible, and it appears he has stuck to his word in looking for a replacement for Patrick Roy, who shockingly resigned from the team on Aug. 11.
According to the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers, Sakic is looking at two AHL coaches — the Cleveland Monsters’ Jared Bednar and Utica Comets’ Travis Green — as well as Washington Capitals assistant Lane Lambert and New York Rangers assistant Scott Arniel as potential coaches with the “preliminary phase of the interview process” set to begin.
The two more intriguing names in that cluster of coaches are the AHL coaches, both of whom have had significant success over the past few seasons.
Green has been one of the most highly regarded AHL coaches over the past couple of campaigns and his named has been bandied about as the next coach ready to make the leap from the AHL to the NHL. His work with Utica, the farm team of the Vancouver Canucks, has seen the Comets head to two straight post-seasons with a Calder Cup final appearance in 2014-15. Even this past season’s first-round elimination was impressive considering how dismantled Green’s roster was by injury.
Green also comes with a WHL title under his belt during his time with the Portland Winterhawks. Promoted early in the season from his spot as an assistant, Green’s Winterhawks went 37-8-2 during his tenure and only lost five games during their playoff run. Portland wound up dropping the Memorial Cup final, but it rocketed Green to the AHL.
That Green would be involved in the coaching discussion in Colorado was a virtual certainty given the interest he has had over the past two off-seasons, which makes Bednar’s inclusion in the Avalanche coaching search all the more interesting.
Bednar has worked his way up the coaching ranks all the way from the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, where he started as an assistant in 2002-03. He has spent each of the past four seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization, first as an AHL assistant before taking over as the club’s coach in 2014-15.
The Falcons missed the post-season in their first year under Bednar, but he led the group to a Calder Cup this past-season. During the incredible playoff run, the Monsters swept three of four opponents, including the Hershey Bears in the final.
As for the NHL assistants, Lambert as an NHL coach would be an interesting choice. Lambert has spent the past five years as an assistant under Barry Trotz and has worked with Trotz in some capacity for nearly a decade. Before joining Trotz’s bench, Lambert spent five seasons as an AHL coach under Trotz’s Nashville Predators. The amount he’s picked up from Trotz could have prepared him to take over an NHL bench.
The one edge Arniel may have over the other three coaches Chambers revealed as candidates, though, is that the New York Rangers associate coach has a ton of top level experience. He has spent eight seasons behind an NHL bench, including one and a half as coach of the Blue Jackets.
Chambers said the quartet of bench bosses may not be the only ones Sakic is focused on, however, which still leaves plenty of options open. Sakic may need some alternatives, too, because each of the four bench bosses who have made the first reported short list are under contract in some way.
Sakic may need to get lucky to pry Bednar or Green away from their respective AHL benches, especially with the season so close, and the Capitals and Rangers may not be too keen on letting an NHL assistant walk with less than a month to find a replacement.
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