The first round of the 2019 NHL Draft is in 13 days, and the Anaheim Ducks have yet to hire a head coach. Will they walk into Draft Day without a new bench boss?
One of General Manager Bob Murray‘s best and worst qualities is his ability to stay tight-lipped. As they say, loose lips sink ships. However, this has also worked out to benefit the Anaheim Ducks franchise tremendously. They rarely get scrutinized over things that may or may not happen and the unexpected moves are always a nice treat. Nevertheless, the anticipation can sometimes be excruciatingly painful.
At the top of GMBM’s summer to-do list is hiring a new head coach for his team. While he did a much better job behind the bench than his predecessor, Randy Carlyle, Murray’s plate is too full with General Manager mumbo jumbo to resume to the role of head coach, nor is he fit to run the team for an entire season. So, a new bench boss is number one priority.
However, Bob Murray has taken his own sweet time and the Anaheim Ducks are now the last team on a list of seven to hire a new coach. While taking some time to make such a tough decision is not the worst idea in the world, especially after this past season, the weeks since the end of the regular season have flown by and the potential pool of coaching candidates has almost dried up.
Does Going into the Draft Without a Head Coach Make a Difference?
While it is doubtful that the Anaheim Ducks and Bob Murray will go into the draft without naming their new head coach, the closer we get to draft day, the more the question of whether or not a new coach will be chosen before the draft still lingers. It really makes no difference for the Ducks either way, but the draft, this year in particular, is going to be all-consuming for Bob Murray as he makes decisions that could ultimately make or break the future of his team.
More from Ducks News
- Who could the Anaheim Ducks consider presenting offer sheets to?
- Is Pierre-Luc Dubois on the cards for the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks?
- Making the case for the Anaheim Ducks to trade with the Edmonton Oilers
- Anaheim Ducks might benefit tremendously by trading John Gibson
- How close are the Anaheim Ducks to becoming contenders again?
Waiting this long to hire a coach also poses its own issues. As mentioned, there is now a shortage of available coaching candidates now that the six other teams have already chosen their heir apparent. Choosing a coach prior to the draft brings no extra benefits for Bob Murray, but it would put his fanbase at ease and offer us a little time to breathe before we get into the stressful season of the draft and free agency.
The good news is, the Anaheim Ducks have a list of candidates that is reminiscent of a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. San Diego Gulls head coach, Dallas Eakins, is certainly near the top, but among the other candidates are Lane Lambert, Todd Nelson, and Rick Bowness. Up until yesterday, Scott Sandelin was considered to be a dark horse candidate but he had recently signed a four-year contract extension with Minnesota-Duluth, taking him out of the running.
The Anaheim Ducks Coaching Candidates
Dallas Eakins: Dallas Eakins is currently the head coach for the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, and is really the only candidate Ducks Nation is 100% familiar with. Despite his time in Edmonton being looked at as a failure, the current AHL coach has spent the last four seasons breathing life to the San Diego Gulls organization.
The club has yet to finish under .500 during Eakins four year tenure with the team. He is familiar with the up and coming players and had a great reputation as being a player-centered coach. Eakins would offer a fresh perspective for the veterans while also having a keen awareness of what works for the rookies and how to push them to be their best and continue their development.
He has experience behind the bench as the “big cheese” so being a head coach in the NHL is not new territory for him. Nevertheless, he has had five years to reflect on the error of his ways, and he seems to be in tune with what he needs to change about his coaching style should he be hired, and has had tremendous success going forward.
Lane Lambert: Lane Lambert is currently the associate coach for the New York Islanders, under Barry Trotz. After winning the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2017-18, Trotz left the organization for and shockingly agreed to a position with the New York Islanders who had just come off their worst season since 2013-14 and hadn’t been much better in between.
Lambert followed, taking a position as the associate coach. Since taking a position with the Islanders, Trotz, with the help of Lambert turned the Islanders into a Stanley Cup contending team. Although they were knocked out in the first round, they were, aside from the St. Louis Blues, one of the Cinderella Stories of the 2018-19 season.
Lambert would offer support, stability, and structure to the Anaheim Ducks roster, especially defensively. Considering the last season, that is something the Ducks could benefit from tremendously. The strategies he has learned during his years as Barry Trotz right-hand man, especially turning the New York Islanders into a success story, could translate really well behind the bench and be specifically what the Ducks need to get back to their winning ways.
Todd Nelson: Todd Nelson currently works with the Dallas Stars organization as one of their assistant coaches. He, like Dallas Eakins, has coaching experience with none other than the Edmonton Oilers. While one might say he too failed at the NHL level, the Oilers weren’t doing their coaches any favors.
Nelson, despite his stint in Edmonton, has had tremendous success coaching at an AHL level, specifically with the Grand Rapids Griffins, leading them to a Calder Cup win in 2017. He is often praised for his incredible work on the power play, and if chosen, he could have a big hand in re-sparking the Anaheim Ducks lifeless and defective special teams.
While the Ducks need work defensively, there is also a lot of work that needs to be done to their offense. Nelson is often known as a coach who runs an offensively driven team, focusing on getting the puck to the net as often as possible. Having a coach like Nelson behind the bench would rejuvenate the Ducks as well as bring them up to date with the latest style in the NHL.
Rick Bowness: Rick Bowness has more experience as an NHL head coach than any of the other Anaheim Ducks candidates. He has 9 seasons of NHL coaching experience with the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, and most recently, the Pheonix Coyotes. However, there is both good and bad news with Bowness.
Unfortunately, he has had limited success as an NHL coach. He had a decent run with the Boston Bruins in 1991-92, leading them to a second place finish in their division and the Eastern Conference Finals. His career points percentage is .321, which leaves room for doubt.
However, Bowness has stepped out of the coaching limelight over the past few years and settled for several positions as an assistant coach and has thrived. Currently, he is working with the Dallas Stars organization. He is the kind of coach who could possibly have successes at taking both old school’s of thought and combining them successfully with the new style of hockey, unlike Randy Carlyle at the beginning of the 2018-19 season.
He is often applauded for his work with developing young defenders, such as Victor Hedman and Miro Heiskanen. With younger players like Brendan Guhle and Jacob Larsson looking to make their big break into the NHL full time, a coach who is willing to help them develop like Bowness would be beneficial for the blueline. The Anaheim Ducks also have several great defenders in Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, and Hampus Lindholm, but even players like them could benefit from a coach who is more than willing to offer them more structure.
Who is your favorite candidate to take over as the Anaheim Ducks next bench boss? Let us know by leaving a comment for us down in the comment section below or finding us on Facebook or Twitter.