Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson is going to be a busy man this offseason as he embarks on a longer-term rebuild, and one of the top priorities will be finding a permanent head coach.
A few items that helped us come up with our list of potential candidates:
- During the final Blackhawks Pregame Live show of the season on NBC Sports Chicago, Davidson said the Blackhawks aren't looking for a short-term option behind the bench. He hopes the next coach will be part of both the developmental years and also when the team is ready to contend again.
"We want someone that's going to come in and grow with the team," Davidson said. "We don't want any stopgap options. We're looking to bring someone in that's going to come and be a part of this for a long time."
- Last week, Davidson said the Blackhawks have not begun putting together the candidate list yet, and are still building the profile of what they want the next head coach to be. The goal is to have a coach in place by July.
"We want someone that's going to come in and be a great communicator," Davidson said, "hold players accountable for what message they're driving and make sure his vision behind the bench is being executed on the ice and holding everyone accountable to that."
- Davidson mentioned multiple times in his end-of-season press conference that he wants the Blackhawks to play an "up-tempo" brand of hockey moving forward, which is something to consider when evaluating possible coaching prospects.
- And finally, Davidson recently said the Blackhawks aren't "married" to a specific type of coach or person when asked whether the next bench boss will be a hard-nosed veteran or a young up-and-comer.
Given all this information, here are 10 potential options to be the next permanent head coach of the Blackhawks:
A rebuild? Blashill knows all about them. The 48-year-old coach served as the Detroit Red Wings bench boss for the last seven seasons before the organization decided not to renew his contract at the end of this past season. There were some dark years in there, but he's a good coach who played a large role in the development of players like Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin. Just not sure he'd want to hop in line for another long-term rebuild.
Carbery, 40, spent the past season as an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs and most notably oversaw the NHL's best power-play unit. He has head coaching experience at the ECHL, OHL and AHL levels, and has been successful at almost every stop. He's a two-time ECHL Coach of the Year winner and was named AHL Coach of the Year last season after guiding the Hershey Bears to the league's best regular-season record. Carbery is a young coach, understands the developmental process, and also appears to have a bright future as a potential NHL bench boss.
Green, 51, spent the last five seasons with the Vancouver Canucks before being relieved of his duties in December. He coached a young, supremely skilled core group in Vancouver, and understands the importance of communication between players and coaches. It's only a matter of time before he gets another shot as an NHL head coach.
King, 55, was the right coach at the right time for the Blackhawks when he took over on an interim basis in November. They were a fragile hockey team and he helped loosen them up. Davidson said King will "absolutely" have a shot at the permanent gig, and King is also on record saying he would like to be considered. If King doesn't get the full-time job, you have to hope the Blackhawks would find a way to keep King within the organization in some capacity. He's someone you need to have around during a rebuild.
Lalonde, 49, has been an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning since 2018 and has been on Jon Cooper's staff for multiple Stanley Cup runs. He was also a very successful head coach at the ECHL and AHL levels prior to his assistant job with Tampa Bay, and was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 2014-15. His name is going to get attention this summer. (It's worth mentioning Jeff Halpern on this list while we're at it, also an assistant with Tampa Bay for the last four seasons).
Montgomery, 52, is currently an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues but has head coaching experience at both the NHL and NCAA levels. He guided Denver to a national title in 2017 and was also named Coach of the Year. He served as the Dallas Stars head coach from 2018-20 before being let go for "unprofessional conduct." He later revealed that he checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse, which played a significant role in his firing. Really good coach that obviously carries some baggage but it wouldn't be surprising to see him as a bench boss in the near future.
Quinn, 55, spent three seasons as the New York Rangers' head coach from 2018-2021 during the upwards trajectory of their rebuild, and served as Boston University's head coach for five seasons prior to that. He was also a development coach for USA Hockey, which is obviously a nice background to have for a rebuild. He was named Team USA's head coach for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and is the head coach for Team USA at the 2022 IIHF World Championship, where he's coaching current Blackhawks players Sam Lafferty and Seth Jones.
Tocchet, 58, has become a fan favorite on television, where he currently serves as an NHL analyst for TNT. He was an assistant coach for the 2016 and 2017 Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins and most recently was the head coach for the Arizona Coyotes. Feels like Tocchet would be an ideal coach for a rebuild, but I just don't know if he'd be itching to get back into coaching for a longer-term project. He's really good on TV, so his next job probably has to be more appealing than a rebuild.
Vellucci, 55, has been an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2020 after previously serving as the head coach of their AHL affiliate for one year and three seasons as the AHL head coach for the Carolina Hurricanes, where he was named Coach of the Year in 2019. Vellucci also has experience in management. He spent three seasons with Carolina as an assistant GM and 14 seasons as either the head coach or GM of the OHL's Plymouth Whalers. He's a two-time OHL Coach of the Year winner. Will he finally get a crack at being a head coach in the NHL for the first time?
Vincent, 50, currently serves as an assistant coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets after spending the previous five years as the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets AHL affiliate, where he was named most outstanding coach in 2017-18. He was also an assistant coach with the Jets prior to that. He's never been a head coach at the NHL level but could be in line for one soon.
Other higher-profile coaches on the market not included on this list: Mike Babcock, Randy Carlyle, Peter DeBoer, Claude Julien, Paul Maurice, John Tortorella and Barry Trotz. While Davidson didn't rule out hiring a veteran coach, all seven of these names have accomplished résumés and probably wouldn't sign up for a rebuild or be the right fit for one.