Updated June 10, 2022 - 12:14 pm
The search for the Golden Knights’ third coach in six seasons is underway.
The team fired Pete DeBoer on May 16 after missing the NHL playoffs for the first time in franchise history. DeBoer had a year left on his contract, but general manager Kelly McCrimmon said he thought the Knights could benefit by having a “new voice” in training camp.
The next step is determining who that is. The Knights’ last coaching search was fast, as DeBoer’s hiring and coach Gerard Gallant’s firing were announced on the same news release Jan. 15, 2020. McCrimmon said the extended offseason will allow the team to do a lengthier search this time. The process was expected to start the afternoon of May 16.
“We’re not going to pigeonhole ourselves into one category,” McCrimmon said. “There’s good coaches that have varying backgrounds. We’ve had two good coaches. One guy was a former player; one guy wasn’t. Both guys were effective at delivering their message.”
The Knights will have plenty of options because the market is full of experienced coaches. Here are six they could pursue:
DeBoer was hired after defeating the Knights in the playoffs in 2019 with the San Jose Sharks. They could end up with Trotz if they follow the same pattern.
The 59-year-old gave the Knights their first playoff series loss in franchise history when he led the Washington Capitals to a victory in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He then coached the New York Islanders the past four seasons, going 152-102-34 with two trips to the NHL semifinals.
Trotz was fired by the Islanders on May 9 and replaced by assistant Lane Lambert on Monday. Trotz has the third-most wins in NHL history (914) and coached the second-most games (1,812). He’s known for implementing a solid defensive structure and getting strong performances out of his goaltenders.
Cassidy is a late entry to the coaching market but immediately became one of the top names available when he was fired by the Boston Bruins on Monday.
The 57-year-old was with the Bruins for parts of six seasons, a tenure that included a 245-108-46 (.672 points percentage) record, six playoff berths, the 2020 Jack Adams Award and a trip to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Boston, under Cassidy, ranked second in points percentage, second in wins, 10th in goals per game, first in goals against per game, third on the power play and third on the penalty kill.
Cassidy has a history with Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee, as he coached under him in Washington from 2002-03. Cassidy said Thursday he hoped to coach in the NHL again as soon as possible and had already heard from “a number of teams.”
Tocchet has spent this season as a Turner Sports analyst after being fired by the Arizona Coyotes in 2021.
The 58-year-old was 125-131-34 in four seasons with the Coyotes, leading them to the playoffs in the expanded 2020 postseason. He also was the Lightning’s coach from 2008 to 2010 and then a well-regarded assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins during their back-to-back Stanley Cup runs in 2016 and 2017. He ran the Penguins’ power play, which scored on 21.9 percent of its opportunities in those two postseasons.
Tocchet also had a lengthy NHL career as a player. He appeared in 1,144 games as a right wing from 1984 to 2002. He scored 440 goals, had 512 assists and won the 1992 Cup with the Penguins.
Quenneville’s on-ice resume is outstanding. His off-ice credentials, however, come with questions.
The 63-year-old has the second-most wins (969) and third-most games coached (1,768) in NHL history. He led the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
That first Cup run was later tainted when former Chicago player Kyle Beach sued the team for mishandling sexual assault allegations in 2010. A 2021 independent investigation by the law firm Jenner & Block said Quenneville took part in a meeting after advancing to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final in which it was discussed that Beach was allegedly sexually assaulted by video coach Brad Aldrich. The investigation said no action was taken to address the issue the rest of the playoffs.
Quenneville resigned as coach of the Florida Panthers once the investigation was made public in October. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said after the resignation that he will need to meet with Quenneville before he can be employed in the league again.
Bettman said this month that Quenneville has not asked for that meeting.
The hard-nosed NHL analyst wasn’t behind a bench this season after six years coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he still has a proven track record after stops with four teams.
Tortorella, 63, is 673-541-132 with 37 ties in 1,383 NHL games. His clubs are known for their grinding, defensive style of play. He won the 2004 Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and his teams have made the playoffs in 12 of his 20 seasons. The Blue Jackets won a playoff series for the first time in franchise history under his watch in 2019 by sweeping the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning have not lost a postseason series since.
Julien has not coached since being fired by the Montreal Canadiens 18 games into last season and seeing his replacement, Dominique Ducharme, lead the team to the Stanley Cup Final.
The 62-year-old has had plenty of success in four NHL coaching stints, two of which came in Montreal. He’s 667-445-152 with 10 ties and won the 2011 Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins. He and the Bruins returned to the Final in 2013 but lost to Chicago.
Julien also coached New Jersey for one season in 2006-07, but was fired before the playoffs. He has a history of coaxing strong five-on-five play out of his teams.
Maurice resigned as coach of the Winnipeg Jets in December in the middle of his ninth season with the team.
The 55-year-old appeared ready for a break, but he has plenty to offer if he wants to return. Maurice has coached the fourth-most games (1,685) in NHL history and has the seventh-most wins (775). He made the Stanley Cup Final in 2002 with the Carolina Hurricanes but lost to the Detroit Red Wings.
One complicating factor: Maurice is good friends with DeBoer. They worked together in the Ontario Hockey League for two seasons from 1993 to 1995 and have remained in touch since.