As the Bruins’ coaching search marches on, no one can accuse GM Don Sweeney of not doing his due diligence.
While many in hockey circles still see former New York Ranger coach David Quinn as the front-runner – with a few people believing St. Louis Blues assistant Jim Montgomery has gained momentum – the list of known interviewees has grown.
One new name to the list, first reported by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, is Mike Vellucci, an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins under Mike Sullivan the last two years. He was an AHL head coach the previous three years, the first two with the Charlotte Checkers, the Carolina Hurricanes AHL affiliate with whom he won the Calder Cup in 2019, and then Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Before that, he was head coach of the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League for 13 seasons, where he coached former Bruins star Tyler Seguin.
It was also learned by the Herald that long-time Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin, who has led the Bulldogs to three national championships, interviewed earlier this week, but it’s believed he’s no longer a candidate.
Those names join a list that includes Seattle Kraken assistant and former Providence Bruins coach Jay Leach, Maple Leafs assistant Spencer Carbery, B’s assistant Joe Sacco and former Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin, who has been the head coach of the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche’s’ AHL affiliate Colorado Eagles for the last four years. Cronin’s candidacy was first reported last week by bostonhockeynow.com.
It wouldn’t be a shock if there were more names that haven’t surfaced publicly. This will be the second time Sweeney has hired a head coach, but the first time he’s the opportunity/need to cast a wide net. When Claude Julien was let go in February of 2017, Bruce Cassidy had already been brought up from Providence to be an assistant in Boston and was the obvious choice to replace Julien on an interim basis. When Cassidy went 18-8 and got the previously floundering B’s into the playoffs, there was not much reason to look elsewhere.
Right now, Sweeney’s got a chance to, at the very least, gather information while picking the brains of coaches who are part of successful organizations and at various levels. That could well be the case of the Sandelin interview.
But at some point, Sweeney’s got to pull the trigger on a coach, because there are other pressing issues. Captain Patrice Bergeron, according to multiple sources, wants to return for another season and a deal would need to be worked out with him.
He must also get a firm answer from David Pastrnak, scheduled to be a UFA in the summer of 2023, on whether he wants to remain a Bruin long term. If he gets a negative answer, then that would trigger a franchise-altering trade.
And then there’s next week’s draft in Montreal and free agency on July 13. As of now, Sweeney’s got less than $2.4 million under the cap to make improvements on a team that suffered a first-round exit in May.
Beyond hiring a coach, there’s a lot of work to be done.©2022 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at bostonherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.