While there are several accomplished National Hockey League coaches eager to work, more and more it appears teams are going down the road less travelled to fill their head coaching vacancies.
This week, the St Louis Blues extended Davis Payne's contract by two years, removing the interim label and rewarding a coach with zero previous NHL coaching experience.
Payne was promoted from Peoria, the Blues AHL affiliate after veteran coach Andy Murray was fired in January. Columbus, Tampa Bay, and as of today, the Atlanta Thrashers, are all in the market for a head coach and early indications from these teams is that they will consider all options.
Here's a list of candidates without NHL head coaching experience who are rated potential head coaches in the League:
Scott Arniel – Manitoba (AHL)
Guy Boucher – Hamilton (AHL)
Bob Boughner – Windsor (OHL)
Kevin Dineen – Portland (AHL)
Paul MacLean – Detroit (NHL)
Brad McCrimmon – Detroit (NHL)
Brent Peterson – Nashville (NHL)
Dineen, Arniel and Boucher run successful benches in the American Hockey League. Boucher, in his first year as head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs, was recently named AHL coach of the year. It's believed Boucher may be a year or two away from making the jump.
Dineen and Arniel are considered ready now, with Dineen reportedly a top candidate for the job in Columbus.
Veteran NHL associate coaches, Brent Peterson, Paul MacLean and Brad McCrimmon are still awaiting their first opportunities at a head job.
Among the most intriguing is Windsor coach Boughner, who won the Memorial Cup last year and is challenging for a berth in it again this season.
Competing for a job as an NHL head coach has never been more difficult.