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Dreger: Looking at 10 potential NHL head coaches

Darren Dreger

10/26/2011 9:28:08 PM

There is no sense of imminent change behind an NHL bench - regardless of what some may believe in Montreal and Columbus.

But when teams inevitably make changes there will be plenty of head coaching candidates to consider. That said, we've compiled a list of 10 NHL head coaches-in-waiting.

Let's start with ex-NHL head coaches and current NHL assistants:

Stanley Cup-winning coaches Marc Crawford and Ken Hitchcock both have a wealth of experience and would be considered for a team that can't get over the hump either in making the playoffs or contending for the Cup.

Three current NHL assistants - Chicago's Mike Haviland, Nashville's Lane Lambert and Philadelphia's Kevin McCarthy are also highly regarded.

Haviland finished a close second in Winnipeg's decision to go with Claude Noel and is considered a strong candidate to make the jump to a head coaching position.

However, more NHL teams are promoting from within and going with their American Hockey League affiliate coaches. Washington's Bruce Boudreau and Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma are shining examples.

Toronto's Dallas Eakins is believed to be next in line for the Maple Leafs coaching job, while Kurt Kleinendorst was a strong contender to lead Ottawa's staff before Paul MacLean was hired. Craig MacTavish and Kirk Muller are ranked high by a number of NHL teams, in part because both high profile coaches stepped into the AHL to hone their skills.

Lake Erie's David Quinn is our 'out of left field' candidate. The Monsters - Colorado's farm club - are off to a rough start, but Quinn's coaching rivals say his players play hard for him and are always well prepared. Prior to joining Lake Erie in 2009, Quinn spent five seasons with the Boston University Terriers as an associate coach and won the NCAA championship before making the move to Lake Erie.

Before a coach is fired, NHL general managers usually have his replacement in mind.

And the ten men identified are considered to be the most ready to run an NHL bench.