BUFFALO, N.Y. — Things have already started to happen around the National Hockey League, and the Buffalo Sabres aren’t the only team looking for a head coach.
Former Sabres assistant coach John Tortorella has parted ways with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rick Tocchet has parted ways with the Arizona Coyotes. The expansion Seattle Kraken still haven’t hired a coach yet, and it’s not known if other coaches will come available. Rod Brind’Amour, who is a former teammate of Kevyn Adams in Carolina, where they won the Stanley Cup, is reportedly close to a deal to re-sign with the Hurricanes.
I would not be interested in Tocchet at all. In 2007 Tocchet pled guilty to conspiracy and promoting gambling. Despite running a sports gambling ring, he didn’t have to serve time. I would take a hard pass on that.
Tortorella won the Stanley Cup as coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and if you remember, he won the Calder Cup as coach of the Rochester Americans. In Buffalo he grabbed an assistant district attorney, Vince LoTempio, in the stands at the Aud after he was slapped by head coach John Muckler. Tortorella was suspended three games by the NHL. He also open-handed slapped a fan in between periods of a playoff games between Rochester and Albany.
Tortorella is a great coach, but his act runs thin. Star players have asked to be traded, and I just don’t think that would be a great fit here.
Now that the season is over, I don’t think Adams should just hand the job to Granato. I definitely think he should be the front-runner, but I’ve said this from the start, they absolutely can’t get this coach wrong, so every single coach on Adams' list needs to be interviewed. College coaches, AHL coaches, assistant coaches, former NHL coaches, everybody.
Yes, the more coaches that lose their jobs, the more urgent it becomes, but Adams has already started the process. He has interviewed candidates, and it will be his top priority.
Adams wants Linus Ullmark back, so he needs to be signed before July 28, when unrestricted free agency begins. That too is a priority.
We may hear what is in store for Jack Eichel as far as surgery goes this week. I don’t think you’re going to hear if Jack wants to remain in Buffalo. That is not something he or the team wants to play out in the media.
Eichel speaks to the media Monday, while Granato and Adams talk on Wednesday. Many other players will speak on Monday and Tuesday, so it will be interesting to hear what they have to say moving forward.