It has been reported four candidates are competing for the Winnipeg head coaching position. They are Blackhawks’ assistant coach Mike Haviland, Craig MacTavish, Claude Noel and Craig Ramsay. Everyone except Haviland has been employed as a NHL head coach.
Although there have been four people involved, my source indicates the position will likely go to Haviland or Noel as they are the only ones under strong consideration.That conclusion comes from the same person who informed me Haviland was getting an interview in Winnipeg before it was officially reported. http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/al-cimaglia/35977/
In these parts Haviland seems like an obvious choice because of his relationship with rookie general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff along with Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd. Ladd is still unsigned and there are some who believe Noel is actually the front- runner for the Winnipeg job.
If pror NHL head coaching experience is a main factor in the decision, Haviland will remain an assistant in Chicago. Noel doesn’t have a recent Stanley Cup win on his resume. But Noel does have ties with True North Sports and Entertainment after his most recent head coaching job with the Manitoba Moose.
It should be noted, besides having a very short stint with the Blue Jackets as their bench boss in 2010, Noel did win a Calder Cup with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2004. In the same season he was selected as AHL Coach of the Year.
Last season Noel steered the Moose, who played in Winnipeg and were the Vancouver AHL affiliate. For the upcoming season the Chicago Wolves will be the Canucks’ AHL affiliate as the relocated Moose will serve as the affiliate for the Winnipeg franchise.
In 2007, Haviland was also honored as AHL coach of the year when he guided the Norfolk Admirals to a 50-22-6-2 record. Haviland is well thought of around the league and has been instrumental in the improvement of the Blackhawks’ defense and special teams. No doubt the addition of former NHL defenseman Joel Quenneville as head coach also has positively influenced the young Chicago blueliners.
The path this summer to securing a head coaching positions has led candidates from the AHL to the NHL. Maybe one of the reasons Noel is the top choice of some is because of his NHL head coaching experience and the fact he was most recently an AHL bench boss.
Will a 24 game interim head coaching stint with the Columbus Blue Jackets be the deciding factor in favor of Noel? My guess is no, although it won’t his hurt chances.
Haviland toiled for seven years in the minors as a head coach and never missed the playoffs. Since Haviland has been an assistant the Blackhawks have also reached the post season in every season.
If Haviland lands the Winnipeg position it would be a loss for the Blackhawks, although Quenneville will then get a chance to pick his own assistant. Haviland was already promoted to the big club before Quenneville took over for Denis Savard in October of 2008.
Noel is older, has a longer coaching resume and has ties to True North Sports. Haviland has a relationship with some key players in Winnipeg as well as Cheveldayoff. Both have put in their time in the AHL and appear ready for a promotion.
If what I’m hearing is correct the short list of candidates has gotten even shorter and the decision should be coming soon.
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