NHL coaching vacancies: Several candidates vie for three jobs

Jeff Gross

The Stars, Rangers and Canucks have open coaching vacancies, and there are a number of qualified candidates for those positions.

The vacant coaching positions in the NHL have slowly begun to resemble a game of musical chairs. With the Dallas Stars, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks all looking for their next bench boss, the teams' searches feature a small group of potential candidates, at least, for the time being.

Alain Vigneault, John Stevens, John Tortorella and Lindy Ruff are the primary names that have been surfacing in connection to the openings. Vigneault reportedly met with the Rangers on Tuesday and had already concluded a meeting with Dallas.

Conversely, Tortorella was interviewing for Vigneault's old job in Vancouver on Tuesday. It is believed that he is also a person of interest for the Stars' position, but reports have indicated that the organization has not yet requested permission to speak with Tortorella. However, it is not believed that the Rangers would object such a request.

Stevens has been isolated as a primary candidate for the job in Vancouver and Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote that the Rangers might look to speak with him, as well. Currently an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings, Stevens had previously acted as the bench boss for the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Rangers have also received permission from the Buffalo Sabres to interview Ruff, however, it's unknown when that interview will take place.

The interesting undercurrent to the vacant coaching positions are the wild card possibilities.

Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett is under contract with the club until June 30. After that date, he will become an unrestricted free agent. Tippett has expressed his desire to stay with the Coyotes in Glendale, as long as the Coyotes stay in Glendale. Due to the tumultuous situation involving the attempted sale of the team, Tippett is seeking a more concrete explanation on the team's future prior to extending his contract.

As the start of the offseason rapidly approaches, one would imagine that these vacancies will be filled within the month. Of course, given the relative slow pace to the collective process, the clubs might be waiting for the entire landscape to develop before making a move. How long it will take for that to happen remains to be seen, but it's difficult to imagine that these teams will be without head coaches by the time free agency begins on July 5.

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