The Seattle Kraken’s list of potential head coaches became even shorter on Monday after the New York Post reported Gerard Gallant is heading to the New York Rangers. Gallant, who most recently coached the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final and 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs before being fired in his third season with the team, was previously speculated as one of the top candidates for the Kraken coaching job. With his name officially scratched off Seattle’s list, only a few high-quality options remain.
Rod Brind’Amour Remains as Unlikely Kraken Coach Candidate
Rod Brind’Amour is a frequently discussed name when it comes to possible Kraken head coach candidates. Now at the end of a three-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, it appears he is at a crossroads as he looks to negotiate contracts for his assistant coaches in Carolina or potentially make the move to Seattle to join his former teammate and coworker, Kraken general manager Ron Francis. While Francis was serving as president of hockey operations for the Hurricanes, Brind’Amour was brought onto his staff as head coach in 2018. The two of them also played together in Carolina.
Brind’Amour’s familiarity with Francis and recent coaching success makes him a great option for the Kraken if he decides to leave Carolina. Recently named as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award after leading the Hurricanes to a 36-12-8 (80 points) season, good for first in the Discover Central Division and third in the NHL, he has proven himself as one of the strongest head coaches in the NHL.
He became the first head coach in Hurricanes history to lead the team to three consecutive playoffs after this year’s postseason run, a first-round victory over the Nashville Predators and second-round loss to the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. A reunion between Francis and Brind’Amour seems unlikely as Carolina will probably do whatever it takes to find a deal for their franchise head coach, but if that falls through, there may be a chance he is behind the Kraken bench for their inaugural season.
Rick Tocchet and Bruce Boudreau in the Kraken Coaching Ring
Rick Tocchet and Bruce Boudreau are two other names commonly tied to the Kraken. Tocchet served as the Arizona Coyotes’ head coach for the past four seasons, but the two sides have now agreed to part ways. Despite only qualifying for one postseason during his time in Arizona, his team’s win percentage improved each season except the last. He managed to spark his young roster to multiple win streaks and strong comeback efforts this season, but ultimately fell short of a playoff spot by nine points. According to the Seattle Times, Tocchet has interviewed twice with the Kraken since parting ways with the Coyotes, most recently after the NHL Draft Lottery earlier this month. (from ‘Here’s what the New York Rangers’ hiring of coach Gerard Gallant means for the Kraken,’ The Seattle Times, 06/14/2021)
Bruce Boudreau may be another option for the Kraken and comes with a better track record than Tocchet. Boudreau has 14 seasons of NHL head coaching experience, only missing the postseason twice in the 12 full seasons he coached. He most recently served behind the Minnesota Wild bench, where he put together a 158-110-35 record. Prior to that, he coached five seasons each with the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks. He has the second-highest win percentage in NHL history among head coaches with least 900 games coached. The numbers speak for themselves; Boudreau is a highly qualified veteran coach and would be a major addition to the Kraken staff. If Francis can lure the long-time coach to the Pacific Northwest, Seattle’s players will be in very good hands.
The timeline for a coaching hire is still unclear, but a decision is expected to be made soon with the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft quickly approaching on July 21. Gallant would have been a great option for the Kraken given his immediate success when the Golden Knights first entered the league, but there are still some great coaches to pick from. With each passing day, more pressure is applied to Francis to select the first bench boss in franchise history before other teams snatch away his top candidates. The search for a head coach will only intensify heading into the second half of June.
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.