I have compiled a list of my top coaching candidates to potentially replace John Hines at the conclusion of the current season. This roster features a mix of seasoned veterans who are seeking a fresh start in their coaching careers, as well as promising young coaches who are eager to make their mark and establish themselves within the field.
Alain Vigneault (61 years old)
- Points Percentage: 58.5%
- Playoff Win-Loss Percentage: 50.3%
- Stanley Cup Appearances: 2 (0-2)
- Made Playoffs in 63% of years coached
- Coached 100-point teams 42% of the time
- Jack Adams Award Winner (2006-7)
Vigneault is a strong candidate for head coach of the Nashville Predators based on his past achievements. He has coached several teams, including the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers, and the Philadelphia Flyers, and won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach of the year in 2007. He is the Canucks’ all-time winningest coach, with 313 wins, and under his leadership, the Canucks won back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and made one Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Vigneault is a modern strategic thinker who experiments with his roster, putting into practice modern ideas that enable his stars to excel. He is known for strategically adjusting his matchups to capitalize on the opponent’s weaker spots and gain an advantage and is among the best coaches in the world at using his resources effectively. Additionally, Vigneault has a strong record in player development, which he demonstrated when he managed to get more out of Vancouver’s prospects and young talent. If the Predators are looking for an experienced coach with proven success in the NHL, Vigneault is a great option.
Claude Julien (62 years old)
- Points Percentage: 58.7%
- Playoff Win-Loss Percentage: 54.4%
- Stanley Cup Appearances: 2 (1-1)
- Made Playoffs in 52.6% of years coached
- Coached 100-point teams 26.3% of the time
- Jack Adams Award Winner (2008-9)
Claude Julien’s success as a coach speaks for itself, with a points percentage of 58.7% and a Stanley Cup championship with the Boston Bruins in 2011. He has also taken his teams to the playoffs ten times during his career, with deep runs in several of those appearances. One of Julien’s strengths is his ability to create a structurally sound defense, which he does through solid structures and systems. He prioritizes defense first but does not sacrifice offense in the process. His Bruins teams were one of the better possession teams in the NHL dating back to the 2012 lockout. With a deep and talented forward corps and the best goaltender in the world anchoring his defense, Julien’s strategic preferences could be a perfect fit for the Nashville Predators. Under Julien’s guidance, The Predators could challenge for the Stanley Cup in a matter of years once their young core develops.
Dan Bylsma (52 years old)
- Points Percentage: 61.5%
- Playoff Win-Loss Percentage: 55.1%
- Stanley Cup Appearances: 1 (1-0)
- Made Playoffs in 75% of years coached
- Coached 100-point teams 50% of the time
- Jack Adams Award Winner (2010-11)
Dan Bylsma could be the perfect fit for the Nashville Predators. With a points percentage of 61.5% and a playoff win-loss percentage of 55.1%, Bylsma has proven his worth as a head coach. He has led his teams to a Stanley Cup championship and made playoffs in 75% of years coached. He has also coached 100-point teams 50% of the time. He won the Jack Adams Award as the league’s most outstanding coach for the 2010-2011 season. Bylsma’s system emphasizes a north-south style of play and a cycle game, and his teams are known for their quick, long stretch passes. Although his system can be complicated and regimented, it has worked well for his teams in the past. Bylsma’s ability to motivate his players with quirky incentives, such as a shootout practice where the last player to score grows a mustache, could bring some much-needed fun to the Nashville locker room. Overall, Dan Bylsma’s track record of success and unique coaching style make him an excellent candidate for the Nashville Predators’ head coaching position.
Bruce Boudreau (68 years old)
- Points Percentage: 62.6%
- Playoff Win-Loss Percentage: 47.8%
- Stanley Cup Appearances: 0 (0-0)
- Made Playoffs in 62.5% of years coached
- Coached 100-point teams 50% of the time
- Jack Adams Award Winner (2007-8)
Former Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau could be an ideal fit for the Nashville Predators due to his experience, coaching accolades, and player development skills. As a former Jack Adams Award winner and a coach of four different NHL teams, Boudreau has shown that he can lead teams to success in the regular season, with a winning percentage that ranks him second in NHL history for coaches with at least 900 games coached. He has consistently finished above .500 and has turned around struggling teams midseason, such as when he took over the Washington Capitals in 2007 and led them to their first playoff appearance in five years. Boudreau is known for his ability to coach the offensive side of the game, utilizing a fast-paced, “run and gun” style of play that led to the success of players like Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Bäckström during his tenure with the Capitals. Boudreau’s coaching style has also helped players like Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Bonino, and Mikael Granlund have career years, and he made an impact on the Vancouver Canucks during his short time with the team. Overall, Boudreau’s coaching experience, accolades, and player development skills make him an excellent candidate to lead the Nashville Predators to success.
Bob Hartley (62 years old)
- Points Percentage: 55.4%
- Playoff Win-Loss Percentage: 56.8%
- Stanley Cup Appearances: 1 (1-0)
- Made Playoffs in 50% of years coached
- Coached 100-point teams 16.6% of the time
- Jack Adams Award Winner (2014-15)
Bob Hartley could make an excellent head coach for the Nashville Predators. At 62 years old, Hartley has an impressive track record, including winning the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001 and the Jack Adams Award in 2014-15 as the NHL’s coach of the year. He has also won the Calder Cup and the NLA championship. Hartley’s style of coaching is defense-first, which could be a valuable asset for the Predators and fits their style historically. He is also known for being a strict disciplinarian, willing to bench even his star players for tardiness. His commitment to winning is evident through his tireless work and his outstanding motivation skills. Hartley could be a valuable addition to the Nashville Predators’ coaching staff, perhaps taking their hockey club to the next level.
Another avenue is to recruit a promising young assistant coach who has been affiliated with successful NHL teams and has firsthand experience with winning cultures, strategies, and teams. With the newly appointed General Manager, Barry Trotz, assuming leadership, I believe that he could potentially mentor this coach throughout the entirety of the rebuild. All of the listed coaches will have substantial NHL experience, including time spent as a player.
Chris Kelly (42 years old) – Assistant coach for the Boston Bruins
- NHL Games Played: 845
- NHL Point Shares: 24.1
- NHL Plus Minus: +40
During his playing career, Kelly was widely recognized for his two-way defensive forward style, earning him four nominations for the Selke Trophy, and securing a place in the top 30 of the voting category on three separate occasions. As a member of the Boston Bruins, Kelly also won the Stanley Cup in 2011, affording him a wealth of experience on a championship-winning team.
Since 2018, Kelly has transitioned to coaching, initially joining the Ottawa Senators as a development coach before being hired by the Boston Bruins in 2021. As part of one of the NHL’s most successful teams, Kelly has had the opportunity to observe first-hand the inner workings of a high-performing locker room and the strategies that drive such success. Throughout his career, Kelly has demonstrated a winning mindset, both as a player and a coach, making him a potentially valuable addition to the Nashville Predators.
Tim Gleason (40 years old) – Assistant coach to the Carolina Hurricanes
- NHL Games Played: 727
- NHL Point Shares: 26.7
- NHL Plus Minus: -37
Tim Gleason, a former first-round pick from Ottawa and current assistant coach for the Carolina Hurricanes, represents a compelling prospect for a head coaching position. Known for his tough and gritty style of play during his playing days, Gleason was appointed as assistant coach to the Carolina Hurricanes on September 2nd, 2021, and has made an immediate impact.
As a member of the coaching staff for one of the NHL’s most high-scoring and electrifying teams, Gleason has had the opportunity to observe and contribute to the team’s significant success over the past few seasons. His role has been integral in developing the team’s strategies, tactics, and style of play, and his influence has been apparent on the ice.
Manny Malhotra (42 years old) – Assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs
- NHL Games Played: 991
- NHL Point Shares: 20.8
- NHL Plus Minus: -26
Manny Malhotra, the former 7th overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft, was widely recognized for his all-around play and sportsmanship throughout his playing career. He received votes for both the Byng and Selke Trophies on multiple occasions and won the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year award in ’98, as well as the Memorial Cup’s Most Sportsmanlike Player award the same year. Additionally, Malhotra holds the distinction of being the last active player to have been a teammate of Wayne Gretzky.
As a two-way forward, Malhotra was particularly known for his faceoff proficiency, winning over 56% of faceoffs he took in the NHL. After retiring from his playing career, Malhotra transitioned to coaching and was hired as an assistant coach for the Vancouver Canucks in June 2017. He later joined the coaching staff of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020, where he has gained valuable experience observing the strategies and tactics employed by successful NHL teams.
With several years of coaching experience under his belt and a deep understanding of what it takes to be successful in the NHL, Malhotra would be a strong candidate for a head coaching position.
Tuomo Ruutu (40 years old) – Assistant coach with the Florida Panthers
- NHL Games Played: 735
- NHL Point Shares: 31.9
- NHL Plus Minus: -70
Tuomo Ruutu had a successful NHL career, having been drafted 9th overall in 2001 and finishing 6th in The Calder voting in his rookie season. Known for his rough style of play, Ruutu accumulated over 1500 career hits and was a hard competitor who enjoyed stirring up opponents. Ruutu was recently hired as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers on June 29, 2021, after spending two years as Assistant Director of Player Development with the New York Rangers. As the Panthers have been one of the top teams in the NHL for the past few seasons, Ruutu has had the opportunity to be a part of their success. In addition, his experience in player development adds another area of expertise to his coaching abilities. Although Ruutu may be one of the more inexperienced candidates on this list, his unique background and skillset make him an intriguing candidate.