Sources: Samuelsson among list of coaching candidates for Penguins
A couple of NHL veterans and current assistants are among the candidates to become the Penguins' next coach, multiple team and league sources told the Tribune-Review.
General manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday he has list of six to eight candidates, and interviews have started.
“I'm very pleased with those interviews so far, and I'll be continuing to talk with a few more people,” Rutherford said.
The sources said candidates include former NHL head coaches Ron Wilson and Marc Crawford, and current assistants Ulf Samuelsson and Bill Peters.
Another NHL assistant, John Stevens, is a target, the sources said.
However, the Penguins are not sure whether he intends to pursue a head-coaching job or stay in his role with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
Stevens' previous head coaching experience was with Philadelphia.
Rutherford previously has identified John Hynes, who coached the Penguins' AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton the past four seasons, as a candidate.
Rick Tocchet is being considered to join the Penguins as an assistant coach, the sources said.
Tocchet has worked as an assistant with Colorado and Phoenix, and he also was head coach with Tampa Bay.
Tocchet and Samuelsson played for the Penguins in the 1990s and were teammates on the 1992 Stanley Cup team.
Samuelsson is an assistant with the New York Rangers, who lost to Los Angeles in the Cup Final. He also has served as an assistant with Phoenix. Though he never has been a head coach in the NHL, Samuelsson held that role with Modo in Sweden's top league from 2011-13.
Peters has spent the past two seasons as an assistant with Detroit under coach Mike Babcock. He spent three seasons as head coach of Chicago's AHL affiliate, Rockford, before joining the Red Wings.
Wilson and Crawford have run benches for several NHL clubs. Wilson coached with Anaheim, Washington, San Jose and Toronto, and he guided the Capitals to the Cup Final in 1998. Crawford coached with Quebec/Colorado, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Dallas, and he won the Cup with the Avalanche in 1996.
Crawford spent the past two seasons with Zurich in Switzerland's top league. His club won the championship this past season.
Crawford and Wilson were head coaches for Teams Canada and USA, respectively, at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Neither squad medaled, but Wilson returned to lead the United States' silver-medal squad at the 2010 Winter Games.
The Penguins join Vancouver, Carolina and Florida as clubs without a head coach. The Penguins fired former coach Dan Bylsma on June 6. His assistants were retained, but all are free to pursue other jobs, Rutherford said.
Rutherford said the Penguins' new coach would be in place by July 1, the start of NHL free agency.
“That's the latest,” Rutherford said. “If I can get a guy I'm real comfortable with by (Wednesday), I'll do it then. But I'm not that close yet.”
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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