Washington GM George McPhee isn’t in any hurry to find a replacement for coach Dale Hunter, who returned to his junior hockey team in London, Ontario, after guiding the Capitals to a first-round upset of the Boston Bruins and a seven-game series loss to the New York Rangers in the second round.
“I don’t know whether it’ll be done in a few weeks or a month, six weeks,” he said. "Take our time and try and do it right."
It’s not important to get a coach in place by the draft in late June or by the time free agency starts on July 1, McPhee said.
Another GM looking for a new head coach is newly installed Montreal GM Marc Bergevin.
He has fleshed out his front-office staff by bringing in Rick Dudley and Scott Mellanby, but the head coaching job is key given the fiasco of last season when Jacques Martin was fired and replaced by Anglophone Randy Cunneyworth, a move that prompted outrage from some quarters in Quebec.
"I continue to advance on it," Bergevin said. "I’m getting closer to a decision but that decision has not been taken yet.
"All the candidates I’ve met with all have elements that I like. It’s not an easy decision, that’s why I’m taking my time because I want to make the right decision."
Although there continue to be rumors that Bergevin is close to making a decision on a new head coach, he insisted it’s not imminent: "It won’t happen this week, I can guarantee you that. After that ..."
Is it likely to happen before the draft?
"There are good chances, yes, but I won’t guarantee that either," he said.
It’s believed Marc Crawford, Michel Therrien and Bob Hartley are in the mix, and there is always the specter of former Montreal great Patrick Roy.
Bergevin said he isn’t paying much attention the flurry of reports and rumors relating to the coaching search.
"I respect the media and the passion of the fans in Montreal. But I just stay focused on what I have to do," he said.
Wild look to make moves
Watch for GM Chuck Fletcher to be very active trying to up the skill level of his club this offseason. The Wild were first overall in the NHL at one point in December, but suffered a number of key injuries and fell off the map, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
"To have had the record we did in mid-December and then to see that unravel in the second half of the year was incredibly tough and disappointing," Fletcher told ESPN.com Wednesday.
"We’re going to actively try and get better. ... We have seven young players 19 and 20 years old turning pro, so that’s certainly going to be one part of our push to get better. Obviously not all of those players will play in the NHL, but a couple we believe have a chance to. The rest can play in the American [Hockey] League and provide us much better depth than what we had last year. Our lack of depth last year really hurt us and lack of talent hurt us."
Fletcher also said the Wild's young talent will be augmented by the addition of NHL talent.
"Clearly we’re going to have to try and add some more NHL talent," Fletcher said. "Now whether it’s through free agency or through trades we’ll look at both. If an opportunity comes up before July 1 we’ll look at that through the trade route and certainly on July 1 we’ll have a wish list of players we’ll go after. We do have a lot of cap space and a strong desire to get better."
One player the Wild -- along with a plethora of other clubs -- will likely take a run at will be New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise, who can become an unrestricted free agent. He is from Minnesota.
Luongo to Tampa?
Some folks have linked the Tampa Bay Lightning to Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo, who has been supplanted by Cory Schneider as the Canucks' starter and will be available via trade. The Lightning, of course, need goaltending help, and Tampa GM Steve Yzerman said he’s not ruling out any possibility.
"We’ll explore all options and try and get something done that makes the most sense for us," Yzerman said. "So I don’t want to really rule out anything, but for various reasons there’s opportunities that may make more sense for us but until we know what all opportunities are I can’t say we’re going to do this or do that."
Vancouver GM Mike Gillis said he will talk to his netminder this week, "and talk again about how we’re going to move forward."
Asked if there is a chance Luongo could still be a Canuck next season he replied: "Yes, there is.
"I mean it’s a fluid business all the time."
Although his team won’t face any more sanctions for its postgame activities at the end of the Western Conference finals against Los Angeles, GM Don Maloney said the Coyotes learned a valuable lesson about staying in control, or rather, the cost of losing control.
"It was an enjoyable time and a lot of fun while it lasted," Maloney said of the playoffs. "I think it was good for our organization to go this far. We’re kind of just learning it. Even though we had some older players a lot of them had not been beyond the first round.
"I thought L.A. played hard, they played aggressive but it was whistle to whistle where we, I think we overreacted. ... That was a real learning experience. Some of the things you do in January and February you can’t do in May and expect to advance and that’s in regards to discipline."
Beyond the disappointing end, the Coyotes’ run to their first-ever conference final was a boon to the team’s profile.
"It was great for the marketplace," Maloney said. "We were front and center of every newspaper and TV story and radio for weeks. You couldn’t pay for that type of exposure. In that sense, it was great for hockey in Phoenix and hopefully it’ll carry over for years to come."