By Andrew McGilligan
With Mike Kelly out as Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, the questions now looms as to who takes over behind the Saint John Sea Dogs bench.
The team has made it clear it will separate the roles of coach and general manager – at least for now – and the coach will obviously be hired first.
The position is an intriguing one as the Dogs have a good core of young players that need to be developed, the looming bid for the 2017 Memorial Cup, one of the best arenas as well as facilities in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and a recent history of winning.
One name that immediately comes to mind to fill the vacancy is former Drummondville Voltigeurs and Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher. He comes with an established track record having won a QMJHL championship and took the Lightning to within a game of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011 as well as a coaching philosophy and system.
Boucher is a known quantity and familiar to the Sea Dogs brass as he was interviewed by the team for its head coaching position prior to the 2006-07 season. The job ultimately went to Jacques Beaulieu.
If Boucher is willing, he would be a prime candidate as he brings both the star quality of having coached in the NHL and a thorough understanding of the major junior game (ie. development of young talent).
There are several other candidates the organization is no doubt looking into with solid coaching backgrounds. Perhaps Moncton Wildcats Vice-President of Hockey Operations Danny Flynn could be lured up to the Port City to face off against the Wildcats.
Flynn, like Boucher, has a track record of success in junior hockey, was an assistant coach in the NHL and was successful behind the bench in the CIS. However, it should be noted that Flynn is still under contract with Moncton and this would be a long shot.
Of course, the Sea Dogs could stay in house and promote Ross Yates from assistant coach to bench boss. Yates was head coach of the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League for four years and has Maritime roots having played in his university days at Mount Allison, his time at Mt. A overlapped with that of Sea Dogs majority owner Scott McCain who earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the school in 1979.