NHL Rumors: Who Will Fill the Five Open Coaching Jobs?

John ValentovicAnalyst IMay 31, 2011

NHL Rumors: Who Will Fill the Five Open Coaching Jobs?

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    ST. PAUL, MN - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Ken Hitchcock of the Columbus Blue Jackets makes a point to the bench during the second period in a preseason game on September 18, 2009 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty I
    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    As the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks get set to start the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night, it's time to take a timeout and look ahead to next season for a moment.

    Their are currently five teams that have coaching vacancies for next season.  The New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers are all seeking a new head coach, and there are plenty of rumors about who each team is looking at.

    Let's take a look at each of the five teams and some rumors about who will be taking over behind the bench for each squad.

New Jersey Devils

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    DETROIT - APRIL 16:  Head Coach Ken Hitchcock of the Columbus Blue Jackets talks at a press conference after facing the Detroit Red Wings during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 16, 2009 at Joe Lou
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    According to Mark Everson of the New York Post, Ken Hitchcock is looking to get back into coaching in the NHL, and is said to be very interested in the Devils' head coaching position.

    Hitchcock, who won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999, has 534 career wins as a head coach, and he has also coached the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets.  Hitchcock was fired by the Jackets in 2010.

    Hitchcock, 59, also seems to be the top choice of Devil's general manager Lou Lamoriello.  His defense-first mindset would be a good fit in New Jersey.

Ottawa Senators

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    The Senators could be set to hire within the organization according to Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen.

    Although they haven't been in serious discussions with any candidates yet, the Senators are said to be interested in promoting Kurt Kleinendorst.

    Kleinendorst, who coaches Ottawa's AHL Binghamton affiliate, led Team USA to a gold medal in the U-18 championships a year ago, and is now having great success with Binghamton.

    Things should start picking up in Ottawa soon.

Florida Panthers

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    CHICAGO - MAY 23:  Adam Burish #37 and assistant coach Mike Haviland of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate a late third period goal against the San Jose Sharks as the Blackhawks advance to the Stanley Cup after winning Game Four of the Western Conference Fi
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    According to Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel, Mike Haviland and John Torchetti are the main candidates to become the head coach of the Florida Panthers.

    Haviland is currently an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks, and Torchetti is the associate coach of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Minnesota Wild

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    DENVER - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Craig MacTavish leads the Edmonton Oilers against the Colorado Avalanche during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on January 16, 2009 in Denver, Coloado. The Oilers defeated the Avalanche 3-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The second time may be the charm for Craig MacTavish in terms of coaching the Wild, says Jim Matheson of the Vancouver Sun.

    MacTavish interviewed with the Wild two years ago, but Minnesota decided to go in a different direction.  Now, they are looking for a head coach again, and according to numerous reports, have already given MacTavish another interview.

    MacTavish coached the Edmonton Oilers from 2000-2009, and has worked as an analyst for TSN for the last two years.  But he has made it known that he wishes to return to the NHL.

Dallas Stars

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    MONTREAL, QC - SEPTEMBER 24: Assistant Coach Kirk Muller speaks with Alex Auld #35 of the Montreal Canadiens prior to the game against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre on September 24, 2010 in Montreal, Canada. The Canadiens defeated the Senators 4-
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The search for a new head coach of the Dallas Stars has really yet to get under way, due in large part to the fact that the team still does not have an owner.

    General manager Joe Nieuwendyk expects the search to heat up once the ownership question is resolved, although he is still unsure of exactly when that will be.

    Until then, ESPN.com has speculated that Montreal Canadien's assistant coach Kirk Muller is the front runner for the job, although there are many others be considered.

    Dallas will probably be the last team to fill their vacancy behind the bench.