BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — With the news that former Buffalo Sabres head coach Phil Housley has been fired after two seasons, the search for his replacement begins immediately. For GM Jason Botterill it is imperative his next coach leads the team to success or he too could be relieved of his duties after just a few seasons.
Here are five options the Sabres should explore:
Previous job: Chicago Blackhawks [2018-2019]
For months Sabres fans have been clamoring for the Pegulas to hire the most successful coach on the market. "Coach Q" was relieved of his duties by the Blackhawks earlier this season after winning three Stanley Cup championships with Chicago in 11 seasons.
As a head coach, Quenneville has made the playoffs 18 times and has failed to qualify for the postseason only twice [also fired twice midseason]. There is no doubt Quenneville would be the Sabres top-choice to fill their coaching vacancy. That said, why would he want to take over a team that has fired three head coaches since 2015? Perhaps working with Rasmus Dahlin and Jack Eichel is too enticing of an opportunity for Quenneville to pass up.
Or perhaps he'll choose to go to a team, not in the middle of an eight-year postseason drought.
According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Florida Panthers appear to be the early front-runner to land Quenneville.
Current job: Head coach, Rochester Americans [AHL]
With the recent success of the Amerks, Chris Taylor has quickly become one of the most promising coaching candidates on the market. In his first two seasons with Rochester, Taylor has led the Amerks to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. His players love playing for him and by all accounts, he's a great leader. That said, i'm not sure if the Sabres will love the idea of going with another first-time NHL coach after the Housley experiment failed. His lack of experience doesn't rule out Taylor but it makes me wonder if the Sabres are ready to give him a huge promotion. If it was my decision, Taylor would be the guy if they can't land Quenneville.
Current job: Head coach, Toronto Marlies [AHL]
Since taking over the reins in Toronto, Keefe has led the Marlies to three consecutive playoff appearances along with a Calder Cup championship in 2018. Under Keefe's leadership, the Marlies have been a dominant force in the American Hockey League and appear to be heading back to the playoffs yet again. Many experts have said Keefe won't leave Toronto unless it's the perfect opportunity. To say the Sabres would be the "perfect" job would be a bit of a stretch but it'd be hard to imagine a 38-year-old coach saying no when offered a head coaching job in the NHL.
Previous job: New York Rangers [2017-2018]
After the Rangers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010, Vigneault was fired after four seasons in New York. 2018 is the only year Vigneault has failed to lead his team to the playoffs since 2008.
Here's what's interesting about Vigneault -- he has connections to the Sabres front office. Last week it was reported that Vigneault would be the head coach for Team Canada at the upcoming World Hockey Championship in May. Conveniently enough, Sabres GM Jason Botterill is part of the management team for Team Canada. As pointed out by Shawn Simpson of TSN 1200 in Ottawa, Vigneault also worked with current Sabres assistant GM Randy Sexton while with the Senators. So if nothing else, there are connections that make AV a possibility.
Current job: Assistant coach, Dallas Stars
Did you think we could have a coaching candidate list without including a former Sabres player? If nothing else, this an excuse to grace you with one of the most memorable goals scored in Sabres history.
Over the years the Pegulas have displayed time and time again that they like to hire people with ties to the organization.
Listed below are some of the coaches/general managers with ties to the Sabres hired by the Pegulas:
- Phil Housley
- Jason Botterill
- Chris Taylor
- Ted Nolan
- Patrick LaFontaine
Barnes won't be a front-runner during this search but that doesn't mean he won't get a phone call.