Todd McLellan spoke with the Buffalo Sabres about their head coaching vacancy. However, he is opting to politely decline the opportunity and thank Sabres GM Jason Botterill for the cup of coffee.
Bob McKenzie confirmed the news Friday afternoon.
At locker clean out day in Buffalo on Monday, McLelllan's name entereed the narrative of coaches being considered to replace Phil Housley in Buffalo. Houlsey was fired late last Sunday morning.
On Wednesday, Sabres GM Jason Botterill confirmed to Elliotte Friedman that McLellan was in fact a person of interest to the Sabres. McLellan and his wife were in Buffalo on Wednesday and Thursday to support their son Tyson, a junior forward for the University at Denver Pioneers, at the 2019 NCAA Frozen Four. The Pioneers lost in OT to UMass on Thursday night. McLellan allegedly met with Botterill and the Sabres on Friday.
McLellan, 51, met with LA Kings President Luc Robitaille last weekend.
McLellan, 51, was fired 20 games into the 2018-2019 season by the Edmonton Oilers. He was in his fourth year behind the bench with the club.
Sabres fans wish McLellan well with the aging, slow, expensive roster he will be inheritung in Los Angeles.
So, the question now is who will the Sabres be hiring to replace Housley?
Per usual, I have thoughts. Many thoughts.
Alain Vigneault appears to be in the pole position right now.
Vigneault most recently was the head coach of the New York Rangers.
Vigneault has previously coached the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL, as well as in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 1216 regular season NHL games, Vigneault is 648-435-35 (.588 win %). Vigneaul-coached teams are 68-71 (.489 win %) in the playoffs.
Earlier this week, Hockey Canada management selected Vigneault as the head coach of the 2019 entry at the IIHF Worlds Championships which will be played in Slovakia from May 10-May 26. Botterill will be one of three GMs of Team Canada which means he and Vigneault will be spending a lot of time together in the next five weeks. Botterill will be able to obsrve with his own eyes and ears what type of communicator Vigneault really is with his players, coaches, managers and media. Botterill said earlier this week that he is looking for an experienced head coach who can command respect from the players in his room. Vigneault certainly fills that bill.
I like that Vigneault is a respected bench boss. However, I have heard that he is not an excellent mentor and teacher for younger players. In other words, AV works well with veteran players. The Sabres are one of the youngest teams in the NHL interms of years of NHL service on their roster. Is Vigneault as relatable with 20-23 years olds as he has been with 27-31 years olds in his NHL coaching career?
Sabres fans have mixed emotions on hiring Vigneault
Kevin Dineen, the veteran NHL coach. My friend Dan Hickling reminded me this week that Dineen is more than ready to coach in today's NHL.
Dineen is an excellent mentor and a wonderful role model for young players. In 146 NHL games, all behind the bench of the Florida Panthers, Dineen was 56-62-28 (.474 win %). His Cats won the Southest Division in 2011-12. Dineen was head coach for the Portland Pirates for six seasons and qualified for the AHL playoffs five times.
Dineen was named head coach of Team Canada's women's national ice hockey team. On February 20, 2014, he led the women's squad to a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
In March 2014, Dineen was named head coach of Canada's National Men's Under-18 Team for the 2014 IIHF World U18 Championships. The team finished third, winning the bronze medal.
As an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks, Dineen won his first Stanley Cup on June 15, 2015. On November 6, 2018, Dineen was fired along with head coach Joel Quenneville.
Rikard Grönborg, who is currently the head coach for the Sweden men's national ice hockey team. Grönborg has coached Sabres players Alex Nylander, Rasmus Dahlin, Rasmus Asplund, Victor Olofsson and Linus Ullmark on Sweden's U-20 World Juniors squad.
Grönborg is a loyal practitioner of the North American game of hockey. He started his coaching career as an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He was an assistant coach with Team Sweden under head coach Pär Mårts at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
In late-August 2018, it was announced he would stop coaching the Swedish national team after the 2018–2019 season. It's not a question of "if" but "when" Grönborg will become a head coach in the NHL.
The Sabres will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in two regular-season games November 8-9 in Stockholm, Sweden. It will be Buffalo's first trip abroad since 2011 and a showcase for Sabres Swedes Rasmus Dahlin, Lawrence Pilut, Alex Nylander, Victor Olofsson, Linus Ullmark and Tampa's Victor Hedman, the reigning Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's best defenseman and also a native of Sweden.
Bob Boughner, who was fired by the Florida Panthers on Sunday and replaced by Joel Quenneville on Monday morning. In two seasons coaching the Cats, Boughner went 80-62-22 (.555 win %). Boughner was a candidate to replace Dan Bylsma in Buffalo two seasons ago. However, Housley was named Sabres head coach.
As head coach of the Windsor Spitfires (OHL), Boughner won two Memorial Cup championships, in 2009 and 2010 and won the CHL's Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year Award twice, in 2008 and 2009.
In June 2009, Boughner was selected by Hockey Canada to coach the National Under-18 hockey team at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament. The team went on to dominate by going undefeated and won gold at the tournament.
In June 2017, Boughner was hired as the head coach of the Florida Panthers, having served as an assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks for the previous two seasons.
Clark Donatelli, whom Botterill hired, the current head coach of the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Donatelli, a Boston University alum.