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32 Thoughts Podcast | Discussing candidates for the Winnipeg Jets head coaching vacancy

Friedman names some of the guys who are in the running to be next bench boss.

In the 32 Thoughts Podcast which was released this morning, Elliotte Friedman is discussing a number of the head coaching vacancies around the NHL including the one in Winnipeg with Rick Bowness retiring last Monday. This is what he had to say about the job opportunity with the Jets:

“Winnipeg. Scott Arniel obviously. Craig Berube did a zoom interview. I think they’ve interviewed Dean Evason. And someone said to me ‘Look at Kevin Cheveldayoff’s history in the American Hockey League’ and they pointed out that when he was in Chicago one of his assistant coaches with the Wolves was Todd Nelson. Todd Nelson is still playing, Hershey has a loaded team in the American Hockey League, but someone just said to me ‘do not count out at least them talking to Todd Nelson’. I don’t know which way Winnipeg’s going to go here yet, I wouldn’t want to handicap it, but those are some of the names I’ve heard.”

We wrote about former Blues coach Craig Berube yesterday which you can read here.

Former Minnesota Wild coach Dean Evason is from Flin Flon, Manitoba and Jets fans will recall his almost tilt with Rick Bowness a few years back. Evason was Capitals draft pick back in 1982 who played just over 800 games in the NHL primarily with the Hartford Whalers. He transitioned into coaching during the 1999-2000 season when he joined the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL as a head coach. He would spend six seasons in the Western Hockey League before making the jump to the NHL with the team that drafted him spending seven seasons as an assistant in Washington. Evason went to the American Hockey League next spending six years in Milwaukee as head coach. In 2018-19 he went to Minnesota where he spent two seasons as an assistant before becoming Wild head coach. He spent three seasons as bench boss in St. Paul.

Todd Nelson is from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He was drafted by the Penguins in 1989 but the defenceman was limited to three NHL games. He turned his focus to coaching in 2001-02 in the UHL before he became an assistant in the AHL with the Wolves in 2006-07. He got the call up to the NHL as an assistant with the team that would become the Jets as he joined Atlanta in 2008-09 as an assistant for two seasons. He would spend four full seasons as head coach of the Barons (Oilers farm team) in the AHL before he got another role as an assistant head coach in 2014-15 in the NHL which morphed into a head coaching job for 46 games that season in Edmonton. He became head coach of Grand Rapids leading them to a Calder Cup championship in 2016-17, joined the Stars as an assistant coach from 2018-19 to 2021-22 and now is head coach of the Hershey Bears in the AHL where he led them last season to a championship and has a good chance to do the same this year.

One interesting thing to note is that as Friedman said above Nelson is still involved in the playoffs as the Bears are taking on the Wolfpack in the Atlantic Division Finals. If the Jets wanted to wait to chat with him that might not be until sometime in mid to late June.

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