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32 Thoughts: Talking Winnipeg Jets coaching search and having a local connection

Latest from the insiders on the coaching situation in Winnipeg.

On today’s 32 Thoughts podcast featuring Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman the two chat about the Jets coaching search at the 36:06 mark.

Begins with Marek talking about his chat with Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff at the NHL Combine last week in Buffalo saying he didn’t want to comment about it. Marek went on to mention the names they discussed on Saturday being Scott Arniel and Rick Tocchet amongst others (Trotz, etc).

Marek then asked Friedman about St. Louis Blues assistant coach Jim Montgomery. He was also a member of the Manitoba Moose 1.0 for one season back in 1999-2000.

Friedman went on to say:

“Jim Montgomery. I wouldn’t be surprised if Montgomery is a Chicago guy potentially too. The St. Louis coaches, I’ve heard teams like all three of them to varying degrees. Jim Montgomery I did not realize this, he played for the Manitoba Moose so there is a little bit of a connection there. Actually I wanted to talk about something with you. I got a note from someone I know who lives in Winnipeg and he said that he doesn’t like that it always seems to be someone with a Winnipeg or Manitoba connection that always seems to be mentioned for these jobs. Arniel obviously has a connection there, I didn’t realize Montgomery has a connection there, Tocchet doesn’t so he’ll be happy to hear a different name. He was asking what I thought about that and it’s not something I reached out to ask anyone there now but I’ve talked about it with people before and Paul Maurice was a guy who didn’t have Winnipeg connections so they have gone out before. But one of the things I’ve talked about with them in the past is that I think Winnipeg is a very unique market in the NHL. It’s a small town, but it’s a very passionate town about it’s team, the fans love their Jets, they care a lot, that passion is a great thing, I never think it’s bad to have fans who are rabid about your team. It’s climate is unique. Is that a polite enough way for me to say it? It’s a fishbowl. The Jets have felt at times that it takes a person to really understand what they’re getting into to go there. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just that if you’re not used to it it can be a big adjustment. I think that’s why the Jets have a real partial lean to people who either are from there, like Trotz is, or have had experience being there like Arniel has or Jim Montgomery would have. That doesn’t necessarily mean they go in that direction. Maurice is an example of where they changed it. But this is such a big offseason for them, this is such a big hire for that team that I do think they look at it and say ‘Ok we cant, I don’t know if risk is the right word, but we have to make sure that the person who comes here will understand the situation that they’re getting into and the market they are going to’. Look I don’t think that should shutout other good candidates like say a Rick Tocchet as you mentioned but I think if it comes down to someone who you think will be more comfortable in the environment that they are going to, I don’t think that’s a wrong thing to look at.”

Marek followed that up with talk about how the late Dale Hawerchuk would have been an excellent fit in Winnipeg given his history here.

Friedman concluded the Jets portion of the discussion with another former Jets/Moose connection who wanted to be interviewed for the head coaching role:

“You know who wanted to be interviewed there this year was Randy Carlyle. Randy Carlyle wanted to be interviewed for the head coaching job of the Jets. Now I don’t think that’s going anywhere but there are people who really understand and know how special it can be and he is one of them.”

Lastly, Friedman did circle back to talk about a rumour  (41:53 mark of podcast) he had heard about years ago suggesting that Dale Hawerchuk could have potentially been slated to take over for Claude Noel when the first ever Jets 2.0 coach was struggling.