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Who’s Next? Analyzing Who Could Be The Golden Knights Next Coach

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Vegas Golden Knights potential head coach Barry Trotz New York Islanders (Photo- New York Islanders via Twitter)

On Monday, the Vegas Golden Knights fired head coach Peter DeBoer. The decision was both a bit surprising, but also something we saw coming.

Despite having Stanley Cup expectations, the Golden Knights missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2022. They had over 500 man-games lost due to injury, but McCrimmon and co. felt as if it was time to shake things up in the room and give the VGK a new voice.

“We are in the results business. The decision is about next year. It is about starting with a fresh voice and a reenergized team. It is about a group of players with something to prove and that is the attitude we want to take into next season. This was part of that,” said McCrimmon on Monday.

McCrimmon made it clear in his press conference that the Golden Knights are just now beginning their search for a new head coach. The Golden Knights join the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks as teams currently without a head coach in the offseason.

“We haven’t put any work into who those candidates are yet. These were independent decisions that the offseason allows you to do… We are going to go through a process to hire the best possible candidate that we can hire and bring him in here to lead our team,” said McCrimmon.

With the vacancy of a bench boss, let’s review some potential names the Golden Knights could go after on the coaching market. This will be a two-part series, releasing on Wednesday and Thursday.

Barry Trotz- The Big Fish

Let’s start with the big one. Similar to the Golden Knights, the New York Islanders fired head coach Barry Trotz after their team with high expectations, also missed the playoffs. Trotz is one of the most accomplished head coaches in NHL history and third all-time in coaching wins.

The 59-year-old has 23 years of experience with the Islanders, Nashville Predators, and Washington Capitals. Trotz has also already hoisted the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas, as he won it with the Capitals in 2018. He has made the playoffs in 14 of his 23 years in the NHL and won the Jack Adams Award twice in 2016 and 2019. His all-time record is that of 914 wins, 670 losses, 60 ties, and 100 overtime losses.

Trotz has also coached both Robin Lehner and Chandler Stephenson before.

When asked if Trotz could be a potential candidate for the VGK, McCrimmon stated the following.

“We will identify what we are interested in. I do not know if that will be eight names, ten names, or six names… To speak to a specific candidate, it is just not the right time to have that discussion.”

The Golden Knights may have been beaten out by the Winnipeg Jets however as they have reportedly already interviewed Trotz for their vacant head coach position. Trotz is from Winnipeg, which has led many to speculate on him taking a hometown discount to coach the Jets.

VHN’s Take: While he is the best option out there, I don’t think he will still be available once the Golden Knights get into their hiring process. I’ll bet money he ends up in Winnipeg.

Rick Tocchet- TNT to VGK

Rick Tocchet has never had a true chance to shine as a head coach in the National Hockey League. In his two stints as a head coach, he coached both the struggling early 2010s Lightning, most recently the Arizona Coyotes from 2017 to 2021.

Tocchet is, of course, famous outside of his work as a coach as he played over 1,000 games as a player and won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992. He is also popular nowadays for his work with TNT and their coverage of the NHL.

While Tocchet may not seem like a flashy candidate for a head coach, he has some under-the-radar characteristics that I think at least get him an interview with the VGK. His ability to work with star players is something Tochett has excelled at in years past.

The most famous example of this is his connection with Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin when he was an assistant coach with the Penguins. Tocchet managed to cool the situation between Geno and Phil and get them to perform to the best of their abilities which resulted in two Stanley Cups.

Tocchet’s time in Pittsburgh showed that he knows how to juggle his star players and get the most out of them. Given the Golden Knights roster of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Shea Theodore, Jack Eichel, Alex Pietrangelo, Jonathan Marchessault, and Robin Lehner, Tocchett could coach in the desert once more.

VHN’s Take: I like Tocchet, and I think he could work with the Golden Knights. But I just don’t see this happening for some reason.

Deryk Engelland- Darkhorse Canidate

The Golden Knights are in a unique situation as a young expansion team in the NHL that doesn’t have the luxury of a backlog of historic players. Unless Vadim Shipahyov wants to come and coach this team, the only former player who has a shot at becoming a bench boss for the VGK is Deryk Engelland.

An original Golden Knight, Engelland knows firsthand what it means to be a misfit. He played 11 seasons in the NHL as a rugged shutdown defenseman for the Golden Knights, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Calgary Flames and

Engelland is currently serving as the Golden Knight’s “Special Assistant to the Owner.”

Perhaps a promotion is in line for him given his commitment to the team and the city of Las Vegas. Despite being a Canadian, Engelland played minor hockey with the Las Vegas Wranglers and has called the city home ever since.

McCrimmon stated that the Golden Knights would not “pigeon-hole” themselves in hiring a coach with NHL experience. Engelland has no experience coaching professional hockey.

VHN’s Take: As fun as this would be, the Golden Knights need to hire someone with a good bit of coaching experience and Engelland simply does not have that. I can see Engelland continuing his work with Golden Knights management and potentially becoming a player development coach or even assistant coach someday.

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Owen Krepps covers the Vegas Golden Knights for Vegas Hockey Now and writes for the Boulder City Review-Journal. A 2022 Robert Morris University graduate, he has previously written for RMU Sentry Media, Colonial Sports Network, The Titusville Herald, Pittsburgh Sports Now, and Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

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