When a 38-year-old Dan Bylsma steered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship five years ago, the trend in the NHL became to hire head coaches from the AHL.
Scott Arniel, Kirk Muller, Kevin Dineen, Dallas Eakins, Todd Richards, Mike Yeo, Guy Boucher and Randy Cunneyworth all went from an AHL job to behind an NHL bench after Bylsma's title run.
Richards had a season-long stopover as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks before he took over the 2009-10 Minnesota Wild. Cunneyworth went from the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs to the 2011-12 Montreal Canadiens as an assistant coach, but became the head coach 32 games into the season.
Bylsma had only 54 games of head coaching experience in the AHL before he took over the Penguins late in the 2008-09 season. But it wasn't only Bylsma's exploits in Pittsburgh. The immediate success of Bruce Boudreau behind the Washington Capitals' bench certainly helped the cause of the good AHL coach.
Experience over youth?
It will be interesting to see if that trend continues with the NHL's four remaining vacant head coaching positions (with Pittsburgh, the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks). Or will veteran coaches like Marc Crawford and Ron Wilson get the nod?
The recent Stanley Cups won by veteran coaches Joel Quenneville, Claude Julien and Darryl Sutter -- in, respectively, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles -- can't be ignored.
Maybe if a team has the talent in place and appears ready to win -- like the Penguins and Canucks -- it would be more prudent to go with a veteran coach.
To review, here is a synopsis of the last five Stanley Cup-winning head coaches.
Not every veteran coach is going to be a success. There are exceptions to the proverbial rule. John Tortorella, 55, was proof of that in Vancouver this past season. He was a bust.
There also are cases like Richards, who has enjoyed better times with the Columbus Blue Jackets in his second go-around in the NHL after a difficult start with the Wild.
But if you look at the final four teams this spring, there were four veteran coaches leading the way in the experienced Sutter, Quenneville, 53-year-old Alain Vigneault of the New York Rangers and Montreal's 50-year-old Michel Therrien.
Still, as the Canucks, Penguins, Panthers and Hurricanes narrow their searches for a new head coach, there appears to be a wide variety of candidates out there being considered:
Hometown: Kingston, Ont.
NHL experience: Fired halfway through his second season in Columbus, but was a big part of Vigneault's staff in the Rangers' run to the final this season.
Hometown: Grand Haven, Mich.
NHL experience: In six seasons with the Penguins, won 43 playoff games and the 2008-09 Stanley Cup. Career NHL record is 252-117-32.
Hometown: Belleville, Ont.
NHL experience: Steered Colorado to a Stanley Cup in 1995-96 and to West final the following year, but didn't make the playoffs in his last five seasons as coach of the Canucks, Kings and Dallas Stars.
Hometown: Climax, Sask.
NHL experience: Spent two years as an associate coach with Dallas before taking over the Stars' AHL affiliate and winning the Calder Cup this year.
NHL experience: Guided Florida to a 2012 playoff berth, then was fired last November. Rebounded to lead the Canadian women to Olympic gold in Sochi.
Hometown: Dartmouth, N.S.
NHL experience: Spent eight years as Crawford's associate coach in Vancouver and Los Angeles and the past six as coach/GM of the Portland Winter Hawks.
Hometown: Fagersta, Sweden.
NHL experience: Also was on the Rangers' staff this season after a two-year stint as Modo's head coach and five years as an associate coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Hometown: Fort Erie, Ont.
NHL experience: Won 648 games in 18 seasons with Anaheim, Washington, San Jose and Toronto and made the 1998 Stanley Cup final with the Capitals.
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