Front-runners emerging for Wild coaching job

The Wild could have interviews with their top three head coach candidates completed this week.

The Wild could have interviews with their top three head coach candidates completed this week.

After formally interviewing interim coach John Torchetti, Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher flew to Southern California, home of jobless coaches Bruce Boudreau and Randy Carlyle, according to a report from Canada-based TSN.

Those three are emerging as front-runners to serve as the franchise's fourth head coach, although Bob Hartley, fired by the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, could join that list.

Boudreau, fired by the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, is widely seen as the top bench boss available. No active coach has a better career points percentage than the .659 he has accumulated in nine seasons with the Ducks and Washington Capitals.

Boudreau, 61, told the Orange County Register that he lost his voice Sunday after spending "15 hours a day" talking to teams about potential openings Friday and Saturday. In addition to meeting with the Wild, Boudreau is expected to talk with the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames about their vacancies.


The Wild likely will pitch a win-now opportunity for Boudreau, who might have more chances to develop prospects with the Flames or Senators but would have fewer established veterans than the Wild, including U.S. Olympians Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

The Wild have made the postseason the past four seasons, advancing to the Western Conference semifinals in 2013-14 and 2014-15 after beating the Central Division champion in the first round, Colorado and St. Louis, respectively.

With the Wild on an eight-game losing streak, fifth-year coach Mike Yeo was fired in mid-February and replaced by Torchetti, the team's AHL coach who coaxed the erratic Wild into the second wild-card spot despite finishing the regular-season on a five-game losing streak.

Days after the Wild lost a six-game first-round series to conference champion Dallas, Fletcher called Torchetti a "serious" candidate but didn't discount the view that after two first-year coaches in Yeo and Todd Richards, the Wild need an experienced head coach.

"I think it's important that we find a coach that can hold the players accountable and put a system in place and get them to execute the system and hold them accountable to it," Fletcher said in his season-ending news conference April 28. "It's up to the players to buy into what we're doing and to do the right things from a team perspective."

It appears likely Fletcher also will meet with Carlyle while in California. He won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, beating the Wild in the first round, and joined the Ducks for Fletcher's final season in their front office (2005-06).

Carlyle, 60, spent parts of seven seasons with the Ducks before parts of four seasons as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was fired by the Maple Leafs, with a winning record, 40 games into the 2014-15 season.

Fletcher's trip to California comes while the NHL's coaching carousel begins to pick up. Calgary on Tuesday became the fourth NHL team looking for a new coach.

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