Dreger: Willie Desjardins may have choice between Canucks, Penguins coaching jobs

Jun 19, 10:44 AM

It appears as though there may be a battle brewing over the coaching services of Willie Desjardins. 

After guiding the Texas Stars to a Calder Cup championship, the 57-year-old is being pursued by at least two teams, between whom he may have to choose.

The Penguins job is believed to be down to two candidates, while the Canucks are reported to be weighing out four candidates, including former Pittsburgh bench boss Dan Bylsma.

With many balls up in the air, Willie may end up being free to take his pick of the litter.

Jun 18, 5:31 PM

Report: Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins to interview in Pittsburgh, Vancouver

Jun 18, 5:31 PM

Fresh off of leading the Texas Stars to the Calder Cup Trophy, head coach Willie Desjardins is one of the hottest commodities on the NHL head coaching market. 

Desjardins, whose Stars finished off the St. John's Ice Caps in Game 5 of the AHL's championship series in Newfoundland on Tuesday night, will have a busy week of interviews ahead of him, according to multiple reports. 

The 57-year-old, who has never been a head coach at the NHL level, is expected to interview with the Pittsburgh Penguins this week according to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review. He's also expected to interview with the Vancouver Canucks this week, reports Sportsnet's Dan Murphy.

Sportsnet's John Shannon has confirmed - through Dallas - that the Canucks have asked for permission to speak with Desjardins. As for the Penguins, Shannon quotes a "Pittsburgh source" telling him that Desjardins isn't a major candidate on their radar for the moment. 

A former associate coach with the Dallas Stars and a one time head coach of the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers, Desjardins has been widely considered the front runner in Vancouver's head coaching search. 

Feature photo courtesy of Mathieu Belanger / REUTERS

Jun 13, 2:45 PM

Stars will allow AHL coach Willie Desjardins to interview for NHL positions

Jun 13, 2:45 PM

One of the top available candidates for vacant NHL positions is currently plying his trade in the AHL, having brought the Texas Stars to within two wins of a Calder Cup championship. That man is Willie Desjardins, and, at season's end, the Dallas Stars will allow him to interview for any coaching job around the League.

Carolina, Florida, Pittsburgh and Vancouver are still in need of a head, and have been held off while Texas remains alive in the AHL playoffs; once the playoffs are over, general manager Jim Nill expects to receive a call or two about the 2013 AHL Coach of the Year.

“The teams have been very conscientious about the playoffs, so they haven’t asked for permission yet, but I’ll definitely grant it,” Nill said, as per the Dallas News. “I believe you want to allow your people to advance, because it’s good for the entire organization. You want your players to advance to the NHL, and you want your coaches and trainers or managers to advance. I think that’s the right way to do things.”

Prior to his AHL head coaching job, Desjardins coached the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers to a championship and a Memorial Cup appearance, and served as an assistant in Dallas from 2010-12. 

It appears as though he's quite comfortable behind the bench, and would relish the opportunity to make the jump to the NHL in that position.

“I like being a head coach, I just do,” he said. “I was very fortunate to work with two great people in Marc Crawford and Glen Gulutzan, but at the same time I like to be able to do the things I need to do. I feel more comfortable as the head coach.”

He may soon get his wish, with a Calder Cup to add to his resume.