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Penguins Notebook: Possible Reirden Replacements; Going for Gold

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David Quinn

No one from the Pittsburgh Penguins’ front office — which essentially is to say, president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas — has spoken with local reporters since associate coach Todd Reirden was fired three weeks ago, so there’s no way of knowing precisely what qualities the team will seek in Reirden’s replacement.

Will the new coach take on Reirden’s primary responsibilities — the defense corps and the power play — or will Mike Sullivan change his staff’s duties? Are Sullivan and Dubas more interested in adding an experienced coach or a promising young one? How important will it be for the newcomer to have ties to the organization, or the people in authority there?

The Penguins presumably would be willing to give whoever is hired the “associate” title Reirden held, although that won’t necessarily be enough to lure someone who is intent on accepting nothing less than a head-coaching position at this level.

In any case, here are some potential candidates who represent a cross-section of the coaching community:

David Carle

He doesn’t have any experience as a player or coach in the NHL, but guided the University of Denver to national championships in 2022 and 2024. While the lack of time at this level might dissuade some NHL teams from pursuing him as a head coach, an assistant/associate gig could work to the benefit of both parties.

Dallas Eakins

Although his resume includes 120 games as a defenseman in the NHL, Eakins is best-known as a former coach in Edmonton and Anaheim. Neither of those clubs qualified for the playoffs during his five-plus seasons behind their benches, and he currently is coach and GM of Adler Mannheim in Germany.

John Gruden

Gruden is the father of Penguins prospect Jonathan Gruden and played 92 games on defense in the NHL. He’s now head coach of Toronto’s American Hockey League affiliate (hired a few months after Dubas was fired by the Maple Leafs) following five seasons as an NHL assistant.

Jay Leach

An assistant coach in Seattle, Leach made it into 70 NHL games as (you guessed it) a defenseman. His coaching career began as an assistant — and briefly, the top guy — with the Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre in 2015-16.

Todd Nelson

The Penguins’ fourth-round draft choice in 1989, Nelson had a brief¬† NHL career (one game with the Penguins, two with Washington) but has had a productive coaching career. He’s been an assistant with Dallas and Edmonton — he briefly led the Oilers in 2014-15 — and now is the head coach of Washington’s top farm team, Hershey, which is chasing its second consecutive Calder Cup title.

David Quinn

Whether being a friend and college teammate of Sullivan would enhance Quinn’s chances of being hired is hard to say, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. A first-round draft choice of Minnesota’s in 1989, Quinn never played in the league but his long coaching career includes stints with the New York Rangers and San Jose, the latter of which fired him this spring.

Ryan Warsofsky

The brother of former Penguins defenseman David Warsofsky, he was one of Quinn’s assistants with the Sharks for the past two seasons. Warsofsky won the AHL championship as head coach in Chicago in 2022 and did not lose his job in San Jose when Quinn was fired.

The end is near

The world championships in Czechia have reached the semifinals, and three Penguins players still have a chance to leave the tournament with a gold medal.

Defensemen Erik Karlsson and Marcus Pettersson play for Sweden, which will face the host country in one semi Saturday, while Canada, whose roster includes Michael Bunting, takes on Switzerland in the other.

The winners of those two games will play Sunday for the championship.

Three Penguins players — U.S. goalie Alex Nedeljkovic and Finnish forwards Valtteri Puustinen and Jesse Puljujarvi — were members of clubs that were eliminated by losses in the quarterfinals.