Held in the middle of the NHL season, the Spengler Cup in Switzerland is often an afterthought among international events. Yet, Team Canada has put together quite the formidable group to lead their entry into the late December tournament, in pursuit of a fourth consecutive title. Hockey Canada has announced that Sean Burke and Ron Francis will put the Spengler Cup team together as co-GM’s, while Kevin Dineen will lead the selections as the head coach. Not only does that trio have extensive NHL playing careers on their resumes, but each have had success in their off-ice roles as well. Dineen has spent 14 seasons behind an NHL bench, including three as the head coach of the Florida Panthers, and has international coaching experience as well. His assistants, Gordie Dwyer and Mike Kitchen, are no strangers to the job either. Burke, currently a scout for the Montreal Canadiens, is familiar with Team Canada, having served as GM for the 2018 Olympic team, part of the management group for past four IIHF World Championship entries, as well as the GM of the past two Spengler Cup teams. However, it is Francis that sticks out the most. The former Carolina Hurricanes GM is currently considered a candidate for the Philadelphia Flyers’ new vacancy and, should the position remain open through the end of the calendar year, Francis’ efforts to put together a winning Spengler Cup team could be seen as part of his case for the job.
- Another candidate for the Flyers’ GM vacancy – and perhaps the favorite – is former Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. Fletcher was let go by the Wild this off-season and joined the New Jersey Devils as an executive, but is still held in high esteem by most in the game. Many pundits have suggested that he is the front runner for the job and now TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the wheels appear to be in motion. The Devils have given the Flyers permission to speak with Fletcher, McKenzie says, and reiterates the sentiment that he would be the preferred hire. Although Minnesota was unable to reach the ultimate goal, Fletcher had the team on a six-season postseason streak when he was dismissed and the Wild, currently with the third-best record in the Western Conference, have a core of veteran and young contributors that was by and large put together by Fletcher. The experienced executive would be a more than capable GM for Philadelphia.
- The Boston Bruins front office may soon be facing a decision, albeit to a much smaller extent. After he appeared to be weighing a return to Europe, Jan Kovar instead finds himself one step closer to his desired destination – another shot at the NHL. The Bruins announced this morning that Kovar, who has been playing with their AHL affiliate in Providence, was up practicing in Boston today. The question remains whether or not Kovar earns a contract with the Bruins, something that Lee Stempniak was unable to do despite ample practice time with the team. Boston is without Patrice Bergeron, but still has David Krejci and has been getting admirable efforts from rookie Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and veteran Joakim Nordstrom in his unnatural position. Yet, the team scratched Sean Kuraly in their last game and is still struggling to get secondary scoring. It may be the exact scenario that Kovar needed to get a second chance after quickly flaming out with the New York Islanders earlier this season.