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Is Europe an underrated coaching market?

If North American coaches are brought back all the time, why not try a European trained coach?

Hockey: World Cup of Hockey-Final-Team Canada vs Team Europe John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

At some point the Winnipeg Jets are going to have to find a new head coach because all coaches are hired to get fired. When they get to that point with Maurice, they should look to European leagues and the KHL for coaching options. The Jets should look beyond those who they know and interview new candidates to see what they think they could do with the Jets. There are good pieces in Winnipeg if they are used smartly.

This is where the NHL making itself an even smaller world than hockey already is hurts them. Hockey is big in Russia and Europe, but there has not been a European coach since the failed experiment of Ivan Hlinka in Pittsburgh. Hlinka was not the first European-born coach to coach in the NHL, that honour goes to Johnny Gottselig, but he is the first European raised coach. Hlinka did not work out because of the language barrier amongst other reasons, but that does not mean that another coach might not work. Since Hlinka’s time globalization has made it so more and more European coaches speak strong English, allowing them to potentially be able to coach in North America.

There are so many people out there that could potentially offer new ideas to North American hockey as a whole that it would be foolish to not at least interview some good coaches in Europe to hear their thoughts and bring in some fresh ideas. This means going beyond the Marc Crawfords and Paul Maurices and interviewing coaches who have never coached in North America to see how their perspectives differ from someone who learned hockey on this side of the Atlantic. They may not find a match for a head coach; they may only find an assistant or no one at all, but it is better to try and not find the match than never try at all. Europe and Russia have had professional leagues for years and yet only three men have ever called themselves European and coached in the NHL. There are others who have coached in Europe between NHL jobs, but that is not the same as growing up in the different culture and having different perspectives on the same game. It is about having a broader world view and wanting to bring in a different perspective.

Every coach in professional sports is hired to be fired. The NHL has not had a European coach since Ivan Hlinka in 2001. The league as a whole would benefit from including Europeans as coaches. The first team that does this might just get rewarded with some new thinking that changes their tactics for the better.