The Anaheim Ducks will enter the 2023-24 season with a new head coach at the helm. Anaheim parted ways with Dallas Eakins on Friday, deciding against renewing his contract.
Eakins spent four seasons behind the bench for the Ducks. He never led the Ducks to the playoffs, but he did guide the team through their current rebuilding state.
Anaheim is potentially the most attractive head coaching opportunity this offseason. The Ducks boast an amazing young core of forwards Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, and Mason McTavish. Defenseman Jamie Drysdale is also a part of this core.
Beyond that, the Ducks also hold the highest odds of receiving the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. Should they earn that pick through the NHL Draft Lottery, they will add generational talent Connor Bedard into the mix.
With all that said, here are three candidates to lead this young core as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks.
3. Joe Sacco, Boston Bruins assistant coach
The Boston Bruins have completed one of the greatest regular season finishes in NHL history. Their assistant coaches will certainly receive looks this offseason for head coaching vacancies around the league.
Sacco has received a few looks himself over the years. In fact, the veteran assistant coach was a candidate for the Bruins opening last season. However, the team went with then-St. Louis Blues assistant Jim Montgomery.
Before his time with the Bruins, he spent four years as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. He made one postseason appearance with the team, losing in the first round in 2010.
The Ducks could give Sacco a second chance at running his own team. And it could be a massive coup for an Anaheim team looking to return to the postseason sooner rather than later.
2. Jessica Campbell, Coachella Valley Firebirds assistant coach
Campbell became the first woman to step behind an AHL bench when she joined the Seattle Kraken‘s affiliate last summer. And she looks to be on the fast track to an NHL job within the next few years.
The 30-year-old Campbell has garnered support from a few players around the league. She ran skating sessions during the pandemic for players such as New York Islanders star Mat Barzal, among others.
She then found work coaching in Germany, coaching in the country’s top league. Campbell also served as an assistant coach for the German national team at the IIHF World Championship last summer, impressing the likes of Ottawa Senators star Tim Stutzle and Detroit Red Wings star Moritz Seider.
After a historic offseason for women in hockey last season, Campbell has a legitimate shot at a head coaching gig at some point in the next few years. The Ducks may be wise to give Campbell her shot before another team comes along.
1. Andrew Brunette, New Jersey Devils assistant coach
Brunette’s performance as interim head coach of the Florida Panthers last season should have earned him a head coaching gig this year. It didn’t happen, and he spent the season with the New Jersey Devils.
Brunette led the Panthers to their first-ever President’s Trophy last year. This year, he’s helped the Devils win more than 50 games for the second time in franchise history.
Brunette, a former player in his own right, is more than ready to lead a team once again. He could be the next man up in New Jersey when future Hall of Famer Lindy Ruff calls it a career.
However, the Ducks have a huge opportunity to hire the best coaching candidate on the market this season. There is no better candidate to lead Anaheim into the next era of their franchise. Only time will tell if Brunette is the man for the job in Orange County.
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