With the 2021 offseason officially underway for the Sabres, the team is likely to start heating up its search for the next head coach in Buffalo over the coming weeks.
According to a report from TSN hockey insider Pierre LeBrun on Friday, the Sabres already have several candidates lined up to interview for the open head coaching job. The two names brought up by LeBrun specifically were Rick Tocchet and Bruce Boudreau.
LeBrun also believes that Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams wants to talk to as many potential candidates as he can, including coaches from the college ranks. However the team is in no rush to make a hire.
Don Granato is still considered to be in the mix for the head coaching job in Buffalo after leading the Sabres to a 9-16-3 record in 28 games as the interim head coach this past season. Granato took over for Ralph Krueger at the midway point of the 2020-21 campaign after an abysmal 6-18-4 start.
Tocchet is a familiar name when discussing potential coaching candidates in Buffalo over the years. The 57-year-old was reportedly a finalist for the Sabres' opening at head coach in 2017 that eventually went to Phil Housley. He went on to be hired by the Arizona Coyotes nearly a month later on July 11.
Over the past four seasons as head coach in the desert, Tocchet led the Coyotes to a 125-131-34 record and one appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2020. That appearance in the postseason was helped by the Return to Play plan the NHL put in place last season that saw the Coyotes in the Play-In Round as an 11-seed. They managed to upset the Nashville Predators to advance to the Western Conference Quarterfinal Round, where they lost in five games to the Colorado Avalanche.
This past season in Arizona, Tocchet coached the Coyotes to a 24-26-6 record in 56 games in the final year of his contract. At the conclusion of the season, both Tocchet and the Coyotes "mutually agreed to part ways."
Tocchet also has past experience as a head coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2008 to 2010, where he put up a 53-69-26 record in 149 games behind the bench. He took over for Barry Melrose as an interim head coach during the 2008-09 season before being named to the full-time position after the season. However, he only coached one full season before being relieved of his duties following the 2009-10 season.
As for Boudreau, he did not coach anywhere this past season after being fired as head coach of the Minnesota Wild back on Feb. 14, 2020.
The 66-year-old is a longtime veteran behind the bench in the NHL, coaching three different teams over a 13-year span.
Boudreau spent parts of five seasons coaching the Washington Capitals, where he put up a 201-88-40 record in 329 games before being fired just 22 games into the 2011-12 season. In that span, Boudreau helped the Capitals to four-consecutive playoff appearances, but could never get Washington beyond the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round.
Just a couple days after being let go in Washington, Boudreau landed back on his feet as the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks. In parts of five seasons in Anaheim, Boudreau managed to register a 208-104-40 record in the regular season, which included four division titles and more success this time around in the postseason.
In 43 playoff games, the Ducks went 24-19 under Boudreau and advanced as far as the Western Conference Final in 2015. That year saw Anaheim fall in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
After a first round exit in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boudreau was fired again, but landed in Minnesota just eight days later as head coach of the Wild.
However, Boudreau's tenure as head coach in Minnesota did not go so well as his previous stints. In parts of four seasons in St. Paul, Boudreau registered a 158-110-35 coaching record and helped the Wild to two appearances in the playoffs. But in those two trips to the postseason, both resulted in five-game exits in 2017 and 2018.
After just 57 games behind the bench in the 2019-20 season, the Wild fired Boudreau and replaced him with assistant coach Dean Evason. The team was struggling at the time of his firing, posting just a 27-23-7 record.
Boudreau has earned one Jack Adams Award in his career as the NHL's Coach of the Year. That honor came in his first season with the Capitals, where he turned the team's season around with a 37-17-7 record in the final 61 games.