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Ex-Jets MacLean, Carlyle on Sochi coaching list

Team Canada GM Yzerman can't go wrong with either

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There's going to be at least one opening on Team Canada's coaching staff for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and a pair of former Winnipeg Jets are legitimate candidates.

Ottawa Senators bench boss Paul MacLean and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle will both get attention from Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman and his head coach when they get around to putting together a staff.

Almost certainly it will be Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock back to run the bench after his gold-medal turn at Vancouver in 2010.

Babcock and Yzerman are a winning combo and with the GM already back in position, it would be a shock to see him make a change at the top of the coaching pyramid.

Lindy Ruff, Jacques Lemaire and Ken Hitchcock were the assistant coaches in Vancouver, and if Babcock was to return them all, Canada would be well served.

Lemaire is retired and won't be back, making room for at least one new assistant.

Ruff and Hitchcock could both return, but if Hockey Canada was to move toward bringing in some new blood, there are plenty of worthy candidates.

Hockey Canada always feels political pressure to have a Francophone on the staff, and if they elect to bring Ruff and Hitchcock back, this exercise could be as simple as plugging in Claude Julien for Lemaire.

But if there's going to be more change afoot, here's a look at the incumbents and other possibilities.

Lindy Ruff -- A Babcock assistant in 2010 and Canada's head coach at this year's IIHF World Championship, so he's clearly a Hockey Canada guy. It's unclear at this moment if he'll get another NHL bench for next season, but maybe having him free to focus only on the Olympics wouldn't be viewed as such a bad thing. He'll be back.

Claude Julien -- A Stanley Cup winner and Jack Adams Trophy recipient, Julien has all the credentials. Julien has worked with Hockey Canada as an assistant at the world junior and the world championship.

Paul MacLean -- A finalist for this year's Jack Adams Trophy, MacLean and Babcock have a long association and most recently worked together with the Red Wings. The Ottawa Senators head coach and one-time Winnipeg Jet played for Team Canada at the 1980 Winter Olympics. MacLean gets players to play for him and would be a nice fit as an assistant.

Joel Quenneville -- Hard to ignore one of the most successful NHL coaches over the last five years or so, with a Stanley Cup and Jack Adams on his resum©. Quenneville won the Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and has them again firing on all cylinders. Also won a Cup as an assistant in Colorado with the Avalanche. Versatile, while both tough and able to relate with players, Quenneville would be a deserving choice.

Randy Carlyle -- A Stanley Cup winner and one of the best in-game coaches in the NHL. Carlyle has a knack for getting the most out of defencemen, whether they be Hall of Famers or rookies. The one-time Manitoba Moose coach and former Winnipeg Jets defenceman would be a great addition for Babcock.

Ken Hitchcock -- A defensive genius, Hitchcock has coached for Canada on eight different occasions. The St. Louis Blues head coach is a Stanley Cup champion as well as an Olympic gold medal winner. In other words, Hitchcock is a lock.

Dave Tippett -- The 2010 winner of the Jack Adams Trophy was a player with Canada back in the old national team program. Tippett is widely considered an elite coach and if the ownership situation in Phoenix doesn't get cleared up, he'll be among the hottest free agents on the market this summer. Tippett has worked with Hockey Canada on a number of occasions.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2013 C3

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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