The New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs and more teams will benefit from the NHL's best off-ice moves of the summer.
11. Chicago Blackhawks hire Kevin Dineen as assistant coach
Forget the Florida debacle. Dineen pulled off one of the most amazing coaching jobs in recent memory when he took over Canada's women's team just six weeks out from the Sochi Olympics. With almost no time to prepare, he healed a damaged room, gave his players a new focus and led them to an unlikely gold medal. He proved in Sochi that he knows how to push the buttons of elite players—an element he'll deal with more frequently in Chicago than he ever did in Sunrise—and that he can adapt to new challenges. He's a smart, hard working leader whose long-term relationship with coach Joel Quenneville makes him a natural fit behind the bench with the Blackhawks.
10. Washington Capitals hire Mitch Korn as goalie coach
There might not be any reason to celebrate the team's hiring of GM Brian MacLellan, but bringing in Barry Trotz as the new coach was a solid move. Adding Korn is even better. The goaltending guru played a key role in the development of Dominik Hasek and Pekka Rinne, among others, and he has a knack for getting the best out of keepers no matter what their style. Korn has a hard road ahead of him in Washington, where starter Braden Holtby is attempting to regain the swagger he had as a rookie, and a slew of young goalies are looking to establish themselves as legitimate NHL players. If anyone can help them get there, it's Korn.
9. Vancouver Canucks hire Willie Desjardins as coach
His name might not have the marquee value of the man he's replacing, but being the antithesis of the brash John Tortorella is what makes Desjardins the perfect coach for a team that's embarking on what could be a long rebuilding process. Highly regarded in the industry for his thoughtful approach to the game, Dejardins comes to his first NHL gig after winning the 2014 AHL championship with the Texas Stars. He proved at Texas, and at every other career stop, that he is a master communicator who has the rare ability to bring out the best in kids. Hard to imagine a better choice for Vancouver.
8. Washington Capitals fire general manager George McPhee
The coaching carousel. The fractured dressing room. The string of draft disappointments. The inability to create or sustain postseason success. McPhee had a decent run during his 17 years on the job, but by the end it was clear that he'd played all his cards. He left the Caps a haphazardly constructed unit—good, but nowhere near good enough, and nowhere close to heading in the right direction. Getting rid of him was the right move. Now if only there were any reason to be enthused about his replacement, Brian MacLellan. Any reason at all ...
7. Philadelphia Flyers promote Ron Hextall to general manager
Maybe the Flyers made the move to prevent him from being poached by Washington. Or maybe owner Ed Snider finally grasped that Paul Holmgren's plan wasn't getting the team anywhere. Either way, Philly locked down a man who is regarded as one of the brightest young minds in the game, a proven winner who made significant contributions to building a championship team in Los Angeles. His slower pace might frustrate fans who are accustomed to Holmgren's win-now approach to asset management, but the time Hextall takes will be well worth it if he can emulate the success of his previous employer.
6. Carolina Hurricanes hire Bill Peters as coach
Just as Todd McLellan and Paul MacLean did before him, Peters parlayed a stint as an assistant to Red Wings coach Mike Babcock into his own NHL coaching gig. Though Peters lacked the star power of some of the other candidates who were in contention for the job, he should be a good fit for Carolina. In Detroit, he worked primarily with the blueliners and the penalty kill, two areas that are primed for improvement in Raleigh.
5. Detroit Red Wings re-sign Jeff Blashill to coach AHL Grand Rapids
Detroit has become the Bonneville Salt Flats of the NHL, the fast-track proving ground for aspiring coaches (see move No. 6) and executives. Looking to put an end to the brain drain from his team, GM Ken Holland secured Blashill's future in the organization with a three-year deal. That keeps the 2013 AHL champ and 2014 AHL Coach of the Year in line to replace Babcock, who has one year remaining on his contract and has yet to commit to his future with the club.
4. Jim Rutherford "steps down" as GM of the Hurricanes
An executive can only dine out on a Stanley Cup for so long, especially when his team fails to make the playoffs in seven of the next eight seasons. The 'Canes have been an organization in disarray since their 2006 championship, hobbled by poor drafting—only one player, Brandon Sutter, has emerged from Carolina's first four drafts after its Cup win as a legitimate NHL talent—spotty trades and questionable spending in free agency. There were plenty of hands involved in those decisions, but the responsibility lies with Rutherford, a man who clearly lost his way. It's incomprehensible that he was hired weeks later to salvage a Penguins team that's deep in the rough.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs hire Kyle Dubas as assistant GM
Whether you're a believer in the power of Corsi or not, you have to give Brendan Shanahan credit. The Maple Leafs are a bad team seeking to get better, and the hiring of Dubas, a statistically-inclined hockey mind, indicates that Shanahan will leave no stone unturned as he attempts change course. More impressive: The spending on analytics didn't stop with the hiring of Dubas. While a department of numbers-crunchers won't strain the budget, it's an indication that Toronto is ready to flex its considerable financial muscle to make improvements in areas not subject to the limits of the salary cap.
2. Vancouver Canucks hire Jim Benning as GM
You can make the case that the decision to fire Mike Gillis was a knee-jerk reaction to one terrible season, or you can point to his dismal record at the draft and say that it was a long time coming. Either way, the Canucks needed a new man in charge and they landed the one many viewed as the perfect candidate. Benning comes to Vancouver after serving as assistant GM in Boston, where he earned a reputation for having a terrific eye for talent. Success won't come quickly—he'll preach drafting and patient development—but he knows how to build a winner after playing a key role in the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup and their 2014 Presidents' Trophy. He's already proved to be an adept asset manager, handling the unwinnable Ryan Kesler situation with bloodless efficiency, and he came away from the draft with a promising haul of talent. The future looks bright with Benning at the helm.
1. Charles Wang agrees to sell New York Islanders
See, Islanders fans? Dreams can come true. After years of cartoonish mismanagement had humbled the once-proud franchise, Wang finally agreed in August to sell control of the team to investment types Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky. Though the duo will assume a minority role for the next two years, and Wang will not completely leave the picture when he finally hands over majority control, there's no telling how green the grass will become under their stewardship. But anything short of stripping the farm system in order to feed a win-now philosophy will be viewed as a step forward by the team's beleaguered fan base,