Here are the current NHL head coaches who spent their younger days as professional players on the ice (in at least 15 games).
October 08, 2015
1 of 10Scott Levy/Getty Images; Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images
A Norris Trophy winner and four-time NHL All-Star, defenseman Randy Carlyle retired after 17 seasons with 148 goals, 499 assists, 647 points and 1,400 penalty minutes in 1,055 games. Through 10 seasons as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks (2005-11) and Toronto Maple Leafs (2012-15), Carlyle amassed a 364-260-80 record. He returned to the Ducks to become their head coach for the second time prior to the 2016-17 season.
2 of 10Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images; Jeff Haynes
Nicknamed “Herbie,” he was a slow but smart defenseman in the NHL for nearly 13 seasons with five teams. A first round pick by Toronto in 1978 after a 103-point season in juniors, he never fulfilled his offensive promise and was included in the Leafs’ infamous trade of future Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald to Colorado in ‘79. The Hartford Whalers later named Herbie their most valuable blueliner in ’84 and ’85. Through eight seasons as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, Quenneville is 363-181-74 with three Stanley Cups.
3 of 10Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images; Mark Humphrey/AP
Tippett starred in junior (Prince Albert) and college (North Dakota) hockey before being named captain of Team Canada for the 1984 Winter Olympics. Undrafted, he signed with the Whalers after the Games and spent 10 seasons in the NHL as a dependable, hard working two-way winger. Through seven seasons as head coach of the Arizona Coyotes, Tippett is 252-215-73.
4 of 10Aubrey Washington/Getty Images; Gene J. Puskar/AP
The journeyman center had an 11-year NHL career (1991-2002) in which he accumulated 54 goals, 82 assists, 136 points and 203 penalty minutes in 709 games. Sullivan became the head coach of AHL Providence Bruins during the 2002-03 season and was named head coach of the Boston Bruins the following season. On Dec. 12, 2015, Sullivan was brought on to replace then-head coach Mike Johnston, and he went on to become just the sixth head coach in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after being hired mid-season. There is no denying that Mike Sullivan is the biggest reason for the triumph. Sullivan’s mentality changed the entire team culture — he got players to buy into his coaching style — and got the Pens going again.
5 of 10Steve Babineau, Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images
Ruff’s last name describes his style of play as a rugged defensive forward for 12 often injury-plagued seasons with the Sabres and Rangers. The quintessential “glue guy,” he was good for 10-20 goals and 20-40 points during his prime in the 1980s. He even spent some time manning the blueline. Through three seasons as head coach of the Dallas Stars, Ruff is 131-85-30.
6 of 10Denis Brodeur, Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images
Undersized (5’ 10”, 185) with the tenacity of a junkyard dog, Gallant was a feisty winger on Detroit teams of the mid-80s and early ‘90s that featured the bruising likes of Bob Probert and Joey Kocur. He also had enough skill to skate on Steve Yzerman’s line, scoring 34 or more goals in four straight seasons. He finished his career with Tampa Bay in 1994. Through his first two seasons as head coach of the Florida Panthers, Gallant is 85-55-24.
7 of 10Scott Levy/Getty Images; Ann Heisenfelt/AP
A brainy high school golf and baseball star, Bylsma played college hockey at Bowling Green. He was drafted by Winnipeg in the sixth round of the 1989 NHL Draft but later signed with the Kings. A defensive forward, he spent his nine seasons in the NHL with L.A. and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, for whom he became an alternate captain. Bylsma, who coached the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup in 2009 after replacing Michel Terrien through most of the season, was named head coach of the Buffalo Sabres prior to the 2015-16 season. Through his first season as head coach, Bylsma is 35-36-11.
8 of 10Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images; Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images
The second of the six Sutter brothers to reach the NHL, Darryl was an 11th round pick by Chicago in 1978. He spent a season playing in Japan before scoring 40 goals for the Blackhawks as a rookie in 1980-81. He later broke Bobby Hull’s team record for most goals during a playoff season (12, in 1984-85). A litany of injuries ended his playing career at age 29. Through five seasons as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, Sutter is 186-112-45 with two Stanley Cups.
9 of 10Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images; Paul Battaglia/AP
A 165-point scorer in juniors, “Gabby” was drafted by Toronto in the third round of the ’75 NHL Draft but began his career with Minnesota of the WHA. His slacker attitude nearly made him a career minor leaguer despite his considerable offensive skills. He managed to surface in the NHL during parts of eight seasons with the Leafs and Blackhawks, his “career year” being an 11-18-29 campaign with Toronto in ’77-78. Boudreau coached the Washington Capitals from 2007-12 and the Anaheim Ducks from 2012-16 with a combined record of 409-192-80. He was named head coach of the Minnesota Wild prior to the 2016-17 season.
10 of 10Courtesy of greatesthockeylegends.com; Minas Panagiotakis/Icon Sportswire
An eighth round pick by the Blues in 1981, Vigneault spent only parts of two seasons in the NHL. His most notable moment in the league might have been the fight he had in his first game, vs. Chicago in ’81. He saw action with the Blues in four postseason games in 1983 (producing an assist and 26 PIM) but wrapped up his playing career in the minors the following season. Through two seasons as head coach of the New York Rangers, Vigneault is 144-80-22.
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