Mike Grier

10 head-coach candidates Sharks could consider to replace Quinn

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Mike Grier hasn't said much about what he's looking for in the Sharks' next coach.

"I don't want to rule anyone out if there's someone that we come across that we'd like to speak to,” the Sharks general manager said Wednesday, after David Quinn was fired. "Meeting with the players and reviewing the season, I think I have an idea of what they're looking for, what they need and what I think they need."

And what would that be?

First guess: Grier could be seeking a coach who has a history of getting the most out of his players, is comfortable with developing players during a rebuild, can be more fiery than Quinn, and possesses some degree of pro hockey experience. So, Grier likely is casting a wide net.

So, here are 10 candidates who could be in the mix, with four more probable fits, three veteran bench bosses and three other hot candidates.

Dean Evason

Evason has seen the worst of the Sharks -- he played on the expansion teams that won 28 total games in its first two years. Since then, he has become a successful NHL coach.

Former Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk called Evason "super intense," and that intensity has served him well in more developmental head-coaching spots (WHL from 1999 to 2005; AHL's Milwaukee Admirals from 2012 to 2018). All this led to his first NHL head-coaching stint with the Minnesota Wild, with whom he went 147-77-27 from 2019 to this year, when he was let go midseason.

Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis are among the stars who developed under Evason in Milwaukee.

Jeff Halpern

Grier and Halpern were Washington Capitals teammates from 2002 to 2004. In fact, Grier actually told a Halpern story early this season, after the Sharks started 0-10-1, about how the gritty forwards coped, as players, with a disastrous beginning to the 2003-04 season.

Since then, Halpern has joined the Tampa Bay Lightning organization as a development coach and assistant coach, and won Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021. He doesn't have head-coaching experience, but his developmental background could be a feather in his cap for the Sharks.

Jay Pandolfo

A lot was made of Grier and Quinn's Boston University connection, so maybe Grier will hire another Terrier.

Grier and Pandolfo, the current BU head coach, were college teammates from 1993 to 1996. The checking winger also won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and 2003.

Pandolfo was part of the Boston Bruins organization from 2014 to 2021, as a development coach and director of player development, and chiefly as an assistant coach from 2016 onward.

Oh, and Pandolfo currently coaches Macklin Celebrini, the presumed No. 1 overall pick -- potentially by the Sharks -- in this year's NHL draft.

Marco Sturm

The Sharks fan favorite, who played eight seasons in San Jose, has been considered an NHL head coach in waiting ever since he helmed Germany's surprise silver medal-winning team at the 2018 Olympics.

Sturm has added to his portfolio over the last six years, as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings from 2018 to 2022 and then bench boss for the AHL's Ontario Reign the last two seasons.

Quinton Byfield and Brandt Clarke are two potential stars who have developed under Sturm.

Craig Berube

Why would Berube, who led the St. Louis Blues to a Stanley Cup in 2019 and is considered one of the NHL's top free-agent coaches, take the Sharks job? Just let go in midseason by St. Louis, Berube is a fresh addition to the coaching pool.

Berube likely will be offered better situations than San Jose, if we're being honest. But there's no doubt the once-feared enforcer is an attractive coaching candidate, with his developmental experience (AHL head coach from 2006 to 2008 and in 2016-17) and track record of pulling the most out of his teams (leading the Blues, in last place at midseason, to the Cup in 2019).

Gerard Gallant

Speaking of pulling the most out of players, is there any better example of that than Gallant leading the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final?

A ferocious competitor in his playing days, Gallant brought that same intensity behind the bench in four NHL stops with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers (2016 Jack Adams winner), Golden Knights (2018 Jack Adams winner) and New York Rangers (2022 Eastern Conference Finals appearance). He also was head coach of the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs from 2009 to 2012, helping Jonathan Huberdeau reach stardom.

Gallant probably is too decorated to consider the rebuilding Sharks, but he was passed over for head-coaching vacancies last summer, so he could be itching for a new NHL home.

Todd McLellan

Sharks fans, of course, are very familiar with McLellan, who helmed San Jose to much success from 2008 to 2015. That was his first NHL head-coaching job, and he hasn't been without one for long since then.

Right after the Sharks let McLellan go, the Edmonton Oilers hired him in 2015. After the Oilers fired him midseason in 2018, the Kings tapped him to take over the next season.

Let go midseason by LA, McLellan still figures to be one of the more desirable veteran head-coaching options, perhaps not a great fit for a rebuilding team such as the Sharks. That said, McLellan did help turn the rebuilding Kings into a perennial playoff team.

David Carle

The brother of ex-Sharks defenseman Matt Carle has made a name for himself as the University of Denver head coach, winning three national championships, the first as Jim Montgomery's assistant in 2017 and the next two as the main man in 2022 and 2024.

But Carle has zero pro hockey playing or coaching experience, not even as an assistant. Can Carle go straight from the NCAA and command respect on an NHL team?

Joel Ward

Another Sharks fan favorite, Ward has accumulated coaching experience in the Golden Knights organization since he retired as a player in 2018, first as a Henderson Silver Knights assistant from 2020 to 2023 and then an NHL assistant coach this season.

However, Ward might not have enough head-coaching and developmental experience to be considered a favorite for the Sharks' top job.

Jay Woodcroft

Woodcroft was a McLellan assistant in San Jose from 2008 to 2015. He also was head coach for the AHL's Bakersfield Condors from 2018 to 2022, before he ascended to Edmonton Oilers bench boss and took them to the Western Conference finals in 2023.

While Woodcroft isn't as experienced as Berube, Gallant or McLellan, he'll likely be up for a more competitive situation than what the Sharks could offer this summer.

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