A little over a week ago, Dark Blue Jacket challenged the Blue Jackets blogosphere to really dig into the candidates for the head coaching position. With DBJ himself already taking a look at Hamilton's Guy Boucher, I started sending out feelers for into on the other three candidates, with varying degrees of success. Fortunately, others have also taken up the gauntlet.
In my case, though, I finally struck a bit of gold recently in talking to some Mainers up there in Portland about Kevin Dineen, the man pushed as the favored candidate by the Columbus Dispatch and many of the mainstream hockey media. Though many are pushing Dineen because of his gritty play on the ice and a warm, fuzzy feeling towards the inaugural Blue Jackets, I'm hoping I can help shed a little more light on Kevin Dineen the coach. Hopefully this, combined with more efforts from other Jackets bloggers (like the one DBJ posted as I was working on this) will help Columbus get a little more informed on the man they call....Dino.
In trying to learn more about Coach Dineen, I found two excellent resources: Chris Roy, of the Maine Hockey Journal, and Dan Hickling, Portland Pirates beat writer for the York County Journal Tribune. I'd like to thank both of them for their help and their insights in putting this article together.
I asked each for their thoughts on Dineen, starting with the most basic: "What kind of a coach is he?"
Dino isn't what I would consider a nuts and bolts type of coach - If I had to put a style to his game, he coaches much like Randy Carlyle in Anaheim: Goalie, Big D with top-6, lunch pail line, and then toughness line. He's a motivator who gets the most out of his players..but he can wear a player out to the point they stop listening. That said, he's got players that will give their life for him so it really comes back to the player.
His way with his players is unlike any other I've seen from an AHL coach in the 17 years I've spent covering that league ... Somehow, he is able to get his players to play the game the way he played it (completely sold out to the process) ... his teams for five years (with two different organizations) have a common thread, they compete hard all the time, the skill players as well as the pluggers, and guys show noticeable improvement as time moves on.That's why pluggers such as Ryan Carter, Andrew Ebbett, and Tim Kennedy can find their way to the NHL and enjoy success ... you expect guys like Bobby Ryan, Tyler Ennis, Ryan Getzlaf to get there, but he has a way of getting the journeymen around them to play above their heads, which in turn gives the bluechippers someone to play with, and better hones their skills ... players love playing for him (you can ask them, as we have) ... I don't think it would be any different for him if he was behind an NHL bench ...
Behind the bench, he'll yell and scream on the bench at times, to his players, and to officials on the ice. He has a history of going overboard. He's thrown water bottles at officials, clipboards and most recently he was suspended for a game because he went ballistic after a goal -- which was a goal -- was disallowed.
Another area I was curious about was how Dineen worked in the community - as head coach of the Jackets, Dineen would likely be asked to get involved with the Blue Jackets Foundation and its' many programs around Columbus to promote charities and community service.
In the community, he's become something of an icon, if for no other reason than because he's been here for five years, but the big thing is that he and his family have embraced the Portland area, and make no secret of that. It's also the reason why he can be very choosey about what NHL job he takes - if there is any such thing as job security in the AHL, he has it.
Dineen is wonderful in the community... He's very involved especially in the town that he currently lives in here in Maine. His kids are active and his wife is active. He can be seen playing in certain charity golf games, or taking part in other events.
From a media standpoint... I'm not convinced that he's ready to make the jump. That's my opinion based on working with him for the last five years. He's rough when it comes to dealing with the media and he can be very passive as you can see with him avoiding the media during the interview process.At the end of the day, I think the job is his, but I would caution people with their expectations - it will be a learning process with both the team and Dineen.
With Scott Howson announcing that the coaching search will be settled in the next 7-10 days, before the NHL draft, the question of who will step behind the bench will be answered sooner than later. If it is to be Dineen, it's likely to be quite a ride for the Blue Jackets and their fans.
My thanks again to Chris and Dan for their input - I hope that if I haven't answered all the questions from those looking to learn more about Kevin Dineen, I've at least helped create some new questions. As the coaching search comes to a close, please keep coming back to The Cannon, where we'll be discussing the news as it breaks!