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Russo's Rants

Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Boudreau expected to interview with Ottawa; Wild coaching update

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, who did his best to get in front of the Bruce Boudreau line of suitors, appears to be in waiting mode.

Boudreau, the former coach of the Anaheim Ducks, is expected to interview with the Ottawa Senators on Friday. The Senators have also interviewed several other strong candidates, including Mike Yeo twice, Randy Carlyle, Marc Crawford and Guy Boucher.

Just sayin', don't be shocked if Boudreau desires a chance to coach Ottawa over Minnesota. Besides the fact Boudreau is from Toronto, his mom lives in St. Catharines and he has a daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter who live ... in Ottawa.

This is why there was zero chance Fletcher could dissuade Boudreau from even interviewing in Ottawa.

This doesn't mean Boudreau is offered the Ottawa job. The Sens are well into their coaching search and owner Eugene Melnyk reportedly said the list should be down to a handful by the weekend.

But if Boudreau has the choice between the two jobs, the lure of being so close to family could sway him over simply money.

(If you missed it, Patrick Reusse wrote a nice feature on Boudreau today).

While Fletcher has contacted and talked with a number of potential coaching candidates, I have not been able to confirm that any interviews have been conducted or scheduled besides Boudreau, Randy Carlyle and John Torchetti.

That obviously could change, but it would not be shocking if he's in wait-and-see mode regarding Boudreau. As usual with something like this, there are a ton of moving parts.

I heard that Torchetti was supposed to meet with Fletcher again on Wednesday, but I'm not certain that conversation took place.

Two candidates out there that I hear Fletcher has talked with by phone are Crawford and Boucher.

Crawford, who ranks 18th in NHL history with 549 wins, coached the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup in 1996 (Uwe Krupp!) and spent the past four seasons in Switzerland. Crawford coached likely No. 1 pick Auston Matthews there, feels he has learned a ton overseas and is itching to get back into the NHL.

Boucher is also looking to return from Switzerland. He coached Tampa Bay for parts of three seasons, including to the Eastern Conference Final his first year.

I'd assume Fletcher has called Calgary for permission to talk with Bob Hartley, as well. Hartley coached Colorado to a Cup in 2001 and is 28th in NHL history with 463 wins.

Hartley wants to coach again and told Calgary reporters that he'll be respectful of the process. He's still under contract, so if Minnesota, Ottawa and/or Anaheim have interest, they must call for permission.

“Coaching is my passion and coaching is in my blood,” Hartley said. “I want to coach. I’m only 55 years old and I believe that I’m in great shape, I love the game and I love teaching and I love competing to win hockey games.”

Other folks out there with previous NHL head-coaching experience include John Stevens, Kevin Dineen, Kirk Muller and Brad Shaw. Muller and Shaw are currently assistant coaches with the St. Louis Blues, who are in the second round of the playoffs.

I know Fletcher has a great deal of respect for Anaheim assistant coach Paul MacLean, but he is a candidate to replace Boudreau in Anaheim.

There are names like Phil Housley, Luke Richardson and Travis Green out there, but after hiring first-time coaches in Todd Richards and Yeo, my guess is Fletcher is being instructed to go the experience route this time.

In the past couple days, I've talked to so many people, including some pals of the coaching candidates. Judging from the questions I'm getting, I do think there's questions among the candidates regarding Fletcher's contract status and how safe he is in the future and also the makeup of the locker room and team chemistry questions that became a topic during the second-half of the season.

So my guess is Fletcher is getting questioned by candidates, too.

Also, please check out my Twitter account at @russostrib or in the next hour. I recorded a podcast this morning with columnist Jim Souhan that is Wild and coaching search heavy.

Wild GM Fletcher travels to Southern California for coaching search

TSN's Darren Dreger reported via Twitter that he hears Wild GM Chuck Fletcher is in California today.

This jibes with what I was hearing yesterday, which is why I ended yesterday's John Torchetti/Bruce Boudreau blog with, Both Boudreau and [Randy] Carlyle live in southern California, so if Fletcher's planning a trip there, he could conceivably kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

I couldn't second source that the reason Fletcher met with Torchetti yesterday was because he planned to fly to California last night for "a couple days." As of now, I haven't confirmed Fletcher is in California, but like I said, what the always trustworthy Dreger reports jibes with what I heard yesterday.

I believe Boudreau is meeting with Fletcher today.

As I also have reported, Fletcher is interested in Randy Carlyle. He lives in southern California, too, so it would make sense that Fletcher meets with them both while in the O.C. the next few days.

Fletcher is usually patient and methodical. The fact he's being so aggressive here shows the urgency of the situation.

Boudreau is very likely at the top of his list. But Ottawa has also been granted permission to talk to Boudreau, and after today's news that Calgary has fired Bob Hartley, Calgary will surely seek permission, too.

So, suddenly, Boudreau's got a line of suitors.

It certainly sounds like Fletcher is putting on the hard sell. I'm sure he would love to wrap up this coaching search quickly. I'd guess though that Boudreau will want to meet with Ottawa and Calgary, so I'd suspect this search won't end imminently.

I'll update the blog later if there's a need or further confirmations of anything.

And, of course, Hartley is suddenly another name available if Fletcher wants to do his due diligence there.

Hartley, who won a Cup with Colorado, was 134-135-25 in four seasons with Calgary and won the Jack Adams last season as Coach of the Year. But the Flames came back to life this season in large part because of goalie issues.

But from everything I've been hearing before the Hartley news came down, Boudreau, Carlyle and Torchetti are the guys Fletcher is really focusing on. Fletcher does have interest in Anaheim assistant coach Paul MacLean, but from what I heard as of yesterday, it didn't sound like the Ducks granted Fletcher permission to talk with MacLean yet.

"Bob has taken this team as far as I feel he can take it," Flames GM Brad Treliving said of Hartley. "Each coach has their own style, their own way of doing things. Bob, to me, is able to get a lot out of players. But when you sit back and review and as I’ve gone through this process over the last few weeks, I felt for us to move forward as an organization that it was time, it was important and it was critical that we made this decision."