Wild candidate MacTavish talking to Winnipeg, too

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 16, 2011 - 11:13 AM

The apparent frontrunner to take over behind the Wild bench could force a change in GM Chuck Fletcher's plans.

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Craig MacTavish

With the search for Todd Richards' replacement nearing a conclusion, a decision may have been slowed Wednesday when the coach considered the frontrunner for the job agreed to an interview with Winnipeg.

Craig MacTavish, whom the Star Tribune reported Monday visited Minnesota last week to meet for a second time with the Wild general manager and tour Xcel Energy Center, was to be interviewed by Winnipeg General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff either Wednesday night or Thursday.

MacTavish spent eight years behind the Edmonton Oilers' bench and coached the Oilers to the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. He also won four Stanley Cups as a player. He has been considered the leading candidate to replace Richards, who was fired in April.

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher declined to comment about MacTavish's meeting with Winnipeg, but MacTavish still appears to be the man the Wild's eyeing.

"I'm getting a lot closer, for sure, [to a hire]," Fletcher said. "I'm much, much closer to the end."

With the NHL entry draft in St. Paul on June 24-25 and the NHL readying to take over the arena Monday, the Wild was hoping to have a coach in place by Thursday or Friday.

The Wild also appears to be strongly considering Houston Aeros coach Mike Yeo and longtime NHL coach Ken Hitchcock.

During Yeo's first year behind the bench, the 37-year-old coached the Wild's American Hockey League affiliate to the Calder Cup Finals.

Hitchcock, 59, is a veteran of 15 years behind the bench of Dallas, Philadelphia and Columbus. His longtime assistant in Dallas, Rick Wilson, has another year on his contract with the Wild.

In Winnipeg, Claude Noel, Craig Ramsay and Kirk Muller are also candidates to become the first coach of the new Winnipeg franchise.

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