April 30, 2010

Dineen gets NHL interview

Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen is a candidate to become coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Columbus Blue Jackets will interview Portland Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen for their vacant head coaching position.

Kevin Dineen

NHL TEAMS IN NEED OF A HEAD COACH

Atlanta Thrashers

Columbus Blue Jackets

New Jersey Devils

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the Blue Jackets had received permission from the Buffalo Sabres, the Pirates' NHL parent, to talk to Dineen.

"That's an accurate report, and, you know, that's where we're at right now," said Dineen.

Dineen declined to say when he would be interviewed.

"I can sit here and get into that game of making comments, but it doesn't do anything to change the process," he said. "That's actually what it is. It's just a process, and I'm working through it."

Earlier this week, the Blue Jackets said they had begun the search to find a replacement for Ken Hitchcock, who was fired at the end of the regular season.

"We're not going to comment on the process," said Columbus Blue Jackets spokesman Todd Sharrock. "I know Scott Howson, our general manager, has said he would anticipate a decision being made on a coach most likely in mid-to-late May.

"Beyond that, we're not going to comment on who the candidates are we're interviewing, when we're interviewing them or any of that until the whole process is complete."

Dineen, 46, is still under contract to the Sabres, who would neither confirm nor deny they had given the Blue Jackets permission to talk to him.

"It is not the team's policy to comment on issues such as this," said Sabres spokesman Mike Gilbert.

Buffalo announced Thursday that it had picked up the option on Coach Lindy Ruff's contract, extending his tenure through the 2010-11 season.

The Pirates also declined to comment about Dineen's pending interview in Ohio.

"My first obligation is to respect the policy of the Sabres in terms of personnel matters, and I certainly wouldn't want to run adrift of that," Portland managing owner Brian Petrovek said.

Dineen just finished his fifth season as coach of the Pirates. During his tenure, Portland has compiled a 219-107-16-23 record for a .610 winning percentage, the best coaching record in franchise history.

The Pirates have qualified for the playoffs in four of Dineen's five seasons, going 23-23 in the postseason.

"With what he has delivered in terms of his on-ice product, his community presence, his sincerity, his integrity, this guy's the real deal," Petrovek said. "He's just done an unbelievable job.

"Every day he's been here has been an unbelievably good day for us.

"He has that kind of an impact on our franchise, on our players and on everybody who meets him."

Dineen, a veteran of 18 NHL seasons, spent four years with the Blue Jackets. He retired as a player in 2002, a month into his third season with Columbus, then worked in player development through the 2003-04 season.

The Blue Jackets may not be the only NHL team interested in hiring Dineen.

The Atlanta Thrashers, New Jersey Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning also have head coaching vacancies. None of those teams would discuss possible candidates to fill those positions when contacted Thursday.

Rob Tillotson, a spokesman for the Atlanta Thrashers, said the team had no comment about its effort to find a successor to John Anderson, who was fired at the end of the regular season.

Mike Levine, a spokesman for the New Jersey Devils, said the team hasn't started its search to replace Jacques Lemaire. Lemaire retired Monday after the Devils were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Philadelphia Flyers.

In Tampa Bay, the search to replace Rich Tocchet is complicated by the fact that Jeff Vinik, a Boston investment banker who bought the Lightning during the season, must also hire a chief executive officer and a general manager.

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

 

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