Maine Hockey Journal

Dineen mum on Blue Jackets interview

As was reported yesterday, the Columbus Blue Jackets have received permission from the Buffalo Sabres to speak with Portland Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen about their head coaching vacancy.

Until yesterday, Dineen had refused comment on the situation, but did acknowledge he was going to interview for the position, however, that was as far as he was prepared to go.

“That’s an accurate report, and, you know, that’s where we’re at right now,” Dineen told the Portland Press Herald.

“I can sit here and get into that game of making comments, but it doesn’t do anything to change the process,” Dineen added. “That’s actually what it is. It’s just a process, and I’m working through it.”

Dineen has interviewed for NHL positions in the past, but cited family reasons for turning the jobs down.

Dineen is married (Anne) with four children (Hanna, Emma, Declan and William).

Dineen just completed his fifth season with the Pirates, going 219-131-23-27 with a .610 win percentage, an all-time best among Pirates coaches.

Even if Dineen doesn’t accept the Blue Jackets job, there are other teams who may be willing to interview him for their head coaching openings.

Tampa Bay, New Jersey and Atlanta are all in the market for a head coach.

In Tampa Bay’s situation before they can hire a head coach, they need to hire a CEO and General Manager. According to, Dave Nonis, Steve Yzerman and Doug Risebrough are potential candidates for GM.

New Jersey hasn’t begun their search for head coach yet, but John MacLean, who was an assistant coach for the Devils for six years, before becoming the head coach of the Devils AHL team in Lowell last season, is considered a viable candidates as well as former Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock.

Atlanta could be going in a different direction after relieving John Anderson of his head coaching duties at the end of the regular season. Rick Dudley took over the GM duties from Don Waddell, who was promoted to team president and it’s believed that Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti is the leading candidate for that position, but isn’t available because the Blackhawks are still in the playoffs.

If Dineen does decide to move on, there are several potential candidates for Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier to consider for the Pirates head coach job.

Current Pirates assistant coach Eric Weinrich would receive some interest in the position. Weinrich has been an assistant coach for the Pirates for the last two years.

Another potential candidate for the position is Randy Cunneyworth, who spent seven years as the head coach for the Sabres’ AHL team in Rochester, NY before taking an assistant head coaching job with the Atlanta Thrashers. He was relieved of his duties the same time as Anderson was fired from the Thrashers.
Regier wouldn’t comment on Cunneyworth’s status.

“I’m not aware of his (contract) status so I can’t comment on that at this time,” Regier said during Game 4 of the Pirates first round series against Manchester.

Other potential candidates, who might on the radar, are former Pirates Kevin Kaminski Todd Nelson and Jason Christie.

Kaminski has been a head coach for the last eight years with Mississippi (CHL), Youngstown (CHL), Missouri (UHL) and Long Beach (ECHL).

Since 2000, Christie has spent time as a head coach with the Peoria (ECHL), Utah (ECHL) before taking an assistant head coaching job with Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He was relieved of those duties early this season.

Nelson, who was also part of the dismissal by Thrashers, spent several years as an assistant and head coach, winning back-to-back championship in 2003-04 and 2004-05 with now defunct Muskegon Fury of the UHL.

Columbus has indicated that it would like to a have new head coach by mid-to-late May.

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