NHL teams went nearly 30 years without hiring a head coach directly from college hockey.
That ended in 2015, when the Philadelphia Flyers hired Dave Hakstol away from UND.
In the last four offseasons, three college coaches have made that jump: Hakstol, Denver's Jim Montgomery to the Dallas Stars and Boston University's David Quinn to the New York Rangers.
Could Scott Sandelin, the former UND defenseman and assistant coach and back-to-back national champion head coach at Minnesota Duluth, be next?
Respected NHL scribe Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reported that Sandelin will interview with the Anaheim Ducks this week.
Hearing that the Anaheim Ducks will interview Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin this week as their search process continues..— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 2, 2019
It's certainly no slam dunk. TSN has reported that at least four others are in the mix: Dallas Stars assistants Rick Bowness and Todd Nelson, New York Islanders associate coach Lane Lambert and the head coach of Anaheim's American Hockey League affiliate, Dallas Eakins.
Hakstol's jump to the NHL has seemingly kicked open the door for college coaches to make the move.
In addition to Montgomery and Quinn following his path, NHL teams have kicked the tires on at least one other college coach this offseason. TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that the Ottawa Senators interviewed Providence head coach Nate Leaman. The Senators ended up hiring D.J. Smith.
OTT has asked for (and received) permission from DAL to interview Stars’ assistant coach Rick Bowness. Bowness will be the sixth candidate interviewed by Ottawa. Others include Marc Crawford, Troy Mann, Jacques Martin, D.J. Smith and Nate Leaman.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 12, 2019
Sandelin has been at Minnesota Duluth for the past 19 seasons, posting a record of 369-311-87 (.538). He has led the Bulldogs to NCAA national championships in 2011, 2018 and 2019.
College hockey to NHL head coaches
1970 -- Ned Harkness, Cornell to Detroit Red Wings
1982 -- Bob Johnson, Wisconsin to Calgary Flames
1987 -- Herb Brooks, St. Cloud State to Minnesota North Stars**
2015 -- Dave Hakstol, North Dakota to Philadelphia Flyers
2018 -- Jim Montgomery, Denver to Dallas Stars
2018 -- David Quinn, Boston University to New York Rangers
** Had previously served as an NHL head coach
NHL Combine comes to an end
The NHL Combine, held in Buffalo's KeyBank Center and HarborCenter, has come to an end.
Four UND recruits -- forward Judd Caulfield, forward Shane Pinto, forward Harrison Blaisdell and goaltender Cameron Rowe -- were among the 104 invitees at the event, which includes both interviews with NHL teams as well as off-ice physical testing.
Caulfield, Pinto, Blaisdell and Rowe head up a robust draft class for UND, which has nine contenders to be picked.
The other, late-round candidates are sophomore-to-be goalie Adam Scheel and four recruits -- defenseman Cooper Moore, defenseman Luke Bast, forward Massimo Rizzo and defenseman Ethan Frisch.
UND has only had more than seven players picked in a single draft one time in program history.
The NHL Draft is scheduled for June 21-22 in Vancouver.