ESTERO — The Florida Everblades’ head coaching position will not remain vacant for much longer.
Team president and general manager Craig Brush said the team expects to announce their chosen candidate early next week.
“I received over 50 resumes,” Brush said. “They were all over the map. They were from people who had modest backgrounds in pro hockey to NHL assistant coaches.”
The Blades began their hunt for a new man behind the bench on May 26 when Greg Poss, who led the team for six seasons, accepted the head coach job for EC Red Bull Salzburg.
Brush narrowed down the candidate list, conducting phone interviews with over a dozen applicants and personally interviewing five suitors. Throughout these meetings, Brush analyzed the candidates’ likelihood to reach the standards that the position demands.
“It has to be somebody who you enjoy working with,” Brush said. “Secondly, the experience and success that they’ve had (is important.) The wild card is that we want someone who can take us deep into the playoffs every year. The art of the selection is trying to determine which person that is.”
Of the five face-to-face interviews Brush conducted, he only disclosed one name — current Blades assistant coach Tad O’Had.
“He’s obviously very familiar with our situation here, and he is a hardworking guy,” Brush said. “He wants to be a career coach, and over the three years he’s been working with us, you won’t find anyone who has been more dedicated to the role he’s had. Those reasons alone make him a strong candidate.”
Florida is one of five ECHL teams on the hunt for a new coach during the offseason, and it is currently balancing its coaching search with player recruitment.
“I don’t think it has affected us at all,” Brush said. “Tad O’Had has been very, very helpful in this process. We are certainly glad to have him on this staff because he’s done a lot of the leg work, and I’ve pitched in a bit myself. We’ve done what we would have done if we would have had a coach in place with players we put on our protected list and with signings that will come out in the next few days.”
ECHL teams were required to make qualifying offers for up to eight players by June 30, and the bids will remain open until Aug. 1.
The Blades sent qualifying offers to Gabriel Desjardins, Brant Harris, Brendan O’Donnell, Ralph Cuddemi, Greg Gibson, Ethan Werek, David Wohlberg and Mike Cornell.
None of the eight players have yet to agree to terms with Florida, and Gibson instead opted to sign overseas in Germany with Starbulls Rosenheim.