Note: This is obviously completely satirical, and spoilers are kept to a minimum. Still, reader discretion advised. 

While Kirk Muller was out of a job for only eight days, the Carolina Hurricanes’ search for his replacement has entered its sixth week, and Ron Francis seems no closer to naming a replacement than he was on the day Muller was canned. This is to be expected, of course. Francis is weighing all opportunities and confirmed interviews have ranged from veteran Jacques Martin to Todd Nelson, who, like Muller, has no NHL head coaching experience.

While Francis continues to interview everyone under the sun, there are plenty of viable candidates that may have flown under the radar.

Jon Snow

“Have you ever seen a giant, Ser Eric? I have.” – Jon Snow referring to Zdeno Chara.

One thing Francis has repeatedly stressed is his desire for someone who can share his extensive knowledge with others the players.

“The biggest thing I’m looking for is a guy who’s a teacher,” he said. “In today’s game you have to be able to communicate extremely well. You have to have strong leadership qualities. You have to able to manage people and the different personalities in that locker room.”

Though the last young hire made by the franchise didn’t exactly pan out — Paul Maurice made the playoffs just four times in more than 11 seasons behind the Carolina/Hartford bench — Snow is even younger. But he does know some things. With him, he brings a wealth of experience for someone his age. Early on in his career, he taught the finer points of his trade to his half-siblings, developing strong relationships with the two youngest, who have gone on to become two of the more underrated players of the game in the country.

Where Snow really shines is in outnumbered situations. Despite long odds, he’s successfully held back a number of potent attacks by the opposition. It’s hard to say whether Carolina’s lack of special teams can be attributed to the players or staff, but they’ve been abysmal for years. A coach who specializes on the kill could correct years of frustration.

From innocent greenhorns to hardened veterans, Snow has worked with all sorts of personalities and experience in his years on the job. He’s united them all — if only for a time — and should certainly get along with the extremely diverse Carolina locker room, helping them better handle adversity.

“There is no shame in fear [of losing], my father told me,” Snow said. “What matters is how we face it.”

Gus Fring

“A man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man.” – Gus Fring on the difficulties of coaching through hardships.

Should Francis decide to go for someone older and more experienced, Fring is an obvious candidate. His legacy is unmatched by any other, and he helped turn a struggling franchise into one of the biggest markets in the country.

Fring demands accountability from his subordinates and has little patience for mistakes, of which there were plenty this past year. He prides himself on being careful, so the inexcusable 734 turnovers committed by Carolina (10th most in the NHL) would likely fall.

“They still have to be accountable for their actions and how they played,” Francis said. “There has to be a lot of responsibility on their shoulders to turn this thing around.”

Though Fring is used to working with bigger budgets and bringing in his own people, it seems unlikely that Francis would yield a share of his responsibilities so soon after receiving them himself. If Fring can learn to work and trust the group given to him, opponents should tread lightly.

Stringer Bell

“You gotta think about what we got in this game for. Huh? Was it the rep? Was it so our names could ring out on some streetcorner? Nah. There’s games beyond the game.” – Stringer Bell on the NHL media circus.

Though Bell may have a reputation for being difficult to deal with, so does Darryl Sutter, and he’s set to bring the second Stanley Cup to Los Angeles in three seasons. And like Sutter, Bell is as smart as they come. Both dive deep into the numbers, and Carolina has become more and more open in discussing their use of analytics.

“There are a bunch of different balances and checks that we consider when we try to put things together to make sure we’re doing things right,” Francis said.

Bell is used to such a system, but still does things his own way. In the game of chess, he is the “go get stuff done” piece, and many times, that involves stepping on a few toes.

His success wouldn’t have happened without his associate, though the two ended on sour terms, so it’s likely Bell would have to find a new set of assistants. Given his personality and his penchant for running through them at a high rate, that could prove to be a challenge.

Shane Walsh

“You can’t just be the good guy and expect to succeed. Not anymore.” – Shane Walsh on not being a player’s coach.

While he’s been (mostly) underground the last few years, Walsh might be one of the most unconventional choices on the list. He certainly doesn’t fit Francis’ profile, and would be unlike the last few Carolina hires in Muller and Maurice. Walsh may come across as cold and uncaring, but he’s a strong leader who’s willing to take calculated risks to succeed at any cost.

Sounds much like Peter Laviolette, who helped etch “Carolina Hurricanes” onto the Stanley Cup for the first time.

Though Walsh quickly become unpopular in his last stop, eventually being forced out, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a second chance. In fact, more than a few coaches don’t succeed in their first NHL opportunity. Many believe Muller himself will one day make a great coach, but he still has to iron out the kinks, and Walsh has more than a few of his own wounds to heal.

There’s a fine line between being a player’s coach, and losing the locker room. If Walsh can walk it as Laviolette once did, his resurrection could be intriguing.

Francis Underwood

“The only thing more satisfying than convincing someone to do what I want, is failing to persuade them on purpose. It’s like a “do not enter” sign, it just begs you to walk though the door.” – Francis Underwood on his unorthodox style.

Something that’s plagued the Hurricanes for years has been the accusation of nepotism. When a beloved player retires, there’s always a job waiting for him in the front office. But if Francis hires Francis, the only connection is the name.

Underwood is the only candidate on the list who would have to be waited on, which Francis has shown to be willing to do. Would he be worth it? Underwood isn’t a Francis type of coach, but his success is undeniable. He has an uncanny ability to get people to do as he pleases — though what many would call manipulation, he calls motivation — and igniting the Staals would come naturally to him.

“A little sibling rivalry isn’t such a bad thing,” Underwood said. “They either push each other to be the best versions of themselves, or one of them gets booted.”

His only failing has been at the bottom of the food chain, where he’s seen a ton of turnover on his watch. But one thing’s for certain, he doesn’t mince words about it.

“I have no patience for useless things.”

Though it’s up to Francis to provide him with the necessary tools, Underwood would be a prime candidate to steer the organization in the right direction, and clean up the mess left by the previous administration.

About The Author

Andrew Luistro graduated from Appalachian State University. An avid sports fan, he began beat writing for the Sunbelt Hockey Journal, part of The Hockey Writers Network, with a focus on the Carolina Hurricanes. Andrew also actively follows the Boston Red Sox and Carolina Panthers, among other teams. Follow him on Twitter @ndrewL7