A month after opening the coaching position, Spokane Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz has spent more time talking to people who won’t replace Hardy Sauter than those that could.
“We probably have more than 50 (applicants),” Speltz said Friday, exactly a month after the team elected not to pick up the third-year option on Sauter’s contract. “I try to make contact with every guy that took time to send in a resume or apply. I try to touch base with every guy. Out of those guys, I would say 10, 15 percent are valid candidates.”
Sauter was let go a month after the Chiefs were eliminated in the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs, a disappointing seven-game series with Portland that saw the visiting team win every game.
“I can’t say we’re close,” Spletz said of the search. “I’ve talked to a number of guys. I think we’ve done a good job of identifying who our candidates could be and who they’re not.”
With Edmonton and Kootenay both looking for coaches, Speltz declined to identify anyone on his radar but said he hoped to fill the position by month’s end.
“I’ve tried to find out what guys are doing and where guys are at,” he said. “We have some guys from pro that have expressed interest, are available, but their names are in line for assistant coaching positions in the National League, head coaches in the American League.
“They’re very qualified candidates with good credentials. The problem you have with those guys is I suspect they could get jobs. You’ve got a series of valid candidates who are not going to be coaching the Chiefs because they’re probably going to get opportunities at higher levels.”
The Chiefs were 91-45-1-5 under Sauter, who as an assistant when Spokane won the Memorial Cup in 2008.