The wooing of Kevin McClelland begins in earnest today.
McClelland, who has emerged as the No. 1 target for Wichita Thunder general manager Joel Lomurno in his effort to fill the team's coaching vacancy, will be in town today through Sunday for a closer look at the franchise.
Landing McClelland, a former Central Hockey League coach of the year and a Stanley Cup champion as a player, would qualify as the Thunder's biggest move in years.
Still, Lomurno indicated that he doesn't necessarily need to give McClelland the hard sell.
Lomurno said that the team's stability, loyal fan base and new arena make the Thunder opening a "great job opportunity for a coach."
Even so, Lomurno said he has a full agenda for McClelland and his wife.
The group will take a tour of Intrust Bank Arena, meet sponsors, check out player apartments and, most importantly, talk hockey.
"I want to see what his expectations are, what kind of players he's got in mind, find out his philosophy on coaching, things like that," Lomurno said.
As Lomurno said earlier in the week, it is possible he could offer McClelland a contract this weekend.
"I would say the interest level for both parties is very high," Lomurno said. "It's certainly my intent to see what he's looking for and what we can agree on.
"Kevin is certainly the best candidate out there to coach this team. If you've got someone with his resume and his connections and his experience, you want to do everything in your power to make him your head coach."
McClelland, who has coached CHL teams to the playoffs for four straight seasons, said he has no specific expectations for his visit to Wichita. The Thunder job, he said, is the only one he is investigating.
"I'm just going to Wichita, you know, to look around, talk to Joel, and see what the possibilities are," he said. "We're going into it with an open mind."
On sale — The Thunder will sell team merchandise and used hockey equipment today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the team's office at Wichita Ice Center, 505 W. Maple.