In an era where coaches in the NHL get fired as easily and frequently as stepping on an ant farm, I had a feeling that this season might be different. As I was analyzing the NHL coaches roster, I felt that management would exercise more patience this year. I was surprised to learn of Scott Gordon’s firing. Injuries to key players on a team with already very little talent and depth, can be very devastating. In this case, the coach suffered the consequences. For one thing, most teams are very budget conscious. Coaches make more money now and firing a coach means breaking the budget. But beyond the economics, there are circumstances very specific to this season that should allow more time for many NHL coaches this season.
Several coaches are still “HONEYMOONERS” with their respective team. They are the ones who were recently hired. They will benefit from an evaluation time from their new boss.
There are coaches who are entrenched strongly IN CEMENT with their organization and it would take a total disaster for management to even contemplate a firing . . . at least this season.
Other NHL coaches are “ON THE ROPE”. The length of the rope will depend on performance. Management is keeping a close eye to see if the message is still getting through. Some of these coaches have the benefit of a “long rope”, either because of their past record or their relationship with management.
Finally, there are coaches who are “ON THE ROCKS”. One coach is on the hot seat right now. Things better improve in New Jersey or John MacLean’s tenure has their head coach will have been short lived.
Here is my list of coaches in 4 different groups: HONEYMOONERS, IN CEMENT, ON THE ROPE and ON THE ROCKS.
Craig Ramsay-Atl, Joe Sacco-Col, Scott Arniel-Clb, Tom Renney-Edm, Peter Laviolette-Phi, Davis Payne-Stl,Guy Boucher-Tbl
Lindy Ruff-Buf, Paul Maurice-Car, Joel Quenneville-Chi, Mike Babcock-Det, Peter Deboer-Fla, Terry Murray-Lak,
Jacques Martin-mtl, Dave Tippett-Dal, Dan Bylsma-Pit, Ron Wilson-Tor, Bruce Boudreau-Was
ON THE ROPE
Randy Carlyle-Ana, Claude Julien-Bos, Brent Sutter-Clg, Marc Crawford-Dal, Barry Trotz-Nsh, Cory Clouston-Ott,
Alain Vigneault-Van, John Tortorella-Nyr, Todd Richards-Min, Todd McLellan-Sjs
ON THE ROCKS
John MacLean Njd
I’ve been on teams when coaches were fired. One of the most celebrated and surprising was the firing of Al MacNeil in Montreal after he led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1971. Al had some veterans on the team who didn’t support his philosophies and he was replaced by Scotty Bowman for the next season even after he won the Cup.
The mood in the dressing room after a coach gets fired goes from deception to hope and then to adjustment. Players move on very quickly. They’re so focused on their own play, on their own career and on the team that they must go on. Players get new opportunities. Those who were in the “dog house” with the former coach want to redeem themselves and gain the new coach’s confidence. The players who were in the coach’s favor must find ways to keep their position. It often produces a short term resurgence of energy but in most cases, the cream comes to the top and the best players are the ones who move the team. The coach who can push the right buttons to get the top players to perform and support him normally gets the most success.
HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!