There Are Several NHL Coaches That Could Be Fired By The End Of This Season
In the world of sports, the firing of coaches and management staff when teams fail has become a standard. This is no different in the NHL where the firing of NHL coaches has become part of the norm when a team struggles.
Going into this season there are a couple of coaches that should have already been fired but for different reasons were kept around. It is for that reason that they stay on the “hot seat”. Following are the three coaches that could be the next to go in the NHL.
Michel Therrien, Montreal Canadiens
Therrien was shockingly declared safe at the end of a disastrous regular season by Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, Therrien shouldn’t get too comfortable about his long-term future in Montreal.
Feb 27, 2016; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien talks during a press conference after his team won against Toronto Maple Leafs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
The loss of Carey Price to injury for much of 2015-16 is a handy fallback for a team that completely went off the rails following a perfect 9-0-0 start, but that’s only part of the story in Montreal last season.
Not only did the Canadiens power play continue to struggle, but questions abounded in regards to Therrien’s deployment of defenseman P.K. Subban and forward Alex Galchenyuk, both of whom are key pieces of the puzzle for Therrien’s team.
If the Canadiens struggle out of the gate next season with a healthy Price, replacing the coach should be the first step towards righting the ship. If Therrien goes down GM Bergevin’s job might be safe, but if the team’s owner wasn’t fully onboard with the Subban trade, things could get really ugly north of the border.
Claude Julien, Boston Bruins
Nov 5, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien yells from the bench against the Washington Capitals in the first period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
While firing Claude Julien is not a smart move for the Boston Bruins, it might still happen if the team’s upper management uses him as a scapegoat. Team President Cam Neely and GM Don Sweeney have set this team up to fail after essentially having an annual Stanley Cup contender fall to mediocrity.
For fans following the team on a regular basis, they know that this is not the same team that made it to the Cup a couple of seasons ago. The team traded away Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton due to mismanagement of the cap.
Neely’s job has been safe due to a lack of ownership of the failures of the team. Julien’s failures are more on the lack of talent on the team than the performance he has done as a coach. If former GM Peter Chiarelli hadn’t mismanaged the team’s cap Bruins fans can only wonder if their team would have had another chance at a Cup.
The issue in firing Julien is that there really is no better replacement on the market. Also, he is still one of the better coaches in the NHL. If this year’s Boston Bruins team struggles, it will be Julien’s last year as the black and gold’s coach. As he will be used as the scapegoat to save Neely’s job.
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Alain Vigneault, New York Rangers
After his team’s poor showing in the playoffs against the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Rangers fans should be questioning both Vigneault’s systematic decisions and his lineup choices.
The team struggled to possess the puck in 2015-16, ranking 26th in Corsi for percentage, in part because of Vigneault’s choice to play Dan Girardi big minutes. Girardi ranked last out of all NHL defensemen with more than 500 minutes played in relative Corsi. But he still logged the third-most even-strength minutes on the team. It was also odd to see Kevin Hayes benched in the playoffs, while Tanner Glass received ice time.
This offseason, GM Jeff Gorton gave Vigneault more to work with, upgrading the forward group by signing Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey and free agent Brandon Pirri.
Vigneault has the talent to get into the playoffs and make noise. But this only happens as if Henrik Lundqvist plays like Henrik Lundqvist. If he doesn’t, the Rangers could be looking for a new coach for next season.
There are certainly other coaches that could be on this list, maybe John Tortorella because its Torts. Could be Jack Capuano of the Isles, Paul Maurice of the Jets, Todd McLellan of the Oilers, or Willie Desjardins of the dreadful Canucks. The bottom line is there is a laundry list of coaches that could be gone by the end of this season.
Julien, Therrien, and Vigneault could be the front-runners in the running to be fired by season’s end. But ultimately the decision to fire a head coach comes from the owner’s box.