Good Sign NHL is Back: Coaches And GMs Playing Musical Chairs

From this year long lockout we have seen most if not all teams layoff team employees and place hiring freezes until the new CBA is settled. But in the past little while we have seen some movement that is a good sign that teams are readying themselves for the upcoming season.

In Anaheim – New Ownership bought the team from Disney and promptly hired former Canucks GM Brian Burke to build the Ducks back up. He will have much work to do integrating rookies and getting rid of overpriced stars. But his most important job will be to hire a new coach. The Ducks let go of Mike Bab***** offering him a paltry 1 year deal. The leading candidates are Mike Johnson who is currently working in Vancouver as an assistant and John Stevens who led the Phantoms to the AHL championships. Stevens would be a solid choice as he is good working with youngsters and he has won. Johnson of course is familiar with Burke and vice versa which makes sense why he is a candidate.

In Chicago – Bob Pulford stepped down for the 100th time as GM of the Hawks and named Dale Tallon as the teams new GM. And Tallon wasted no time making an impact firing Brian Sutter and naming Trent Yawney the new head coach. Yawney knows several of the kids that should be on the Hawks roster next season having coached them at Norfolk and should continue helping with their development. With former Hawks Bruce Cassidy and Denis Savard as assistants, the Hawks should have a very solid staff.

Colorado – Though it happened before the lockout, the appointment of Joel Queneville is not forgotten. Coach Q was one of the better coaches on the market and it was yet another smart move by Pierre Lacroix to add such a quality coach. What kind of team Coach Q has remains to be seen as the Avs have some significant cap problems.

In Detroit – Hockeytown is going to see some changes. After years of having guys like Dave Lewis and Barry Smith behind the bench, the Wings are turning a new chapter and bringing in fresh blood behind the bench. In all likelihood Mike Bab***** from Anaheim will be named the new coach. The Wings have lacked a taskmaster since Scott Bowman left and Bab***** brings that kind of attitude that will push teh players to take it to the next level. Lewis was just too nice a guy to be a head coach. He should find a job as a top assistant somewhere.

Florida – Changes swept through the Keys like Hurricane Dennis. The Cats made the biggest splash prior to the lockout hiring Iron Mike Keenan as GM and Jacques Martin as coach. These two will no doubt find a way to turn the fortunes around for the Panthers. Martin did a great job helping the Sens become the top team they are and really helping out the development of their key stars like Havlat, Hossa and Chara from when they were kids to now seasoned veterans. The Cats hope he does the same with guys like Weiss, Bouwmeester and HOrton.

New Jersey – The Devils have not made any changes but may have to due to the health concerns for coach Pat Burns. All I will say is get well Pat!

NY Rangers – Tom Renney is their coach…..for now. but we have seen what happens in New York. The Rangers have not had a solid coach since Colin Campbell was behind the bench. Trottier, Sather, Low just couldnt get the job done. Renney is good as a development coach and was really the safe choice without that many quality coaches around. And to think they had John Torterella at one time.

And Slats is safe as GM…..for now. If his rebuilding project goes poorly, the Blueshirts will look to upgrade their front office.

Ottawa – Martin out, Murray in. A change that was overdue, not because Martin did a bad job. In fact he did a great job and doesnt get the kind of credit he deserves for player development. All people look at is the end results which were losses to the Leafs. Thinks were getting stale for the Sens and Martin so a change was needed. But is Murray and upgrade? He too has suffered numerous defeats as a coach despite a solid record behind the bench. He hasnt won either but will give the Sens a different look and a fresh approach that this team may have needed.

Pheonix – Now what will the desert dogs do? The huge rumour is 99 being behind the bench with Rick Tocchet as his right hand man. I think it would be great to see the Great One back in the thick of things. The Yotes have a very solid team and the talent to play an offensive style that Gretz will likely implement. Anyone they hire will be better than keeping Rick BOwness as coach. It would be great for hockey to see Gretzky around in the thick of all the action rather than in the press box. Naturally people will doubt 99 due to his inexperience but as we have all learned, dont bet against him or you’ll get burned.

In Vancouver – The Canucks also have some new ownership joining the existing group and they have left new GM Dave Nonis with a mess. He has to deal with the Bertuzzi fallout, resign Naslund as well as a boatload of other players and improve a Canucks team that is slowly falling behind the Flames in terms of best in Western Canada. I am sure Nonis appreciates it.

The rest of the league has stood pat. speaking of Pat, Pat Quinn was brought back to coach the Leafs and Paul Maurice was brought in to coach the Leafs farm team. Possibly he is there to be groomed as Quinn’s successor. Either way, the Leafs are in good hands in terms of head coaching. Good job JFJ, but for the love of god, please replace Rick Ley!!!

Well here is the list of the other teams in case you have forgotten:

Atlanta- Don Waddell and Bob Hartley

Washington – George McPhee, Glen Hanlon

Carolina -Jim Rutherford, Peter Laviolette

Tampa – Jay Feaster, John Torterella

Boston- Mike O’Connell, Mike Sullivan

Montreal – Bob Gainey, Claude Julien

Buffalo – Darcy Reiger, Lindy Ruff

NY Islanders – Mike Milbury, Steve STirling

Philly – Bob Clarke, Ken Hitch*****

Pittsburgh – Craig Patrick, Ed Olczyk

Columbus – Doug MacLean, Gerard Gallant

St Louis – Larry Pleau, Mike Kitchen

Nashville – Dave POile, Barry Trotz

San Jose – Doug Wilson, Ron Wilson

LA – Dave Taylor, Andy Murray

Dallas – Doug Armstrong, Dave Tippett

Edmonton – Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish

Calgary – Darryl Sutter

Minnesota – Doug Risebrough, Jacques Lemaire

But really, this list is changing daily. Coaches are never safe, and with this new CBA, GMs have an idiot proof system to work with and if they are still making mistakes….well then they deserve to be unemployed. But my biggest worry is that they guys will band together and bring back obstruction as they are usually the biggest complainers when it comes to penalties and more penalties. but that is another story…