Negative Nancy — Coaches on the go?
Excitement has stormed the NHL!
Free agents signings, new rule changes, a salary cap. So many diffrent and new ideas entering this league.
But why focus on the positive when one can just as easily focus on the negative.
That’s right, I’m talking about the annual predictions of which NHL coach will lose his job first.
Will it be Pat Quinn? Can he keep his new look leaf team afloat?
How about Eddie Olczyk? The Penguins are a revamped team, will their coach be up for the challenge?
Or maybe even Bryan Murray in Ottawa. As much as Jacques Martin failed he still succeeded during the regular season… mighty big shoes to fill.
Allow me to analyze and comment on all thirty NHL coaches this season, starting with the first 15 in alphabetical order.
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim: Randy Carlyle
Expectations were high after these Quackers made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2003. But they failed miserably the next year for a few reasons. (One being the loss of Paul Kariya and also the poor, inconsistant play of Giguere) Look for rookie coach Carlyle remain in place all year and with the addition of Neidermayer it can only help his cause. Also look for Giguere to take a hard hit considering the goaltenders equipment will be reduced in size. (No matter how you say that it sounds wrong).
Atlanta Thrashers: Bob Hartley
People have commended Bob Hartley ever since he has taken over this new Atlanta franchise. Not only has he improved the team, better players coming in should continue its success. Unless Hartley’s team takes a nose-dive out of the gate he is easily the head coach of this team for the rest of the year and for a few more years to come.
Boston Bruins: Mike Sullivan
An improved Bruins team equals a more disappointing playoff experience. Sullivan is easily on the hotseat this season, especially after a playoff disappointment two seasons ago where the much stronger Bruin team lost to the Canadiens after a 3-1 series lead. The success of the Bruins this season consists on two things: Andrew Raycroft’s softmore year and Mike Sullivan’s ability to coach in front of very skepital Bostonians.
Buffalo Sabres: Lindy Ruff
Lindy Ruff has easily overstayed his welcome in Buffalo. He was such a success in Buffalo over his first 5 seasons (32 playoff wins) that the “what have you done for me lately” theory really comes into play. Buffalo, again, looks like a non-contender for the playoffs and though Lindy Ruff isn’t to fully blame for this, he just may need to be canned to give the Sabres a new look behind the bench and a new style of play. Lindy Ruff is one of my canditates to be fired this season.
Calgary Flames: Darryl Sutter
How can you deny the success Darryl Sutter has had in Calgary? You can’t. He single-handedly created the team the Flames are today and the way they play on the ice really demonstrates how much they respect their coach. Though I personally do not think Calgary will be as success as they were two years ago I fully believe that even if they miss the playoffs Sutter is as safe as celery in Star Jones’ fridge. (Low…I know..)
Carolina Hurricanes: Peter Laviolette
Not even Scotty Bowman could help the Hurricanes team today. Laviolette really doesn’t have much to work with so a 25-win season really would be a success. Yes, they do have Cassels, Brind’amour, Whitney and now Tverdovsky. But in the ultra-competitive east, when playing Tampa and Florida (Luongo) 8 times each, these lowly Hurricanes really don’t stand much chance to succeed. Laviolette, however, will reprise the coaching duties for next season on the thought of future. It would be too premature to relieve him of his duties based on the state of Carolina as a whole.
Chicago Blackhawks: Trent Yawney
Yawney will be under extreme pressure this season considering the Hawks bulking up during the offseason. He isn’t new to the Blackhawk’s young players since he was the head coach for their affiliate AHL team. I personally cannot say much about his coaching style because I haven’t witnessed much from him. The Blackhawk fans, players, management and I am expecting a playoff team and a possible contender for a series win. Will Yawney provide the direction for this desperate hockey team? I hope so, but there will be critics at his throat when if his team chokes even the slightest to start off this season.
Colorado Avalanche: Joel Quenneville
In my opinion Joe Quenneville is going to be a keeper for the Avalanche. Even if they have lost great players like Forsberg and Foote they still have Sakic and Blake, not to mention Tanguay and Hejduk. Quenneville has dealt with the pressure to win before in St. Louis and has dealt with high profile players by the many also. (Pronger, Weight, Tkachuk). I am not expecting huge things from the Avalanche this season but I do see Quenneville guiding his team to solid numbers and a respectable playoff appearance. Enough to keep this coach in his place.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Gerard Gallant
Gerard Gallant is really only expected to coach this team to improvement. I’m sure the Blue Jackets would love to fight for a playoffs spot but I hardly expect it to come out into reality. Columbus is in a tough division with the always threatening Red Wings and then newly strong Blackhawks so even coming in third in the division would be a great accomplishment. Gallant should be relieved that he now has a great, strong blueliner in Adam Foote and then complimenting him with Bryan Berard. Then again can Nash repeat his 41 goal season, or will his garbage goal style suffer under the new way of the NHL. Expect the Jackets to improve under Gallant for a full year but I can’t imagine a playoff team in this.
Dallas Stars: Dave Tippett
Marty Turco. Those are the two words that will decide Tippett’s future. Turco is a great regular season preformer but he chokes like no other in the playoffs (see Colorado series, 2004). Dave Tippett will lead this team into the playoffs but the success really depends on Turco’s ability to excel under pressure.
Detroit Red Wings: Mike Bab*****
Year after year Detroit proves to be one of the superior teams in the Western Conference and this year should be no different. (Unless Holland fails to sign Datsyuk and Zetterberg) I can’t really expect Detriot to win the Cup but they should challenge and it does help that Bab***** is as experienced as he is at such a young age. Osgood should be a question mark but Manny Legace can cover at any time. Bab***** should coach this team through a round or two of the playoffs and should stay in Detroit for a few more years to come.
Edmonton Oilers: Craig MacTavish
Another coach that will be under the pressure of a newly strengthened team. With the addition of Peca and Pronger, MacTavish now has some real matured talent to work with but whether he can handle it and guide them is still to be seen. I’m expecting a solid year from the Oilers, one that will still consist of a chase of a playoff spot, but this time actually succeeding. This will be the make or break year for MacTavish, after being head coach for 5 years his team has to make a big splash in the playoffs.
Florida Panthers: Jacques Martin
The smartest moves made in the last two years were made by the Florida Panthers. Having Mike Keenan as GM and Martin as head coach. Keenan has always been a favourite of mine and he is incredibly hockey-smart. His signings of Roberts and Niewendyk prove that. Florida is such a young team with so much potential and who better to help than Jacques Martin, who helped players like Alfredson, Hossa, Chara, Redden and Spezza explode into great powers in the league. Having Roberts and Niewendyk as mentors can only improve the chances of a powerhouse of the future. I expect a strong push for the playoffs by the Panthers. Martin is here to stay.
Los Angeles Kings: Andy Murray
No matter how experienced a coach is it won’t matter if players are always injured. There is no other bad luck story like the LA Kings of the last few years. Injuries to Allison, Deadmarsh and Palffy smacked this team in the face and really prevented them for any success. Andy Murray now has Roenick, Demitra and Conroy at his disposal and hoping that these guys could help the team get back in place, into the playoffs. One major question mark is their goaltending with Garon. No matter what, we all should hope that the Kings can regain their form and stay healthy to compete in this new age NHL.
Minnesota Wild: Jacques Lemaire
Jacques Lemaire’s team will not work this year unless Lemaire changes his style of coaching. Lemaire has taken this team to the Western Conference finals but then failed to make the playoffs the next year. His team’s style will cause nothing but penalties and an attempt to salvage defensive game in this offensive NHL (I hope anyways). Also with the loss of Brunnette the Wild lose a solid scoring winger which is a rare treasure in Minnesota. With the pressure to win in Minnesota, which is basically another Canadian team, Lemaire will be under major scrutiny and the losses that will ac*****ulate with an attempt to revive the trap, Jacques Lemaire’s days in Minni are most certainly numbered. Jacques Lemaire is one of my candidate to be fired this season.
The next 15 teams will be posted as soon as possible. Patience is key. These are the teams and coaches to look forward to.
Montreal Canadiens: Claude Julien
Nashville Predators: Barry Trotz
New Jersey Devils: Larry Robinson
New York Islanders: Steve Stirling
New York Rangers: Tom Renney
Ottawa Senators: Bryan Murray
Philadelphia Flyers: Ken Hitch*****
Phoenix Coyotes: Wayne Gretzky
Pittsburgh Penguins: Ed Olczyk
St. Louis Blues: Mike Kitchen
San Jose Sharks: Ron Wilson
Tampa Bay Lightning: John Tortorella
Toronto Maple Leafs: Pat Quinn
Vancouver Canucks: Marc Crawford
Washington Capitals: Glen Hanlon