Ken Hitchcock

There are plenty of ‘All-Star’ coaches available for next season

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It seems like every league has a few innovators and a whole bunch of copycats who assume they can Xerox a successful team’s blueprint and then just make sure that they save some ink for playoff tickets.

One can see such a phenomenon in the NHL’s coach hiring practices. Several seasons ago, the league followed the cycle of retreading coaches of varying quality. Bench bosses such as “Iron” Mike Keenan seemed to have more opportunities than a cat has lives.

Yet now that is very much not the case, as the latest trend over the past few seasons is for teams to “call up” AHL coaches who are having great success. In many cases, it’s hard to argue with the results, as former minor league bosses such as Dan Bylsma and Randy Carlyle won Stanley Cups while Bruce Boudreau and Guy Boucher have dramatically improved their teams.

Of course, there might also be some “over-correction.” Michael Farber points out that there is an “All-Star cast” of former coaches hoping for a new job, highlighted by the likes of Bob Hartley and Michel Therrien. Amid all the names Farber drops, he didn’t even get to two other worthy wardens: Andy Murray and Ken Hitchcock.

It’s natural to think that those AHL coaches might be more adept when it comes to adapting to the changing landscape in the NHL – especially since they work with younger players, the best of whom are making rapid jumps to the big leagues – but a smart team might want to hire a Murray or Hitchcock to turn things around. The Edmonton Oilers or New York Islanders would be wise to look to a more experienced NHL coach to transition their youngsters to a more professional game, if nothing else. Therrien did a great job of that in Pittsburgh while Murray and Hitchcock squeezed playoff appearances out of mediocre teams in St. Louis and Columbus.

That might be a good idea, but chances are, it will take one trendsetting team to make such a move before the cycle reverses again.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.