In a way, it seems cruel and short-sighted that coaching jobs are so unstable in sports. There are even instances when that model of behavior is refuted by successful alternatives. The NFL’s gold standard franchise is probably the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that rarely changes its head coach. The Atlanta Braves experienced a staggering era of success with Bobby Cox. Of course, in the NHL, it’s all about Lindy Ruff in Buffalo and Barry Trotz in Nashville.
On the other hand, the salary cap era fosters the belief that quick turnarounds are just a coaching change away. Franchises probably look at situations like Dave Tippett turning around a moribund Phoenix Coyotes squad and assume that they can do it too.
There are some obvious coaches on the hot seat going into the 2011-12 season. People were calling for the head of Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson quite frequently last season, so another playoff-free season might do him in. After a Cinderella first year, the Colorado Avalanche’s 2010-11 meltdown puts third-year coach Joe Sacco in a tough position. Missing the playoffs for a third straight season might be a serious problem for Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice and for St. Louis Blues bench boss Davis Payne.
Yet it isn’t just about coaches of teams who haven’t made the playoffs very often. Success is a relative thing, so when Versus asked Ed Olczyk and Keith Jones about their choices for coaches on the hot seat, they chose two bosses of genuine contenders. At least one of the choices might surprise you.