Scott Arniel

The Big Question: Which coach will be fired first?


The Big Question will be a weekly feature on PHT where we ask a question, provide some background and ask you, the reader, to weigh in with your opinions.

Today’s question: Which current NHL coach will be fired first? 

Let’s play vulture. Here are the candidates:

Scott Arniel (Columbus) – One win over the Ducks isn’t going to get Arniel off the hot seat, even though the Blue Jackets have denied a report that Ken Hitchcock is on the verge of moving behind the bench. Columbus (2-9-1) plays Toronto Thursday and Philadelphia Saturday, after which the team has four days off. Plenty of time to hold a press conference in that span.

John Tortorella (NY Rangers) – On Saturday, his team blew a three-goal, third-period lead on home ice to the Ottawa Senators. On Sunday, it was reported Sean Avery was being re-called from the AHL, presumably to give the Rangers a much-needed infusion of energy. Was bringing Avery back a desperation move? Maybe, maybe not. Mike Rupp has a knee injury and Dale Weise was waived and picked up by Vancouver a few weeks ago, so the Rangers’ options for energy types were limited. At the same time, Torts has been the team’s coach since the latter half of the 2008-09 season and doesn’t have much to show for his time behind the bench. Plus, he’s pretty grouchy.

Claude Noel (Winnipeg) – The Jets really don’t want to fire their coach a month into the club’s inaugural season in a new city, especially considering they only hired him in June. But with a 3-6-1 record and the “chaos” that came with the team’s slow start, it’s still a situation worth monitoring.

Brent Sutter (Calgary) – The Flames (4-4-1) haven’t exactly come flying out of the gate, and with a new general manager (Jay Feaster) that’s looking to put his stamp on a team that’s missed the playoffs two straight seasons with Sutter behind the bench, well, you do the math.

Jacques Martin (Montreal) – The Habs have won three in a row since their nightmare 1-5-2 start that led to the dismissal of assistant coach Perry Pearn. Things look a lot better now, but Martin isn’t out of the woods yet. Montreal plays four of its next five on the road and could easily be back in panic mode soon.

Paul Maurice (Carolina) – You could argue he doesn’t have a ton to work with – the ‘Canes have one of the NHL’s lowest payrolls. But that hasn’t been a problem for Dallas, Colorado, Ottawa or Florida so far. Nor has it been a problem for Barry Trotz or Dave Tippett in recent years. The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs the past two seasons with Maurice in charge, and they’re not in a playoff position today.

Davis Payne (St. Louis) – The Blues are a talented team that really needs to make the playoffs after failing to qualify the past two seasons. Payne took over from Andy Murray halfway through the 2009-10 season. He’s not the new guy anymore. The schedule-makers didn’t do the Blues (5-6-0) any favors with two tough four-game road trips in October, but with five of their next six at home, Payne needs some wins starting now.

Thoughts? Are we missing any?

NHL on NBCSN ’15-16 coverage begins tonight with doubleheader

Corey Crawford, Derek Stepan
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After months of waiting, we’re finally ready to begin the 2015-16 campaign and NBCSN will kick off its coverage with a doubleheader tonight.

The action will begin with the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the New York Rangers, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Chicago has been called a dynasty by some for winning the Stanley Cup three times over the last six campaigns, but one thing that the Blackhawks haven’t done is successfully defend a title. The last team to do so was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 before the salary cap era kicked off. That change was on display this summer as the Blackhawks were forced to move or otherwise walk away from Johnny Oduya, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, and Brandon Saad in the name of cap compliance.

Even after losing all those pieces of their 2015 championship team though, Chicago has emerged from the summer with much of its core intact. It also has some promising new players, such as 23-year-old KHL star Artemi Panarin, who is attempting to make the leap to the NHL after outscoring former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk on his way to leading SKA St. Petersburg to a KHL championship.

The New York Rangers should be a great first test for the Blackhawks as they begin their new quest. The Rangers advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Final in three of the last four years, but they haven’t earned a championship since 1994. With Henrik Lundqvist set to celebrate his 34th birthday in March, the Rangers’ window for winning the Cup in front of their all-star goaltender is closing and thus the stakes are high for New York this season.

Starting at 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN will air the San Jose Sharks’ contest against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. This is the second straight year that these two teams have been matched for the opener, but this time it’s under much different circumstances.

A year ago, Los Angeles had its sights set on defending its title while the Sharks were seeking revenge after suffering a reverse sweep in the first round against the Kings. In the end, neither team had the season they were looking for as they both fell short of the playoffs.

For the Sharks, that miss ended a playoff streak that dated back to the 2003-04 campaign while Los Angeles suffered its first major setback since it celebrated its first championship in 2012. Both teams have to be hungry to bounce right back this season and given that each both of these squads are certainly capable of obtaining that goal. First though, they need to settle the latest chapter of their rivalry.

PHT Morning Skate: Remembering 10 years of Crosby, Ovechkin

Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Here’s a detailed look back at Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin‘s first 10 years in the NHL. (

Speaking of Crosby, he’s signed a multiyear partnership with adidas. (Newswire)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play a key role in easing Connor McDavid into the NHL. (Edmonton Sun)

After two polar opposite seasons, the jury is still out on Patrick Roy as a head coach. (Denver Post)

Marc-Andre Fleury enjoys pulling off pranks on his teammates. “I play better when I’m looser, laughing and having fun,” he said. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Art McDonald, a Canadian who won recently won a Nobel Prize, talked to the committee members about the Toronto Maple Leafs. (SB Nation)