Scott Arniel

The Big Question: Which coach will be fired first?

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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?

Ehrhoff clears waivers; Jonathan Quick hurt?

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, right, stops a shot as teammate Christian Ehrhoff, of Germany, and Columbus Blue Jackets' Scott Hartnell watch during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Blue Jackets won 3-2. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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Christian Ehrhoff has cleared waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

The Kings made the 33-year-old defenseman available yesterday. It’s expected he’ll be assigned to AHL Ontario, with 23-year-old d-man Kevin Gravel getting called up.

“Nothing wrong with Christian Ehrhoff,” coach Darryl Sutter told reporters Wednesday. “We’re not exactly world beaters here. We don’t have the best defense in the league or the best team in the league. We’re trying to get better in a hurry.”

In addition to the Ehrhoff news, goalie Peter Budaj has been added to the Kings’ roster on the NHL’s media website, meaning Jonathan Quick (reportedly “day-to-day” with an injury sustained Tuesday in Boston) could miss some time.

After acquiring Phaneuf, are Sens now gunning for Drouin?

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin waits for play to resume in the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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Plenty of smoke coming from the Canadian capital this week.

After landing Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf in a shock blockbuster on Tuesday, there are now reports that Ottawa’s in the mix for disgruntled Bolts forward Jonathan Drouin.

Two separate TVA reports — one from Louis Jean, one from Renaud Lavoie — suggest that Sens GM Bryan Murray is working to get Drouin out of Tampa Bay. Drouin, the third overall pick in ’13, hasn’t played hockey at all since late January, when he was suspended without pay for failing to report to games for the club’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse.

The Drouin-to-Ottawa move makes sense on a number of fronts:

— As Lavoie notes, Murray is always looking to “find those players who quote-unquote ‘nobody wants anymore.'” Such was the case with Kyle Turris, who was acquired by the Sens after a falling out with the Coyotes in 2011. Recently, Turris was asked about the similarities between his situation and Drouin’s, saying the time after his trade request was made public was a “tough, tough go,” but that the opportunity he received with the Sens “saved” him.

— The rumored asking price for Drouin is believed to be defenseman Cody Ceci, the former first-round pick that partnered with Phaneuf in last night’s loss to Detroit. This, too, would make sense — Ceci, 22, is in his third professional season and progressing nicely, having already matched his career-best in goals. In several ways, he’s like another rumored target in Drouin trade talks:

Mathew Dumba.

— Dumba, like Ceci, is a pending RFA still on his entry-level deal. That club controlled contract would be important for the Bolts’ financial situation. Ceci could also be a capable replacement for Lightning d-man Jason Garrison, who on Thursday was ruled out for 3-5 weeks with a lower-body injury.

And remember, Murray isn’t afraid to make splashy deals. Prior to the Phaneuf trade, he orchestrated the Bobby Ryan move with Anaheim and, a year later, traded then-captain Jason Spezza to Dallas.

Murray and Yzerman have also connected on a trade once before. In ’13, the Sens sent Ben Bishop to Tampa in exchange for Cory Conacher.

Bolts lose ‘minute-munching defenseman’ Garrison for 3-5 weeks

during Game Two of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 6, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.
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The Tampa Bay Lightning expect defenseman Jason Garrison to miss 3-5 weeks with a lower-body injury.

Garrison was hurt in Monday’s 5-1 loss to Ottawa. The 31-year-old played just 4:10 of that game, missing the final two periods.

“That’s a tough one too, because he’s a big minute-munching defenseman for us,” coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “A big body and size.”

Garrison has just four goals and three assists in 52 games, but he’s third on the Bolts in average ice time (18:23), second in blocked shots (76), and third in hits (69).

Matt Carle replaced Garrison for Tuesday’s 4-2 loss in Montreal.

Kadri fined $5K for throat slash gesture at Giordano

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
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Nazem Kadri‘s “inappropriate gestures” on Tuesday night have left him lighter in the wallet.

On Thursday, the NHL announced that Kadri has been fined $5,000 — the maximum allowable under the CBA — for making a throat slash gesture at Mark Giordano during Calgary’s 4-3 win over the Leafs two nights ago.

The incident occurred after Kadri took exception to a heavy Giordano check. While on the bench, the Leafs forward made the gesture, one the NHL has been cracking down on since 2000.

Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.