Who will be the first coach to go this season?
Online sportsbook Bovada have issued their odds for who will be fired first and two prominent coaches are at the top of the list:
Boston’s Claude Julien — 3/2
Los Angeles’ Darryl Sutter — 2/1
Columbus’ Todd Richards — 5/1
Pittsburgh’s Mike Johnston — 11/2
Dallas’ Lindy Ruff — 6/1
Carolina’s Bill Peters — 7/1
Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau — 11/1
Three of the last five Stanley Cup championships have been won by Los Angeles and Boston under Sutter and Julien’s care respectively, but neither squad was able to make the playoffs last season. Which begs the question: How long does it take before past success gets outweighed by more recent issues?
Julien has been a popular target in discussions about potential coaching changes for months now. It got to the point where president Cam Neely felt it necessary to defend the bench boss by say it’s “unfair to Claude” to assume he’s on the hot seat. That hasn’t ended the speculation though, especially in light of Boston’s 1-3-0 record.
Los Angeles’ success under Sutter is even more pronounced, but the Kings are coming off of a disappointing campaign and have opened 2015-16 by being out scored 12-2 in three contests. It could be argued that the Kings’ slow start is even more disheartening than the Bruins’, given that Boston’s woes can at least be partially explained by the injuries to defensemen Dennis Seidenberg (back) and, during the first two games, Zdeno Chara (upper body).
The other coaches on this list are off to rough starts too, with the notable exception of Ruff, whose Stars are 2-1-0.
Related: Blue Jackets still searching for their identity
Chicago has gained another defensive option and it’s a familiar face.
The Blackhawks announced that Kyle Cumiskey has agreed to a one-year contract.
The financial terms weren’t disclosed, but its a one-way, $575K deal, according to ESPN’s Scott Powers. He had a two-way contract last season, although it was out of the ordinary as he still drew an annual salary of $400K in the minors.
Even with his new deal, he might get sent to the minors. His contract is small enough that the cap hit would be completely buried by demoting him, although he would need to clear through waivers first. On top of that, he’s still a few weeks away from playing due to an injury.
The 28-year-old defenseman spent most of 2014-15 playing for AHL Rockford, but he did end up playing in nine playoff contests with Chicago, including the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final.
Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson can be counted on to be the Chicago’s top-three blueliners and Trevor Daley should maintain a regular role as well. If Cumiskey did stay with the Blackhawks, he would be competing with David Rundblad, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Viktor Svedberg for one of the final two spots.
Update: Cumiskey has been waived, per Bob McKenzie.
Blue Jackets defenseman Dalton Prout claimed prior to Wednesday’s game that the contest would be treated “as the most important game of the season” and is a “must-win.”
That makes Columbus’ 7-3 loss to Ottawa last night to drop to 0-4-0 this season all the more disturbing.
“There’s a lot of things that go on when you’ve given up … we’ve given up 20 goals,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Trust is definitely one of those things. That goes throughout the team. I’m talking trust in executing the system, and knowing each person needs to do.”
Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno feels the team has lost its identity. In the meantime, the way Columbus allowed the game to slip away after holding a 3-2 lead was “disgusting.”
Richards said the team is trying to find that identity, but right now “I don’t think we have any idea what we need to be.”
It all has to be extremely disheartening for the organization, which had written off last season’s failure due to the sheer volume of man games lost. Now the Blue Jackets are relatively healthy and have added Brandon Saad to boot and yet they’ve been a complete mess.
While there might not actually be must-win games in October, Friday’s contest against the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs is an important one, especially because it will be followed up by three tough contests against Chicago, the Islanders, and Minnesota.
Related: Bobrovsky admits he has ‘zero confidence right now’
The Colorado Avalanche’s first three games have been quite the mixed bag.
They surrendered four unanswered goals over a 5:07-minute span in the third period to suffer a 5-4 loss to Minnesota in the Avalanche’s opener. Colorado responded by getting two points out of a game versus Dallas, but the Avalanche suffered a crushing 6-2 loss against the Bruins last night.
“I’m not happy. I’m not happy at all,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said, per the Denver Post. “We didn’t compete like we should. We turned the puck (over) on the last four goals. We made poor decisions in the neutral zone. That can’t happen.
“I understand if we don’t have our ‘A’ game. That doesn’t mean we need to be 5-0 in the hole before we start playing.
“Tonight, I saw things where we were out of control. It was chaos in our own zone. We just couldn’t focus. If you watch the video, we had guys changing on (one) goal while the play was coming in our end. It’s unacceptable. We can’t play like this. If we want to make the playoffs, this is not the type of performance we need.”
Perhaps the most concerning part of the Avalanche’s first three games has been Semyon Varlamov, who now has a 5.06 GAA and .841 save percentage. Under Patrick Roy, the Avalanche are a team that consistently gets outshot and they’ve relied on Varlamov to make up that difference.
Varlamov wasn’t happy with his performance on Wednesday, although Roy noted that it’s not all about him.
“You look at the goal he gave up in the second, no help,” he said.
At the end of the day, a 1-2-0 record is far from a disaster, even if its not ideal. A win in Anaheim on Friday would go a long way towards putting this all behind the Avalanche.
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.
The Vancouver Canucks have decided to use individual goal celebration songs for each player. The Canucks players get to pick their goal song, but Radim Vrbata wants the fans to choose for him. The new songs will make their debut Friday. (Canucks.nhl.com)
Here are the highlights from Philadelphia’s 3-0 win over Chicago:
There is such a thing as Babsocks. (Puck Daddy)
Kimmo Timonen spoke publicly prior to being honored Wednesday and described the Philadelphia Flyers as “my No. 1 team.” (CSN Philly)
Some context for the Montreal Canadiens’ great start:
Speaking of Montreal, the Bell Centre will undergo $100 million worth of renovations over the next three years. (CJAD 800)
Sam Bennett hasn’t recorded a point in the first three games of his rookie season. Teammate Johnny Gaudreau has been in the same position though and is urging patience. (Flames.nhl.com)