Tag: coaches on the hot seat

Buffalo Sabres v Los Angeles Kings

Do the Kings need a Blues-style wake-up call?


The NHL is a copycat league. Once a few teams enjoyed success mining the AHL for head coaching talent, the herd followed to an almost comical degree. So even though it’s ludicrously unfair to ask this question, I cannot help but blurt it out anyway: do the Los Angeles Kings need a St. Louis Blues-style wake-up call?

Los Angeles Times beat writer Helene Elliott spoke of the possibility of a “jolt” coming on the heels of the Kings’ 4-2 loss to the surging San Jose Sharks. The thing is, GM Dean Lombardi doesn’t have a whole lot of obvious players to trade, unless he would opt to deal from his significant treasure chest of defensive prospects.

With that in mind, I cannot help but wonder if head coach Terry Murray will be the unfair scapegoat much like Davis Payne was in St. Louis. Let’s look at some of the factors that could justify the move – some of which might seem oddly similar to the Blues’ issues.

  • A mediocre record: The Blues fired Payne at 6-7-0 while the Kings are 6-5-3. Los Angeles is on a five-game losing streak in which they’ve generated just two points. That’s a scary trend in a brutal Western Conference and a cutthroat Pacific Division.
  • Limp offense: Murray’s Kings are scoring just 2.14 goals per game, the third worst total in the league. Some grimace that former Kings prospects such as Brian Boyle and Teddy Purcell’s offensive games have taken off once they left Los Angeles, too.
  • A big batch of home games: The Blues will roll out the red carpet for Hitchcock with five games in St. Louis while the Kings’ next four games will come at home.
  • Heightened expectations: While the Blues carry playoff aspirations, many (including certain PHT staffers) believed the Kings have the potential to go to the Stanley Cup finals.

Murray is a good coach who helped the Kings go from an unshaped mass to a playoff contender, but some might believe that they need a new voice to get that extra boost to the elite level.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, but there are enough similarities that the situation isn’t outside the realm of possibility. What would you do if you were in Lombardi’s situation?

Video: Ed Olczyk and Keith Jones break down coaches on ‘the hot seat’

Bruce Boudreau

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.

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Are people asking for the wrong Sutter brother to be fired in Calgary?


The way things are going for the Flames, it’s tougher to find a reason for optimism in Calgary than it is to find a beaming smile on a Sutter brother’s face.

Yet when it comes to the typical need to find a scapegoat, it seems like media members are focusing on the wrong unsmiling countenance. While rumors fly that Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter might be shown the door, the truth is that his brother (general manager Darryl Sutter) is the architect of the shambling wreck that is this franchise’s roster.

Looking at the Flames roster, it’s tough to be chipper about any outlook – long or short term. In the present, the team is stocked with high-priced players who are getting long in the tooth (from aging captain Jarome Iginla to floating mass Olli Jokinen). The short and long-term future isn’t much better, as they’re low on prospects and only own one draft choice in the top 100 spots this year.

When you spend the kind of money Calgary does on a roster that sits at the bottom of the Western Conference, it’s reasonable to wonder what kind of job the coach is doing. Yet, when it comes down to it, George Johnson of the Calgary Herald is right in resting most of the blame on Darryl instead of Brent Sutter.

Should they be better? Given the geriatric makeup, yes. Somewhat. Is that partly Brent Sutter’s fault? Of course. He’ll admit as much.

Yet it’s utterly astonishing how many times this requires repeating: The downfall is in construction, not coaching.

They’re old, expensive, set in their ways. One pick in the Top 100 this draft year. Outside of Mikael Backlund, their top “young” players are 27 (Mark Giordano, Jay Bouwmeester), 29 (Rene Bourque) and soon-to-be 29 (David Moss). Yessiree, now THERE’s a boy band that’ll top the charts!

Geez, people, roll out of bed and sniff the dark roast already.

Yet the ground is littered with casualties (the unfortunate Jim Playfair, the not-so-unfortunate Mike Keenan, assorted assistants — it’s always, apparently, a coaching deficiency) and Darryl Sutter still stands defiant, apparently as bulletproof as Eliot Ness’ flak jacket. Why? How?

There is plenty of value in ownership showing some loyalty and patience. After all, there’s enough randomness in sports that an “off” season can happen. Yet it seems like the Flames organization is stubborn in its support of Darryl alone.

It doesn’t take long to notice that the team is not structured to succeed much past the next few seasons. And considering their current results, the present isn’t much prettier than the future.

So, the question is: do you think that Brent, Darryl or both Sutter brothers should go? Personally, I think that the awkward familial connection means that they’re a package deal. Brent’s in a tough spot, but it would be strange to seem him work with a different GM. So perhaps it’s all or nothing, then?

Personally speaking, I would clean house and probably see what kind of value the team could get for Iginla and some of the other team’s older assets. At some point, someone with clear eyes will need to come forward and assess the clear reality of the situation: this is a team that should be in rebuild mode.

Darryl Sutter doesn’t seem like he’s that man.

Poll results: PHT readers think that Brian Burke and Ron Wilson should be fired

Dion Phaneuf, Ron Wilson, Brian Burke

Coming off the Toronto Maple Leafs’ embarrassing 5-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers – and considering the widespread hand wringing that ensued – it seemed like a good time to ask if Brian Burke and/or Ron Wilson should get canned on Friday.

Similarly enough, tonight seems like a solid one to publish the results. After all, Burke and Wilson’s Leafs are currently playing the Boston Bruins (the game is tied 1-1 after the first period as of this writing), one of the teams associated with Burke’s biggest moves.

(In case you need a refresher, Burke gambled big on a trade with Boston for Phil Kessel in a deal that included highly valuable draft picks, most notably one that gave them the chance to select Tyler Seguin.)

Honestly, this seems like a situation in which a volatile, please-the-masses firing would do more harm than good. Aside from the expiring contract of fledgling backup J.S. Giguere, Burke locked the Leafs into Kessel and Dion Phaneuf being their big money guys. Cleaning house would be a difficult thing right now and would simply hit the “Reset” button on a rebuilding process that’s gone on since (at least) the lockout.

Now, don’t get me wrong; that’s not my way of saying that either Burke or Wilson is excelling at their jobs. It just seems like they Leafs would be better off sticking with an ugly marriage rather than dealing with a crippling divorce.

Enough of my thoughts, though, let’s take a look at who PHT readers would fire if they were in charge.

(click to enlarge)

As you can see from the poll, an overwhelming majority (46.2 percent or 73 of 158 votes) believe that both Burke and Wilson should be fired. The next largest group of readers wanted Wilson to go (42 votes or 26.58 percent) while almost as many readers voted for neither (36 votes or 22.78 percent). A remarkably scant amount of voters thought that Burke should be the only one to go (7 votes or 4.43 percent), although then again, it is difficult to imagine Burke going and Wilson staying.

Again, contextually, I think it’s a bad time for a house cleaning with the ownership situation in the air and very little flexibility to make big moves before next summer. If it were based on job performance alone, though, it would be pretty hard to argue that either Burke or Wilson deserve to keep their jobs.

(At least in a league in which firings are extremely commonplace outside of Buffalo and Nashville.)

Poll: Should the Maple Leafs fire Ron Wilson and/or Brian Burke?

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Despite the team’s three game winning streak and promising young talent, it’s never good to lose to the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 5-0. Especially at home. But when you consider the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs were that home team, an embarrassing loss transforms into a travesty in the pressure cooker atmosphere of Toronto.

There are certain stories that seem to inevitably pop up throughout a given year. From another glimpse of Kanye West’s Zdeno Chara-sized ego to Tomas Kaberle/Vincent Lecavalier trade rumors, it almost seems like the media figures that a rumor will turn into the truth with enough ink-soaked “at bats.”

That seems to be the case when it comes to the well-documented calls for the head of Leafs coach Ron Wilson, a story that once again surfaced like a pimple on Prom Night. Darren Dreger of TSN passes along word from Toronto GM Brian Burke that amounts to yet another “vote of confidence” as Burke reportedly isn’t planning on making any “drastic” changes.

There are no plans for drastic change in Toronto, including the firing of head coach Ron Wilson.

“No coaching change,” said Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke via e-mail, no doubt frustrated by his team’s play and the predictable line of questioning that inevitably follows each Leafs’ loss.

At this point – if you ask me – Burke and Wilson must be viewed as a package deal. I think Burke is actually a bit more to blame, as he reacted to the win-now philosophy in Toronto by investing far too much in talented but flawed forward Phil Kessel. In fact, most of his big gambles aren’t yielding many results, as expensive additions such as Dion Phaneuf and J.S. Giguere keep falling short of their paychecks.

Perhaps the Leafs could benefit from a clean sweep – from owners to general manager to their coaching staff – if they do indeed complete a sale with Rogers. It’s unclear what firing Wilson alone would really accomplish, aside from throwing a little meat to a rabid fan base.

Then being said, I thought I’d make this as simple as possible: who should go in Toronto? Vote in the poll below.