Tag: coaches

Scott Arniel

Will 2011-12 break record for most coaches fired in a season?


Coaches — they’re hired to be fired.

That’s the old adage, anyway, but it’s holding true as the NHL reaches the midpoint of its season. Seven coaches have been turfed already, two shy of the record first set in 1981-82, then matched in 2000-01.

Coaches relieved of their duties this season were Davis Payne (St. Louis), Bruce Boudreau (Washington), Paul Maurice (Carolina), Randy Carlyle (Anaheim), Terry Murray (Los Angeles), Jacques Martin (Montreal) and, most recently, Scott Arniel (Columbus). That’s seven coaches fired during the first-half of the regular season, a pretty staggering number.

But oddly enough, this season is shaping up a bit like the coaching massacre of 2000-01. That year, only two of the nine coaches dismissed managed to make it through all 82 games — Florida’s Terry Murray and Chicago’s Alpo Suhonen were canned shortly after missing the playoffs — meaning seven faced the guillotine during the regular season.

Pat Burns was fired by Boston after eight games, Montreal canned Alain Vigneault after 20, Craig Ramsay got 28 games in Philly before he bit the bullet and Craig Hartsburg coached 33 before Anaheim let him go. Steve Ludzik got to game No. 39 before Tampa gave him his walking papers and two coaches — Butch Goring (Islanders) and Don Hay (Flames) made it to games 65 and 68, respectively.

So…what are the chances of this year’s coaching death count getting to nine?

Slim, but not nil. The argument could be made that Islanders coach Jack Capuano is on thin ice, but he’s barely had a full year on the job. Same goes for Randy Cunneyworth who, barring an epic collapse, will get to finish the season in Montreal. The Flames could part ways with Brent Sutter if they fall out of the playoff picture (it’d be their third straight missed postseason) and so could the Leafs with Ron Wilson, especially if they fall short of the playoffs.

The wildcard in all of this is timing. Teams that did the business early in the season were able to hire coaches of their choosing — St. Louis got Ken Hitchcock, Carolina got Kirk Muller, Washington got Dale Hunter, Anaheim got Bruce Boudreau and LA got Darryl Sutter — while the teams that waited too long ended up with second choices. No offense to Cunneyworth in Montreal or Todd Richards in Columbus, but both seem like stopgap solutions (at best.)

Teams looking to make a change now might just wait until the season’s over, so they can conduct a more thorough search and have all potential candidates available.

Pat Quinn hopes to coach in the NHL again soon


Sports teams like to run with trends and – sometimes, just sometimes – can be accused of copycatting successful outfits.

In the NHL, the hot trend in coaching is to latch onto the most successful up-and-comers in the AHL and junior ranks. Just look at some of the most successful, hype-soaked teams in the league; such success stories can be found in the form of Stanley Cup winner Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh, Presidents Trophy winner Bruce Boudreau in Washington, hot coach of the moment Guy Boucher in Tampa Bay and a few other spots around the league.

It would make me pine for the olden days of hiring retreads such as “Iron” Mike Keenan, but for the most part, the Bouchers of the world are acquitting themselves pretty well.

Then again, it’s easy to look like a brilliant man in a suit when you have Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin or Steve Stamkos scoring goals left and right. That’s a luxury anti-flavor of the month Pat Quinn did not enjoy when he was a coach for the Edmonton Oilers last season, his last opportunity to be a bench boss.

While that Oilers season was more or less a disaster, it’s difficult to pin the blame on Quinn. Either way, the 66-year-old veteran coach wants another crack at coaching in the NHL, as he told the Associated Press.

Quinn is a true hockey lifer. With more than 600 NHL games as a player and another 1,400 as a head coach, he’s literally spent decades in the dressing room.

Now removed from that setting, he misses the daily interaction with players. But he hasn’t lost hope that the phone might ring with another coaching opportunity.

“It’s been my life,” said Quinn. “As I’ve said before, there was a big void after I lost my job here in Toronto (in 2006). When you don’t think of it as a job — it’s a way of life — and suddenly it’s gone, (it’s tough). I really miss being involved, I was happy for that opportunity in Edmonton last year.

“Heck, I’m a little bit older but not too old to not want to be involved.”

As you can see from this 2007 article written by James Mirtle, 60+ years old coaches were a rarity three years ago and it’s only gotten worse for elderly bosses since then. Correct me if I’m wrong – because there’s a solid chance I might be – but it looks like the oldest coach in the league might be Jacques Martin in Ottawa. Martin is now 58, so Quinn would enter the league as its oldest coach by about eight years (unless there’s an older coach I’ve overlooked).

In other words, the odds are stacked pretty heavily against Quinn. Yet, considering the fact that he survived multiple decades in the NHL, beating the odds is probably a pretty common task for the potential Hall of Famer.