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?