So, Michel Therrien is safe in Montreal.
Ditto for Willie Desjardins in Vancouver.
Combine that with all the big names hired last year — Mike Babcock, Dan Bylsma, and Todd McLellan — and it’s hard to come up with a long list of NHL head coaches on the hot seat.
Therrien and Desjardins would’ve been right at the top if not for the assurances from management. Both have received considerable criticism in their respective markets, and neither of their squads will be making the playoffs. But, again, they’re safe.
As for the rest of the teams that won’t be playing in the postseason? Well, maybe Ottawa moves on from Dave Cameron. The Senators have been a disaster defensively, and they don’t seem to be making much progress in that regard. On the other hand, it was Cameron who took over and helped the Sens into a playoff spot last season. He ended up finishing sixth in the Jack Adams Award voting. So he’s got that going for him.
Maybe no team fires its coach after missing the playoffs.
Which brings us to the teams that could make a change if the playoffs don’t go well.
Surely the St. Louis Blues won’t bring Ken Hitchcock back if they lose for a fourth straight time in the first round. He was brought back this season on a one-year deal, after the Blues had reportedly interviewed Babcock for the job. “This is unfinished business for me,” Hitchcock said in May. “I don’t want to coach to coach. I want to coach to win and I couldn’t find a better spot than to show up right here and coach this hockey club.” We’ll see about that soon.
What about Jack Capuano in Brooklyn? Some might be surprised to know that Capuano has the fourth-longest tenure of any head coach in the league. Only Claude Julien, Joel Quenneville and Dave Tippett have lasted longer. Unlike those three, Capuano has yet to win a playoff series. And unlike when Capuano started on the job, there are expectations for his team now.
What if the Ducks don’t make a deep run? By all indications, Bruce Boudreau barely survived his team’s early-season struggles. Not firing him then looks like a great decision now, but GM Bob Murray may feel otherwise if Anaheim has an early exit. Or, you know, he may not. The Ducks have been on fire since about mid-January. Boudreau is only in this conversation because there are so few other candidates to speak of.
Perhaps there will be a surprise coaching change, one that we don’t see coming. And, of course, the Minnesota Wild still need to decide on interim bench boss John Torchetti.
But unless we’re reading it wrong, next season’s list of head coaches should look a lot like the current one.