Updated Look At NHL Coaches on the Hot Seat

by | Nov 25, 2018 | Soapbox | 8 comments

Earlier this month, I looked at several NHL coaches thought to be at risk of losing their jobs. Since then, the St. Louis Blues fired Mike Yeo while Todd McLellan was relieved of his duties by the Edmonton Oilers.

Yeo was among those on my previous list. Given the Blues ongoing struggles since then, it wasn’t surprising when his firing was announced last week.

McLellan wasn’t on my list because the Oilers at that time had recently overcome a slow start and seemed to be surging in the Western Conference standings. Their resulting slump led to his dismissal.

Given these recent developments, it’s time to revisit and revise the listing. Some who were on the original compilation have seen an upturn in their fortunes while others could still be feeling the heat.

Dave Hakstol, Philadelphia Flyers. While many of the Flyers faithful remain disenchanted with Hakstol, GM Ron Hextall remains patient with his coach and his roster. They’re playing .500 hockey right now as their performances continue to blow hot and cold. Their inconsistency continues to cast a harsh spotlight upon Hakstol.

Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher could be among several NHL coaches feeling the heat this season. (Photo via NHL.com).

Guy Boucher, Ottawa Senators. He’s in the final season of his contract and there’s no certainty he’ll be back after this season. Though the Senators defied expectations earlier this season, they’ve sunk in recent weeks toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference. With the club seemingly at the mercy of their unpredictable owner Eugene Melnyk, it wouldn’t be surprising if Boucher was handed his walking papers before the new year.

Bob Boughner, Florida Panthers. With a knee injury sidelining goaltender Roberto Luongo for the opening month of the season, the Panthers got off to a sputtering start. They’ve shown some improvement since Luongo’s return and aren’t out of playoff contention yet but remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. If they don’t gain ground in the standings soon, speculation could grow over Boughner’s job security.

Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins. With the Penguins sitting outside the Eastern Conference standings, GM Jim Rutherford is shopping around for trades to bolster his struggling roster. Sullivan can’t be faulted for injuries sidelining several key players, goalie Matt Murray’s shaky start and the lack of skilled depth among his checking lines. But if there are no season-saving trades on the horizon, perhaps Rutherford will consider a coaching change.

Randy Carlyle, Anaheim Ducks. Despite losing top defensemen Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm to recent injuries, the Ducks entered this week holding onto third place in the Pacific Division. Despite critics suggesting Carlyle’s tactics no longer work in a league trending toward youth and speed, Ducks general manager Bob Murray is sticking by his coach. Their recent improvement could reduce some of the heat Carlyle’s felt in recent weeks.

Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings. After one of the worst starts in franchise history, the Red Wings rallied back in recent weeks. They’re now within striking distance of a wild-card berth, silencing Blashill’s critics. The Wings aren’t going to part with him now.



  1. I’m starting to wonder of Dorion’s job is safe in Ottawa, never mind Boucher’s. He HAS to get a seasoned goalie to back-up Anderson – one with a lot more experience than McKenna. And he HAS to shore up that D with at least one veteran (not too old) by relinquishing some of that offense, which is near the top of the league, since his D is at the very bottom. Those are the main reasons for the recent slide. The guy I’d dangle is Dzingel, fast with a season of 23 goals last year and off to a decent start this year. Otherwise, they will continue to experience games like the recent ones where they’ve scored enough to win but aren’t given Anderson much support (54 shots by Minnesota in their last game).

  2. Not sure what’s going on in San Jose these days; some of their recent losses have been ridiculous. Do you see the possibility of a coaching change there, Lyle?

    • Anything’s possible, BCLeafFan, but there’s no indication DeBoer’s in danger of losing his job. At least, not yet.

  3. Sully has been hit with key injuries for sure.

    I don’t believe he has lost the dressing room.

    I do wonder however if he has lost perspective though…. just 3 examples…

    ….playing Ruhwedel in so many games ; sitting Riikola??

    …. sitting Sprong for so many games; finally bringing him back only to play him 4 mins; then the next game; giving him a “massive” increase in ice-time to 7 mins; while ZAR played 16 mins???? Burying Sprong with linemates that drag his natural talents

    ….playing JJ in EVERY game…. ouch; playing him big minutes in all games…. ouch??? WTF???? Help

    Fingers crosssd on a change in perspective ….

    ….. perhaps it comes with another GMJR “tweak” trade that spurs production but has no long term detriment to the team

    My quick tweaks

    -don’t play Ruhweedel at all … injury… then bring up Prow

    -drop JJ’s minutes by 5-7 a game ; mostly offset by increase to Jamie O minutes

    -switch mins and slots … ZAR/Sprong ; give some shifts to Sprong with Crosby & Guentzel

    Just food for thought Sully

    • How about not playing plugs like Cullen, Grant, and Garret Wilson over skilled players like Sprong and Blueger or Angelo. Double A could be the Pens version of Tom Wilson but Sullivan continues to put too much faith in washed up veterans and never was older players. Time for him to have a leap of faith. Garret Wilson is a 4th liner in the AHL, there is no way in hell he should be anywhere near the NHL team.

      • Angelo and skilled player don’t belong in the same sentence.

        I know the Pittsburgh gazette wrote a raving review about the guy, but there aren’t many people around the nhl that have the same shiny outlook of this 5th rounder who figures to be a bottom 6 forward at best.

        If this guy is Pittsburgh’s great hope, Sullivan is a goner for sure!

      • 10 points in 18 games as a rookie is actually not bad at all. 6’5”, 230 and can play centre and wing and has a mean streak. I never said he was any great hope but he has a lot more upside than Garret Wilson, Grant and the ghost of Matt Cullen. The Penguins best prospects are not playing in the AHL and are therefore not available to help out. Angelo, Blueger, Haggerty, Johnson, DiPauli, Lindberg, Ohlund, Millitec, none of them are household names but they are the best players available from WBS. Sullivan would rather play short then give any of these guys a chance. He picks the bottom 6 plug to call up because Wilson reminds him of himself when he was a player.

      • I don’t see guys like that being the answer. I think Sprong by way of production, or trade as being there best bet.

        And I’m not sure Sprong is enough either way. This team lacks secondary scoring. I believe they will get better, but I don’t see them as being the dominant team we’ve seen in years past.

        That’s the price you pay for winning multiple cups. LA, Chicago, … it’s pretty much the way it goes.