Top 5: disastrous coaching seasons from NHL history

Ottawa Senators coach Rick Bowness

It’s coach-canning season, folks! Time to throw your curmudgeonly bench boss overboard and blame your team’s failures on the easiest guy to get rid of.

John Tortorella, Adam Oates, Peter Horacek and Barry Trotz have already been fired, and they won’t be the last ones to be shown the door. In some cases (read: Tortorella), it just wasn’t a fit. In others, the guy wasn’t quite ready for full-time coaching yet (Oates). And we all knew the Barry Trotz era would end eventually, right?

But none of the guys who lost their job this year – or who are going to lose it soon – deserve to be slapped with the ‘disaster’ label.

No, that label is best reserved for this dubious list of coaches from NHL history (minimum 30 games played).
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Ask Adam: Playoff suspensions, referee hate, Caps management, and moving Rick Nash

Rick Nash

Mailbag time again. Thanks for your submissions.

Adam,

I know whistles are swallowed in the playoffs, but what does it take to get suspended? Matt Read put a clear shoulder into Daniel Carcillo’s head. Nothing happened. Milan Lucic spears Danny Dekeyser in the you-know-what. Nothing happens. Ryan Garbut spears Corey Perry in the stomach. Nothing happens. The league complains about player safety, yet is doing nothing to protect them. Matt Cooke and Brent Seabrook were suspended. Why not these guys?
Scott Brofman, Los Angeles, Calif.

Scott,

We’ve known for years now that the NHL sees every incident as being inherently different from all the others, which is the league’s justification for not installing a uniform set of punishments based on unacceptable actions. So it should come as no surprise that, for instance, the rash of vicious spearing we’ve seen in the first round of this year’s playoffs would lead to different punishments – Lucic gets a $5,000 fine for spearing Danny DeKeyser; Garbut received a $1,474.56 fine for doing the same thing to Perry; and Perry received no fine at all for spearing Jamie Benn – and mass confusion.

This disparity is a manifestation of the league’s overall attitude toward players: it’s a Wild West mentality that encourages a culture of retribution, because NHLers understand the league isn’t going to exact justice for anything but the most egregious acts – and even then, the suspensions usually aren’t tough enough (see Cooke, Matt vs. Barrie, Tyson). Read more

Handicapping the new breed of NHL GMs

Michael Futa

When you look at the roster of current GMs in the NHL, it’s uncanny how one thing stands out. What you come to realize is that the Old Boys’ Network™ is rapidly shrinking and is being replaced by young executives who have done their time in the industry, but don’t necessarily come with long hockey resumes as players.

There are currently 28 men occupying the top job in hockey operations departments around the league – the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks are currently seeking replacements – and for 20 of them, this is their first GM job. Twelve of them were brought in from outside the organization for which they currently work. Of the 28, it’s pretty much split down the middle in terms of those coming from a high playing background – 15 of them played at least one game in the NHL and 13 did not. (I’m including Joe Sakic in that list, even though technically Greg Sherman is still the GM of the Colorado Avalanche in title.) Read more

Jaroslav Halak trade signals Islanders intention to give 2015 first round pick to Buffalo

Jaroslav-Halak-WSH

By acquiring Jaroslav Halak from the Washington Capitals Thursday, the New York Islanders and GM Garth Snow are indicating this will be an aggressive summer for them. The Isles have a goalie who St. Louis, if they could do it all over again, would probably run into the Stanley Cup playoffs with instead of Ryan Miller.

The Isles have him – so long as they can sign him.

The 28-year-old Halak, you see, is a pending UFA, hence the low price of a single fourth round pick to acquire him. If he signs, the Islanders will finally have the leading goalie they haven’t had in place for years. They should have had it with Roberto Luongo, thought they had it with Rick DiPietro and Evgeni Nabokov has been a placeholder while they’ve searched for a guy specifically like Halak.

So Snow will surely begin trying to strike a new deal with Halak as soon as possible. And to get maximum return for this trade, a contract with the goalie should be signed before June 1. That’s the deadline for the Islanders to make another big decision: keep their first round pick, or give it up to the Sabres? Read more

Capitals trade Halak to Long Island in what should be a good fit for both the Isles and goalie

Jaroslav Halak (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

After being criticized most of the 2013-14 season for not addressing his team’s defense in a meaningful way, Islanders GM Garth Snow moved quickly to shore up the back end, trading a fourth-round draft pick to Washington Thursday for the rights to pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Jaroslav Halak. While the deal might not have been the first choice for either the Isles or Halak – Snow’s first choice may have been someone younger than the 28-year-old Slovakian, while Halak’s first choice was likely a team that has a solid record of playoff success in the past decade – it’s a move that can pay off for both parties.

Of course, Snow has to get Halak’s name on a new contract, but that shouldn’t be difficult. It’s not as if Halak was going to have his pick of suitors this summer; the goalie market is as flat as it’s ever been and although Halak’s statistics last season (including a .917 save percentage and 2.23 goals-against average in 40 games with the Blues, and a .930 SP and 2.31 G.A.A. in 12 games with the Caps) were solid, St. Louis dealt him because he hadn’t grabbed the starter’s job as the organization hoped he would. Read more

Coach, GM carousels could go into warp speed if Sharks lose Game 7

McLellan and Wilson

You’d have to think there are a number of nervous NHL hockey operations people out there who will be cheering vociferously for the San Jose Sharks to win Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday night.

Because if it comes to pass that the Sharks blow their 3-0 series lead and allow the Kings to become only the fourth team in NHL history to come back from such a daunting deficit, it could very well set into motion a game of management musical chairs the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Read more

With a new GM at the helm, where will the Washington Capitals go from here?

Casey Ippolito
tedleonsisgeorgemcpheeadamoates

Who should rightfully take the blame for the perpetually disappointing Washington Capitals? Today, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis made it clear that he believes mismanagement was the issue when he announced the dismissal of GM George McPhee and coach Adam Oates.

Hard to argue with either decision. Ultimately, on-ice success is the responsibility of the GM and the coach. The results just haven’t been there under the watch of McPhee, and more recently, Oates. Before failing to qualify this year, the Caps made the playoffs for six straight seasons, winning only three rounds. Read more