There will be at least one NHL coach fired during this season, of that we are sure. So who are the lead candidates to take the next job openings?
We look at five coaches who will be considered by NHL teams looking for a mid-season replacement.
1. Dan Bylsma
Fired by the Penguins after another disappointing playoff result, it’s only a matter of time before Bylsma finds his next job. He was in the running for a few jobs this past summer (Florida, Vancouver) but he can afford to wait for the perfect fit. He’s won a Stanley Cup and coached USA at the Olympics last winter, but has come under fire for his tactics and lack of in-game adjustments. Any team that fires its coach mid-season will have a long look at Bylsma.
2. Guy Boucher
When he was hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning off of Montreal’s farm team, the now-43-year-old Boucher was considered a young whiz in his position. In 2011, his Lightning were one win shy of a Stanley Cup final appearance, but Boucher couldn’t build on that success. Tampa missed the playoffs the following season and in 2012-13, Boucher was fired after a 13-17-1 start. He took a coaching job in Switzerland last season, but would return to the NHL if an offer came along. Eventually, that opportunity will come.
3. Ron Wilson
The veteran NHL boss hasn’t had a head coaching job since he was let go by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012, but he may still have a coaching life left. The 59-year-old was reportedly interviewed by Florida and Pittsburgh for their vacancies this summer. Wilson has one Stanley Cup final appearance in his past and has worked with some good teams, but overall, he’s missed the playoffs nine seasons out of 17.
4. John Tortorella
Shiver. In-your-face coaches like Tortorella seems to be on the way out, but at 56 and with a Stanley Cup and Jack Adams on his resume, Tortorella may get one more chance from someone. After combative tenures in New York and Vancouver, the latter of which was a one-season implosion, ‘Torts’ could maybe use a year or two off, which is why we have him at No. 4 here. But if there is a GM out there who wants to give his players a kick in the pants, Tortorella would be a fit. He may not be the best hire, but he’s not out of the NHL picture yet.
5. Claude Noel
He didn’t get results in Winnipeg, but Noel was also hamstrung by a poor goalie and a below average roster that wasn’t being improved by management. Noel won a Calder Cup with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2004 and replaced Ken Hitchcock behind Columbus’ bench for 24 games in 2009-10. Is he an NHL head coach, or better suited for the AHL or as an assistant?