As we have all witnessed, the NHL season has just started. For the NHL coaches, it’s the time of the year when they have to give everything they have in order to eventually reach the one and ultimate goal: winning the Stanley Cup. On one hand, some of the coaches will continue to build on the positives from the last season. On the other hand, some others will try to salvage their job by at least making the playoffs. Speaking of those whom will attempt to prove the doubters wrong, here are five NHL coaches that could get fired this year.
5 NHL Coaches On The Hot Seat
1. Paul Maurice – Coach of the Winnipeg Jets
When Paul Maurice replaced Claude Noel in the middle of the 2013-2014 campaign, there were some very high hopes. However, the Jets couldn’t make the playoffs. During his four years of tenure, Winnipeg made it to the postseason only once, getting swept in four games against the Anaheim Ducks.
If this coach fails to bring this team further than where it has been, he will certainly lose his job. Winnipeg has seem valuable young assets on their roster. Also, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff managed to bring in a solid goalie in Steve Mason. This should stabilize their goaltending situation which had seemed problematic the last few seasons. In short, Paul Maurice has no choice to prove that this team could aspire to championships.
2. Barry Trotz – Coach of the Washington Capitals
For almost a decade now, the Washington Capitals have been considered as favorites to win the prestigious cup. Year after year, they have failed to get past the second round of the playoffs. Barry Trotz is now on his fourth consecutive season behind Washington’s bench and still, the team has never seen the light at the end of the tunnel. Alex Ovechkin is not getting any younger, and the fans have been waiting for so long.
Throughout the offseason, the Capitals were able to re-sign both Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie for eight years. Also, they managed to lock up young defenseman Dmitri Orlov for another six years. In the end, coach Barry Trotz now has another year to bring to this franchise its first Stanley Cup.
3. Alain Vigneault – Coach of the New York Rangers
At 35 years old, the clock is ticking for goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Today, coach Alain Vigneault is well aware of the situation. As soon as he stepped in for the job in his first year, the team reached the Stanley Cup finals to eventually lose against the Los Angeles Kings. The year after, after the 2014-2015 campaign, they reached the Eastern Conference finals and lost. The Tampa Bay Lightning proved to be the top team that year. Since then, the team has never been further than the second round. Alain’s seat is slowly heating up as he has never brought a championship to New York under his tenure.
He is now starting his fifth consecutive year, and we can’t blame the Rangers for not managing to keep the main core intact. They had to buy out Dan Girardi’s contract to be able to ink top defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for four years from free agency. New York’s defensive core is slowly aging as most of them are soon hitting their 30s. Alain Vigneault could see himself fired if he doesn’t get his hands on the Stanley Cup soon.
4. John Cooper – Coach of the Tampa Lightning
It’s too early to speculate in Cooper’s case, but he is now entering his sixth year with the Tampa Bay Lightning. General manager Steve Yzerman has been working hard the last couple of years to give the coach great assets for success. Unsurprisingly, Tampa had missed the playoffs last year as the roster was deeply affected by injuries. The team looked completely lost as soon as they lost their captain Steven Stamkos. Now that this is something of the past, Coach Cooper has a massive opportunity.
Also, what really could allow this franchise to have success is the fact they did put their trust in the young goaltender Andrei Vasilevski. The latter is motivated as he has been waiting for that opportunity. Further, young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev has made the team’s top four pairings. This should add more speed to their defensive core compared to the past couple of years. In conclusion, if John Cooper fails to give this team a deep playoff run, it will at least launch the impatience in terms of the team’s management.
5. Joel Quenneville – Coach of the Chicago Blackhawks
Some might argue about this one but, one thing is for sure, general manager Stan Bowman has shown his dissatisfaction concerning the team’s early exit last season. He also showed that he doesn’t shy away from pulling the trigger in order to bring the team back to the top. He traded his best left-winger Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad throughout the offseason. Only time will tell if it was a beneficial trade for the Blackhawks. Joel Quenneville could expect the same treatment if the scenario happens again this season. Especially considering the fact that the franchise has suffered two consecutive early playoff exits.
This year, they still have a very competitive team. The Blackhawks have some new faces on the back end such as Connor Murphy and Michal Kempny. Also, they have rookie Alex Debrincat who proved to be an excellent goalscorer in juniors, and the return of veteran Patrick Sharp. With that being said, coach Quenneville has the constant pressure to bring this team to the finals. If not, the Blackhawks won’t shy away from looking for someone else to do the job.