One of the least secure jobs in sports is that of an NHL head coach. In the past year, 13 of the 32 NHL teams have replaced their head coach. And, if you go back two years, the number is 21 teams. The only current teams who have been able to keep a head coach for at least five years are the Colorado Avalanche (Jared Bednar), Pittsburgh Penguins (Mike Sullivan), and Tampa Bay Lightning (Jon Cooper). Despite the general rate of head coach turnover, there are some franchises that replace their head coaches more often on average than others. Here are 3 NHL teams who can’t keep a head coach.
3 NHL Teams Who Can’t Keep a Head Coach
Welcome to South Florida, Coach! 🤝 pic.twitter.com/vmb0cMySBP
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) June 23, 2022
There have been 28 NHL seasons since the Florida Panthers joined the NHL in 1993. Over those 28 seasons, the Cats have had 18 different head coaches. This means that the average Panthers coach has only had his job for 121 games.
The two longest-serving head coaches for Florida were Jacques Martin and Peter DeBoer, both of whom coached for 246 games. Meanwhile, John Torchetti had the shortest tenure at just 27 games. Though it was Doug MacLean who led the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, it was their most recently departed head coach Andrew Brunette who arguably had the best record with the team, leading them to a regular season points percentage of 72.0% while being nominated for the Jack Adams Award. Paul Maurice was hired in June to be the next head coach of the Panthers.
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils have been a part of the NHL longer than the Panthers (they joined the league in 1982) and have had the same number of different head coaches, so they have kept their head coaches longer, right? Well, not quite.
Despite only having had 18 DIFFERENT head coaches, they have had multiple head coaches be the head coach of the team multiple times. The Devils have had 25 coaching changes over their 39 seasons – an average of 116 games per coaching change. The longest stretch of games for any one coach was Jacques Lemaire, who coached 378 games between 1993 and 1998 (he also coached 131 more games over two more stints with the team).
Lemaire won the Jack Adams Award with the Devils in 1994 and was also the head coach when New Jersey won their first Stanley Cup in 1995. The shortest head coach stretch for the Devils was three when Lou Lamoriello named himself the interim head coach with three games left in the 2006-2007 season. Lindy Russ is the current head coach of the Devils, and has had his job since July 2020.
Vegas Golden Knights
It seems almost unfair to include the Vegas Golden Knights in this list considering how young the franchise is. However, it is the fact that the team is so new that makes how fast they have been going through head coaches so ridiculous.
Despite only having existed for five seasons, the Knights are already on their third head coach. Gerard Gallant was impressive as Vegas’ first head coach, winning the Jack Adams Award in 2018, leading the team to the Stanley Cup finals in their first season, and having a regular season points percentage of 60.1%.
Peter DeBoer was arguably even more impressive; his points percentage was 65.0%. However, neither was able to lead the team to a Stanley Cup win, and that is, apparently, enough for both of them to lose their jobs after three or fewer seasons each. Good luck to Bruce Cassidy who was hired as the new head coach for the 2022-23 season.