FRIDAY JULY 21, 2017
 
Blog THROWIN SMOKE
NHL COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT
guy-boucher-fired.jpg

Tampa Bay Lighting general manager Steve Yzerman fired coach Guy Boucher Sunday, less than 24 hours after watching his team surrender four first-period goals in a loss to Ottawa.

“I’m not satisfied with the direction our hockey club is going,” Yzerman said of the Lightning, winners of just four of their past 14 games. “I’ve noticed a difference in our play and a difference in the attitude and felt that the situation was quickly worsening and something needed to be done immediately.”

It’s tough to blame Boucher for all of Tampa’s problems – starting goalie Anders Lindback has been disappointing, there have been plenty of injuries and the team is aging and shallow – but it’s clear the players had stopped listening to the uber-intense Boucher, who was never able to replicate his rookie season in which he took the Lightning all the way to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Finals.

With Lindy Ruff fired back in February after 15 years behind the bench in Buffalo, Boucher becomes the second coach fired in the lockout-shortened NHL season, and he likely won’t be the last.

Here are five other coaches whose butts are firmly on the hot seat:

1. Joe Sacco, Avalanche

The Avs are dead last in the Western Conference and it appears the growth of the team’s young talent has stalled, as Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny all have taken backward steps in their development under Sacco. Oh sure, the team spent most of the year mired in a contract dispute with stud forward Ryan O’Reilly and bruiser Steve Downie has missed all but two games with a torn ACL, but this franchise should be better than it is, and it can’t afford to squander those young guns. GM Greg Sherman would be wise to pull the plug on Sacco sooner than later.

2. Adam Oates, Capitals

It’s hard to blame Oates for Washington’s struggles, but that’s GM George McPhee’s only legitimate alternative when deflecting the blame from himself. After an abysmal start to the season, the Capitals are actually in the playoff conversation in the Eastern Conference — no thanks to their overpaid and underachieving core of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green. The fact of the matter is that it’s time to blow up that core and roust McPhee, but because Ovechkin is such a D.C. icon, it’s more likely that owner Ted Leonsis will look to the team’s fourth coach in four years to find the secret recipe that will get these guys to play together and win. Good luck with that, Ted.

3. Todd McLellan, Sharks

McLellan has been on borrowed time for the past two seasons. The Sharks head coach since 2008, McLellan has made a career out of squandering excellent regular-season performances with spectacular playoff flameouts, and now the Sharks aren’t even getting those great regular seasons anymore. Last year, the Sharks barely even made the playoffs — and subsequently bowed out in five games to the Blues — and after starting this year 7-0 are on the playoff bubble once again. With assistant coach Larry Robinson’s multiple Stanley Cup rings glistening in GM Doug Wilson’s eyes, look for McLellan to be shown the door by summer.

4. Peter Laviolette, Flyers

The Flyers have been one of this year’s biggest disappointments, currently sitting 13th in the Eastern Conference, just three years after Laviolette took them to the Stanley Cup Finals. GM Paul Holmgren and Owner Ed Snider aren’t known for their patience, so it’s really quite a miracle that they haven’t canned Laviolette already. Lavy likes to ride his older players, which means that young stars Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Matt Read aren’t getting much ice time. No wonder the Flyers are having trouble scoring and find themselves at the bottom of the East.

5. John Tortorella, Rangers

Torts has become a media darling because of his unique candor and short-temperedness, but there’s only so many times you can throw your own players under the bus before the bus backs over you, too. Tortorella’s mind games and media callouts have alienated his players and created a toxic air in his locker room, and as a result the Rangers are on the playoff bubble despite assembling some of the game’s best talent and highest salaries. GM Glen Sather might be feeling a bit melancholy as he deals with prostate cancer, but if the Rangers don’t improve quickly, he’ll look to someone else to take this team into the playoffs.

What, no Alain Vigneault? If you’re actually listening to the rumours that the Canucks’ head coach is in trouble, give your head a shake. Vigneault has had nothing to do with Chicago and Anaheim’s success this year, the Canucks are still among the league’s elite and he just signed a contract extension. Most importantly, his players perform well under him. So no, Vigneault isn’t going anywhere.

Canucks’ GM Mike Gillis, on the other hand …

2 Comments | Add a Comment
They should have an unofficial coaches award given to the biggest flop each year......and they should name it after Billy Ray ......who coached the Black Hawk teams of the 60's. Those teams had so much talent yet Ray's poor skills as a coach found them always on the outside looking in.....I guess this is the coaches version of the Razzies
BUFFALO's LINDY RUFF OBVIOUSLY WASNT AS MUCH THE PROBLEM AS THE PLAYERS THEMSELVES,AND BOUCHER WAS NOT UP TO WEARING A NHL HAT. ANOTHER SEASON GONE EVEN THOUGH A SHORT ONE.
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