Montreal head coach Guy Carbonneau is the latest coach to get hit with the great wildfire of justice sweeping even the NHL’s elite teams. This season the trend though has been a mainly eastern phenomenon with 6 of the 15 teams making changes at the head coaching position since the season. The lone western supporter of the fad sweeping the hockey nation seems to be the Chicago Blackhawks that started the whole thing back in October. Eastern teams that noticed the success that Chicago had after switching out Savard decided to do the same in order to inspire their teams to play better.
What’s even more odd about the trend is that many of the coaches fired belong to bubble teams or playoff bound teams. Chicago comfortably sits in the 4th position in the western playoff picture while the eastern teams still involved in the playoff hunt, Montreal, New York, Pittsburgh, and Carolina dot spaces ranging from 5th to 9th in the east.
Chicago Blackhawks (October 2008)
- OUT: Dennis Savard
- IN: Joel Quenneville
Tampa Bay Lightning (November 2008)
- OUT: Barry Melrose
- IN: Rick Tocchet
Carolina Hurricanes (December 2008)
- OUT: Peter Laviolette
- IN: Paul Maurice
Ottawa Senators (February 2009)
- OUT: Craig Hartsburg
- IN: Cory Clouston
Pittsburgh Penguins (February 2009)
- OUT: Michel Therrien
- IN: Dan Bylsma
New York Rangers (February 2009)
- OUT: Tom Renney
- IN: John Tortorella
Montreal Canadiens (March 2009)
- OUT: Guy Carbonneau
- IN: Bob Gainey
So where do we go from here? The Canadiens are in their 100th season with a strong team that continues to underachieve. The Rangers are an offensively deficient team with gigantic contracts. The Penguins have struggled all season to find support for Malkin and Crosby though they may have recently found it with the acquisition of Chris Kunitz before the trade deadline from Anaheim. The Hurricanes threw a huge contract at Eric Staal expecting him to lead the team, but he has struggled until recently. To contend with them are more than just the Boston Bruins who sit almost untouchable in first place. The Devils have gotten Brodeur back and are hotter than any team in the NHL. Washington and Philadelphia continue to play well going into the stretch. Then you have teams surging in the midst of all of this coaching chaos such as the Florida Panthers who look poised to shoot up to the 5th spot should Montreal’s late season change not produce the results they hope for. Underneath them all is Buffalo who has had injuries to their two biggest players Vanek and Miller going into the final stretch of this season long marathon.
So who will it be? Some new coaches will be making the postseason in the east. How will they perform? No one knows where this is going, but the hockey world is curious to see if any of these coaching changes will result in a Stanley Cup. It’s not going to be easy against the top four in the east who have been steadily rolling along all season.