3 Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2022-23

If an NHL team isn’t living up to expectations, there’s a good chance that the coach is to blame. Or at least, they’re the person that takes the fall for the team’s lackluster performance.

Recently, we’ve seen the last-place Montreal Canadiens part ways with Dominique Ducharme after he led the team to the Stanley Cup Final the year prior. Additionally, the Edmonton Oilers opted to fire the reputable Dave Tippett with his team underperforming.

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Ducharme and Tippett are far from the first coaches to be anointed scapegoat status – and far from the last. In fact, a few more coaches could be gone before the end of the 2022-23 season. Let’s take a look at three coaches who are on the proverbial hot seat.

Craig Berube – St. Louis Blues

When Berube was tapped to be the Blues’ interim coach in 2019, it was due to a talented team falling short of expectations under then-coach Mike Yeo. So it’s ironic that he now finds himself on the hot seat three years later in a very similar situation. 

Craig Berube St. Louis Blues
Craig Berube, Head Coach of the St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Berube’s Blues have been a streaky team so far this season. They opened the 2022-23 season with three wins, then lost their next eight (all in regulation), before winning their next seven games. And they’ve pretty much been a .500 team since.

Part of this can be blamed on the subpar goaltending of Jordan Binnington. But then again, the Blues are underperforming all over the ice. Ryan O’Reilly and Colton Parayko have been shells of themselves this season. The penalty kill has been abysmal as well.

So what’s next for the Blues? Could they move on from Berube and opt for a fresh voice to turn things around? Assistant coach Steve Ott would be a solid candidate if the Blues decide to make a change, especially with Craig MacTavish in the coaches room to guide the up-and-coming skipper.

Dallas Eakins – Anaheim Ducks

No one expected the Ducks to be at the top of the Pacific Division this year. But one would imagine a team with Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, Mason McTavish, and John Gibson could manage more than three regulation wins before the New Year. Sure, injuries to Gibson, Jamie Drysdale, and others have been major blockers, but this team is capable of more.

Dallas Eakins Anaheim Ducks
Dallas Eakins, head coach of the Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Now in his fourth season with the Ducks, Eakins has yet to reach the playoffs. Considering the current state of the team, it’s reasonable to assume Anaheim will miss the postseason yet again. 

The Ducks are rebuilding, so missing out on the playoffs is expected. But if you’re going to miss the postseason, internal development needs to be prioritized. General manager Pat Verbeek is keenly aware of this. And Verbeek may prefer to hire his own coach – someone who can ice a competitive team night after night, while teaching players the right way to win. So far, Eakins isn’t making a great case that he’s that guy.

D.J. Smith – Ottawa Senators

Thus far, the Senators haven’t lived up to preseason expectations. When you add Claude Giroux, Alex DeBrincat, and Cam Talbot to a young, talented roster, it’s assumed that the collective will perform well. That just hasn’t been the case.

Given the ownership situation, I’d have to imagine Smith is safe for now. But there’s always a chance that new owners decide to clean house and hire a handpicked GM, who then handpicks a new coach.

Other Coaches with Warm Seats

  • Paul Maurice (Florida Panthers) – Injuries aside, the Panthers have underperformed with Maurice at the helm. You have to wonder if Andrew Brunette would have been a better fit long term in Sunrise.
  • Sheldon Keefe (Toronto Maple Leafs) – If the Maple Leafs suffer another early playoff exit, GM Kyle Dubas—who’s in the final year of his contract—may not be retained. If that’s the case, Keefe may be replaced as well.