Awhile back I unveiled the Coach Incompetence Advisory System, as a public service to all the folks out there in our great nation. Now, more than ever, we must be vigilant and aware of what is going on in the world around us. We cannot walk around waiting for the next NHL coach to get the axe. We must take action! Our national security depends on it! We must be vigilant and stand up for our right to have inconsequential water cooler talk during coach firing season! To
terrify inform you, I have devised a color-coded system which will help guide you in this time of need. The detailed breakdown of each threat level can be seen here.
Anyway. On to the water cooler talk.
Before the season, I took a look at the coaches who were on the hot seat to begin with. All of those guys still have their jobs, while other folks have lost their jobs since then. Atlanta and Washington have both made coaching changes, in part because of poor starts, by getting rid of Bob Hartley and Glen Hanlon respectively. Being that we're a few months into this darned thing called the regular season, it's probably about time we took another look at whom will be getting hit by the proverbial axe and whom is safe for the time being.
Paul Maurice, Toronto Maple Leafs
WARNING: Threat level upgraded to Lamoriello
Maurice started the season at "Lewis" thanks to missing out on the playoffs last season. In the first two months this year, things have gone much worse than expected in Toronto, forcing me to upgrade the situation to the highest threat level, "Lamoriello." The Maple Leafs are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and find themselves 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. To add to that, they've surrendered the most goals in the entire NHL. Maurice bought himself some time by beating the rival Ottawa Senators 3-0 on Saturday night, but things aren't looking good. Their upcoming schedule provides the team a break, as all but one of their next six games are against teams ranked 8th or lower in their conference. If the Leafs stumble through this stretch, I wouldn't be surprised to see management cut Maurice loose in the hopes that a fresh face can salvage the season.
Brent Sutter, New Jersey Devils
WARNING: Threat level upgraded to Keenan
My gut tells me that Sutter is going to get a fair shake in New Jersey. He seems like a smart enough guy so that he wouldn't come all the way across the continent for anything less. On the other hand, my brain tells me that I can't ignore the facts. (1) The Devils are horrid and currently share 12 place in the East and the Atlantic Division basement with the Penguins. (2) They're a meager 3-4-0 at home and, oh yeah, (3) Lou Lamoriello is still in charge. RIght now I imagine that Lou's trigger finger would itch less if he took a bath in itching powder.
Wayne Gretzky, Phoenix Coyotes
WARNING: Threat level upgraded to Keenan
At some point, someone is going to have to take the fall for the failure that is the Phoenix Coyotes. Once again the Coyotes find themselves in the early hunt for a lottery pick, holding up the 13th spot in the West. It's hard to think they would fire The Great One, but there's no bones about the fact that he hasn't gotten results. In his defense, he hasn't been given much to work with either.
Craig McTavish, Edmonton Oilers
Threat level: Milbury
McTavish is in his eighth year as Oilers head coach and the second year of a four year contract. Despite the Oilers' abysmal play, I don't think his job is in serious jeopardy unless something comes down from the top of the organization. McTavish still has two years left on his contract, and with GM Kevin Lowe getting a contract extension in the off-season, Lowe isn't likely to pull the trigger himself. This isn't a team that's vastly underachieving, either. They were supposed to be bad this year. For now, McTavish's job is safe.
Michel Therrien, Pittsburgh Penguins
Therrien is in his third season behind the bench in Pittsbugh (second full season), and the Penguins are, unlike the Oilers, vastly underachieving. Last year, this team finished 5th in the East and three points away from a division title. Right now, they share the Atlantic's basement with New Jersey and are 12th in the conference. They had a big win tonight against the Ottawa Senators in a shootout, but had been 2-8-1 during the previous ten games. All this is coming with a roster that is virtually identical to last season's roster. What's the worst part about all this for Therrien? The Penguins have a long history of having a short leash with coaches, and Therrien is at about the same point that his predecessors Ed Olczyk and Rick Kehoe were let go. This may happen in a matter of weeks, but if the Pens continue to slide, it will only be a matter of days.