Five NHL coaches in the hot seat this season

There will be several coaches on the hot seat once the puck drops on the 2016/17 NHL season as club owners will be expecting a lot from them. There will also be several other head coaches who will be given a little leeway since they’ll be taking over new teams and the expectations may not be as high. For example rookie coaches Glen Gulutzan of the Calgary Flames and Jared Bednar of the Colorado Avalanche will be given some time to get their feet wet while veteran bench bosses such as Randy Carlyle and Bruce Boudreau may also be given a grace period with their respective new clubs the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild.

The coaches with the most pressure on them will be those returning to their teams after disappointing and underachieving regular-season and/or postseason campaigns in 2015/16. We’ll take a look at five coaches who will be depended upon to produce better results for their respective franchises this year.

Michel Therrien
Montreal Canadiens’ coach Michel Therrien placed himself in the hot seat in the offseason and buckled the seatbelt after he influenced the trade that sent Norris Trophy winning defenceman and fan favourite P.K. Subban packing. Subban was shipped to the Nashville Predators for fellow blueliner Shea Weber after Montreal missed the playoffs and most fans were up in arms over the deal. It’s well known that Subban wasn’t one of Therrien’s favourites and was often the team’s scapegoat following big losses. If the Habs fail to improve with Weber in the lineup and all-star goaltender Carey Price back in net after missing most of last year with an injury, then Therrien may be the next one packing his suitcase.

Claude Julien
Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins became an overnight sensation back in 2010/11 when he led the team to its first Stanley Cup in 39 years and then took them back to the final two years later. He’s won the Jack Adams award in Beantown and is now the franchise’s all-time leader in coaching wins. However, the Bruins have watched the playoffs on TV for the last two seasons as they’ve fallen just short of making them. Fans and ownership won’t sit idly by if it looks like Boston is about to miss out on playoff action for a third straight year. It’s probably safe to say Julien’s job will be up for grabs if his squad falls out of the playoff this season.

Darryl Sutter
Los Angeles Kings’ head coach Darryl Sutter has been quite successful during his reign on the west coast with just over 60 per cent winning records in both the regular season and the playoffs. The Kings have won a pair of Stanley Cups in the past five years with Sutter at the helm, but the last two seasons have been rather quiet with a grand total of one playoff win in that period. Those Stanley Cup triumphs mean the team’s ownership and its fans expect big things from the team on a regular basis and Sutter has fallen short of that goal in the last two years. His team even managed to miss the playoffs in 2014/15, a year after winning the Cup.

Willie Desjardins
Many Vancouver Canucks’ fans point the finger at general manager Jim Benning for their team’s relative lack of success lately rather than head coach Willie Desjardins. Vancouver missed the playoffs last season, which was Desjardins’ second behind the bench, and the club had the NHL’s overall third-worst record. The only teams below them in the standings were fellow Canadian franchises Edmonton and Toronto. This came as a huge disappoint after making the playoffs the year before. With Vancouver’s star players the Sedin twins entering the twilight of their careers, the Canucks can’t afford to be on the outside looking in again in 2016/17. The window of opportunity for the Sedin’s to win a Stanley Cup is slowly closing and it’s up to Desjardins to get back in the playoffs as soon as possible.


Jeff Blashill
This is Jeff Blashill’s second full season in charge of the Detroit Red Wings after former head coach Mike Babcock bolted for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Blashill is in charge of one of the league’s most successful clubs over the past couple of decades and even though the Wings aren’t as good as they were 20 years ago, they’ve still managed to make the playoffs season after season. Much of the credit has to go to the scouting steam and general manager as Detroit always seems to draft well and attract useful free agents. However, Pavel Datsyuk has left Motor City to finish his career in his Russian homeland and Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg are getting older and dealing with injuries. The pressure is on Blashill to make the playoffs once again since he doesn’t want to become the first Red Wings’ coach to miss the postseason in the last in 26 seasons.