Memo to NHL coaches: You’re fired!!

The number of firings that have taken place in the NHL this season would make Donald Trump envious. Seven head coaches have left the board room unemployed, including three in the last month from preseason Stanley Cup contending teams.

The purge began on February 2, as the Pittsburgh Penguins fired Michel Therrien only months after he took them to a Stanley Cup final. He paid the price for management’s inability to keep the supporting cast that had surrounded talented young superstars like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury. It was inevitable that Therrien would become the fall guy, as the Pens have fallen to 10th place in the Eastern Conference and out of the playoff hunt.

The New York Rangers had lost 10 of their last 12 games and fell to sixth place in the Eastern Conference; just two points separated them from missing the playoffs completely. Management felt this underachieving team needed a kick in the butt and hired John Tortorella to replace Tom Renney as head coach. His excitable personality will challenge everyone on the roster to play to their potential and he’ll hold them accountable for their on-ice decisions.

The Montreal Canadiens’ 100th anniversary season was supposed to a year of celebration that would culminate with a Stanley Cup victory. Instead, it has been a nightmare that cost Guy Carbonneau his job earlier this week. Canadiens GM Bob Gainey felt the team needed to get better defensively and cut down the number of shots allowed in their zone.

This is the last, desperate move by teams that had high aspirations at the beginning of the season and are now struggling just to stay in the playoff race. Their only hope is for a mid-season coaching change to ignite a second-half resurgence. Each team’s performance has been below par for the majority of the season.

There is a fine line between success and failure in the business world and sometimes calculated moves do not work out the way they were intended. The one thing that Therrien, Renney and Carbonneau had in common were they were let go after recent success in the NHL. But hey, that’s the sports business today.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Calgary Flames burn out phone lines at NHL trade deadline

This was a strange NHL trading deadline. I was a little disappointed in the lack of big name players changing uniforms. In total, 22 trades (involving 47 players) were completed. And the biggest name that was traded (Olli Jokinen) has never played in a playoff game in his 10-year career.

The Calgary Flames became a legitimate contender in the Western Conference after acquiring D Jordan Leopold from the Colorado Avalanche and Jokinen from the Phoenix Coyotes in separate deadline deals. Leopold is a great fit that could make their backline the most imposing in the league. Jokinen played his best hockey under current Flames coach Mike Keenan during their time together in Florida. He is a great scorer but not a great on-ice leader, though Calgary offers him a fresh start. It’s a veteran squad that will not ask Jokinen to provide leadership in the locker room, just puckss in the net.

A nice day’s work for Coyote GM Don Maloney, as his agenda yesterday was to cut payroll…

Read the rest after the jump...

NHL Trade Deadline: Deal or no deal?

With hours remaining before the NHL’s trading deadline at 3 PM (ET) today, hockey fans want to know…

Who’s buying?

Who’s selling?

Who’s going to be traded?

Rumors are running rampant, and it’s very hard to distinguish fact from fiction. 25 of 30 teams in the league have a realistic shot of making the playoffs, and nine of them are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. You can expect a number of trades today, as a combined 50 deals were executed at the trade deadline in the past two years.

Here are six likely candidates:

Chris Pronger – D, Anaheim Ducks
His immediate impact as an offensive defenseman could be very beneficial to any team that would acquire him. The Ducks are looking to make a major roster overhaul this off-season, and cannot afford to keep Pronger’s large contract ($6.25 million) on the cap next season. He is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) after the 2009-10 season.

Read the rest after the jump...

Tampa Bay is no longer Melrose’s place

A coaching change that occurred over the weekend that made me scratch my head. The Tampa Bay Lightning fired Barry Melrose after only four months on the job and replaced him on an interim basis with Rick Tocchet.

Last summer, the franchise was purchased by a Hollywood movie management group last summer that gained success by producing the Saw franchise. Their main acquisition of the off-season was hiring Melrose to lead the team back into Stanley Cup contention, but the Lightning have been plagued by inconsistent and lackluster play all season.

In his press release, Lightning general manager Brian Lawton felt a coaching change was needed due to concerns about what direction the team was headed under Melrose. The team is built with an explosive offense featuring high-scoring forwards but have netted a league-worst 33 goals thus far this season and are currently floundering in 13th place of a 15-team Eastern Conference. Also, Lawton was displeased with the lack of playing time given to the league’s 2008 #1-overall draft choice Steven Stamkos, who was averaging a little over 11 minutes of ice-time under Melrose and was recently taken off the power-play unit. Still, to be judged after 16 games is a harsh reality for a new coach, as Melrose had to implement a new system and integrate 14 new players into the lineup.

Tocchet is a former NHL player with over 400 goals and a well-respected assistant coach with prior stops in Colorado and Phoenix. Lawton praised his approach to teaching hockey in a very structured and organized manner. But Tocchet does come with some baggage; he pleaded guilty to running a sports gambling ring in 2007.

Lawton wants to meet with the players to give them a direct explanation on the coaching change and discuss the future direction of the team’s management group.

News from the rink

Chelios: Def Leppard dissed the Stanley Cup
Do not invite Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios and Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott to the same party because the gloves will come off.

Chelios accused Elliott of disrespecting the Stanley Cup during the band’s performance at the “NHL Face-Off Rocks” show at a Detroit concert venue last week. During the show’s encore, Elliott saluted the sport by holding the Cup over his head the same way that the players do after winning the Stanley Cup, and then placed the trophy upside down on the stage.

Backstage observers said that Elliott was in a bad mood all evening and seemed like he wanted to be elsewhere. Some thought his actions on stage were Elliott’s way of taking his frustrations out on the NHL.

Chelios promises he will get even for the honor of the league.

Now, that will be a show.

League braces for an economic storm
The country’s struggling economy isn’t good for anyone, but NHL officials are bracing for one or two Southern-based franchises to look at moving to thriving hockey markets due to the weakening economic climate.

Team executives are concerned that the mess on Wall Street will likely have a direct effect on sales to fans and corporate sponsors this season. If revenues go down, the NHL salary cap will likely decrease by as much as 15 percent (or $8 million) per team.

The cap requires management to make tough decisions and improve their talent evaluation process. The impact of the economic crisis could be felt throughout the NHL for as long as five to 10 years.

Blackhawks fire Denis Savard
The first NHL coach was let go after only four games and just hours after his team’s first victory of the season. The Chicago Blackhawks fired Denis Savard on Thursday and replaced him with Joel Quenneville.

Savard’s plan was to improve on what the young Blackhawk team accomplished last season, hoping to become a playoff contender this season. But he will not get that chance, as general manager Dale Tallon phoned him on Thursday morning with the team’s decision.

Rocky Wirtz took over the day-to-day operations of the team following last year’s death of his father, Bill Wirtz. He made a pledge to the fans this off-season to have the Blackhawks back in the playoffs and he hopes to eventually win a Stanley Cup.

The Chicago media is speculating that Wirtz felt all along that he needed someone else behind the bench. Quenneville will bring a wealth of experience and a winning track record that could have an immediate impact on the young team.

Related Posts