It is not a good time to be a coach in the NHL. Six coaches have been fired from their posts this season and it's only December. Davis Payne was the first. He was followed in quick succession by Bruce Boudreau in Washington, Paul Maurice in Carolina and Randy Carlyle in Anaheim. Terry Murray in Los Angeles and Paul Martin in Montreal were let go slightly over two weeks ago within five days of each other.
Even with six coaches biting the dust already, there are at least seven more that could be on the chopping block sooner or later. Plenty of teams are struggling, and their coaches have some reason to be worried.
Who are they? Let's find out.
Team's Record: 19-18-1
Team's Place in Standings: 21st
After a great start, the Colorado Avalanche have started to falter. They may still be over .500, but they have fallen out of a playoff spot and if Colorado continues to lose, something will need to be done. Their coach, Joe Sacco, might just be the unfortunate victim.
The Avs have a nice young core that isn't going anywhere. Paul Stastny is a player that might be moved by the trade deadline, but there isn't many players that Colorado would be willing to move. That being said, if things don't turn around in Denver soon, Sacco could be on his way out.
Team's Record: 14-16-7
Team's Record since Hiring: 1-4-0
Team's Place in Standings: 24th
Stepping into the firestorm that is Montreal's bench, Randy Cunneyworth has taken a lot of heat because he doesn't know the French language. It also didn't help matters that it took him five games to get his first win as head coach.
It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Cunneyworth will not be the Habs' coach for long. There has been too much backlash to his hiring and the way Montreal lets the media and their government control them, it's just a matter of time before Cunneyworth is gone. Anyone got Patrick Roy's number?
Team's Record: 15-17-3
Team's Place in Standings: 25th
In the same boat as the Colorado Avalanche, the Edmonton Oilers have slowed down after a terrific start. While really nothing was expected out of the Oilers this season, the good start has led some to be disappointed at the state of the team now.
Tom Renney might have the best job security out of all the coaches on this list for that reason. If the Oilers end up making the playoffs, that's great, but if they don't, it's just another year in the rebuild. Next year, however, could be a different story.
Team's Record: 12-20-6
Team's Record since Hiring: 3-8-2
Team's Place in Standings: 27th
The Carolina Hurricanes are an enigma. The talent they have on their team suggests that the team should be much closer to the playoffs. However, Eric Staal is having an off-year, Jeff Skinner is out with a concussion and Cam Ward and Brian Boucher have allowed a league-leading 127 goals get past them. That has put the 'Canes where they are.
Paul Maurice has already lost his job in Carolina, leading to the hiring of Kirk Muller. They haven't done much better with him, so it might be time to make a big move. GM Jim Rutherford insists he's not trading Staal, but evidence suggests that something must be done.
Team's Record: 11-17-6
Team's Place in Standings: 28th
The New York Islanders have a nice, young developing team, but they still can't seem to break through into contention for the playoffs. They have a league-worst 77 goals for, which is unacceptable when you have player like John Tavares on your team. He should be making his teammates better, and he should be getting more feeds from his linemates.
There's no way that the Islanders will get rid of any of their young stars, so if things get any worse on Long Island, Jack Capuano will be the scapegoat.
Team's Record: 10-19-6
Team's Record since Hiring: 3-6-2
Team's Place in Standings: 29th
Not much has changed for Bruce Boudreau, other than the arena he coaches in during home games. He's gone from a struggling Washington Capitals team to a team that's struggling even more in the Anaheim Ducks.
It has only been 11 games since Boudreau's hiring, so one has to wonder: How long will it be before GM Bob Murray considers trading one of his stars?
Team's Record: 9-22-5
Team's Place in Standings: 30th
I just have one question: How on earth can a coach of a team that has only nine wins on the season out of 36 games still be employed?
I understand that the Columbus Blue Jackets have had their fair share of injuries, but it's baffling that Scott Arniel still has his job. They still had Ken Hitchcock under contract and could have brought him back as head coach. Now he's in St. Louis, so Columbus would have to look elsewhere.
You know, some of the things that happen in the NHL I just can't understand, and this one of them.