Predicting Which NHL Teams Will Change Coaches in the Offseason

Steven ConklinCorrespondent IIMarch 27, 2012

Predicting Which NHL Teams Will Change Coaches in the Offseason

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    There has been a flurry of coaching changes in the NHL this season, and there will certainly be some more at season's end. 

    A total of eight coaches have been fired since October, and for the most part, teams have improved under their new leaders. 

    Perhaps the biggest success story this year is the hiring of Ken Hitchcock in St. Louis. After a 6-7 start, the Blues fired Davis Payne, and under Hitch the Blues are 41-13-9. 

    Here are the four teams likely making coaching changes this summer in hopes of recreating what Hitchcock has done in St. Louis. 

Montreal Canadiens

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    The Canadiens have been a major disappointment this season and, as a result, fired Jacques Martin in December. 

    Interim coach Randy Cunneyworth was hired, much to the dismay of the Quebec government, but the team hasn't shown any improvement. 

    In fact, the team looks worse. 

    Under Cunneyworth, the Habs are 16-22-6 and hold the bottom spot in the Eastern Conference. 

    It's safe to say there will be a new suit on the Montreal bench next year. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the worst team in the NHL and this summer will get worse with the inevitable departure of star Rick Nash. 

    In January, Columbus fired coach Scott Arniel and promoted assistant Todd Richards. 

    Since, the Blue Jackets have somewhat improved but were already so deep in the West's hole that it doesn't matter much. 

    Under Richards, the Jackets are 13-20-2. 

    With the franchise overhaul, it is likely a new coach will be brought in to lead the young team. 

Washington Capitals

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    It was surprising when the Washington Capitals fired Bruce Boudreau, even with the Alexander Ovechkin problems.

    Dale Hunter was hired in his place and since the Caps are 26-21-7, but in reality the improvement seems to be due to Washington's underachievers actually performing well. 

    Hunter could keep his job with a playoff appearance, but with the roster he has the Capitals shouldn't be fighting for the eighth seed. 

    A coaching change is likely to come again in Washington.

Calgary Flames

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    There is a very good chance that for the third straight season under Brent Sutter, the Calgary Flames will not see the postseason. 

    If that happens, don't be surprised if a coaching change is made in Calgary. 

    The Flames are really in need of a rebuild as most of their players are veterans, and they have the weakest prospect pool in hockey. 

    A fresh start, new coach and direction could help the Flames be relevant again.

    And Sutter doesn't have his brother Darryl Sutter in the front office anymore after Darryl took the Los Angeles coaching job. 

    That could really help Brent become one of the unemployed this summer. 

    Steven Conklin joined Bleacher Report in October 2011. He is a student at the University of Central Missouri and a B/R Intern. Any comments, suggestions or questions are welcomed.