4 NHL Teams That Wish They Could Fire Their Team, but Keep Their Coach
When an NHL team struggles and fails to meet expectations, the head coach is usually the man who takes the blame and loses his job.
Rarely do the underperforming players get traded or released, even though they are normally the ones most to blame when a team loses consistently.
However, there are instances when a team has the right coach, but not the right players for his style of play.
Let's look at four NHL teams that wish they could fire their team, but keep their head coach.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a good head coach with Stanley Cup-winning experience in Randy Carlyle. But he does not have the right kind of players to fit the physical style of hockey that his teams normally thrive in.
One of the surprises of the summer has been general manager Brian Burke’s lack of aggressiveness in free agency and in the trade market.
Without a top-six power forward who can affect games physically and be a factor offensively, the Leafs will continue to struggle in a very competitive and improved Northeast Division going into next season.
San Jose Sharks
Coaching is not the reason why the core group of veterans on the San Jose Sharks—such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dan Boyle—have repeatedly failed to win the the Stanley Cup over the last five to seven seasons.
Todd McLellan is a strong head coach and is quite capable of leading a team to a championship. He just doesn't have the kind of players you need to win big games in the playoffs.
No matter how good of a coach you are, it's going to be tough to win a Stanley Cup when your best players are guys like Patrick Marleau, who, time and time again, fail to play at an elite level during the playoffs.
As long as Thornton and Marleau are leading the team, San Jose's roster won't be good enough to compete for the Stanley Cup next year or into the future.
This is a situation where it's the players who are at fault and should be replaced, not the head coach.
Columbus Blue Jackets
In the case of the Columbus Blue Jackets, it's unlikely that any notable player will want to sign with them in free agency when the franchise is in such disarray. This situation makes it difficult for the team to get rid of any important players on the roster since adding players from outside the organization will be hard to do.
The general manager and the majority of the team's players gave subpar performances last season. But with young head coach Todd Richards entering his first full season with the team, there is reason to have a little optimism surrounding the Blue Jackets going into the fall.
Richards took over for the Blue Jackets last season after Scott Arniel was fired in January. He led the team to a respectable 18-21-2 record despite the trade distractions involving former captain Rick Nash.
Now that the Calgary Flames have an experienced head coach with Stanley Cup experience in Bob Hartley, making the playoffs next season is a very realistic possibility.
Hartley won the 2001 Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche and even led the Atlanta Thrashers to their first Southeast Division title in 2007.
However, it could be difficult for Hartley to lead the Flames back to the playoffs when he has a roster of players who are either overpaid, overrated or past their prime.
Unless Jay Bouwmeester, Jiri Hudler, Dennis Wideman and aging captain Jarome Iginla live up to their large salaries, this team will once again miss the playoffs and face another offseason in which the debate to rebuild or not will come up again.
The Flames should "fire" several of the players on their team by trading them away before next year's trade deadline. But if that was the plan of the franchise, Hartley probably would not have taken the job. Nevertheless, it's going to be a very interesting season in Calgary.