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NHL's Top 5 Toughest Coaching Jobs This Season

Ben LippelContributor IIIJanuary 4, 2017

NHL's Top 5 Toughest Coaching Jobs This Season

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    “Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing. The result." Vince Lombardi

    Words of wisdom from one of the legendary figures in all of professional sports.

    Words of wisdom from a man who put more passion, persistence and preparation into his line of work than any of his peers.

    Words of wisdom that also apply to every coach in the National Hockey League.

    The pressure is always on for the men who steer these ships. And for good reason. They are expected to produce results. But there are times when they don't exactly love their personnel. Former Vancouver Canucks coach Harry Neale once said:

    ”I know my players don't like my practices, but that's OK because I don't like their games.”

    With Neale's thoughts in mind, all 30 NHL clubs have their issues heading into the upcoming season. Some squads, however, will be tougher to coach than others. And the men who lead these teams have everyone from the owners to the fans watching their every move.

    So who are the five bench bosses that will have the toughest job of living up to coach Lombardi's classic quote?

    Read on to find out. 

Can He Help the Kings Follow Up with Another Cup?

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    Darryl Sutter had an unforgettable 2011-2012 season.

    On December 17, 2011, the Los Angeles Kings hired him as head coach after Terry Murray got the ax just six days before. 

    Sutter led the Kings to a 25-13-11 mark in 49 games, finished third in the Pacific Division, and entered the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Not exactly the best place to be for playoff positioning. 

    Or so you would think.

    Under Sutter's guidance, the boys from L.A. beat the 1st seed Vancouver Canucks, 2nd seed St. Louis Blues, and 3rd seed Phoenix Coyotes to win the West. Then, they defeated the New Jersey Devils in six games to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. And they did it with a remarkable 16-4 post-season record.

    Impressive? No doubt.

    Now, what can Sutter do for an encore? With players such as Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Mike Richards, this team is capable of going deep once again.

    However, it's incredibly tough to keep a team motivated the season after they've hoisted the Holy Grail. And there hasn't been a repeat Stanley Cup winner since the Detroit Red Wings in 1996-97 and 1997-98. 

    For the Kings to remain on their throne, Sutter is going to have to push all the right buttons.

    Before you go to the next slide, here's a recap of the King's royal run, courtesy of ESPN's Arash Markazi.

Can He Fulfill Big Expectations in the Big Apple?

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    John Tortorella knows what it takes to guide a team to the Stanley Cup.

    In 2004, he took the Tampa Bay Lightning to the promised land, as they beat the Calgary Flames in a thrilling seven-game series to capture the silver chalice.

    Now, as bench boss of the New York Rangers, he runs a team that lost in last year's Eastern Conference Finals but won the Rick Nash sweepstakes over the summer.

    Plus, with returning players such as Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist, this team is loaded up for another long playoff run.

    So can the temperamental Tortorella guide the Broadway Blueshirts to the six more wins they need to capture the franchise's first title since 1994? 

    We'll see if hockey's ultimate taskmaster is up to the task.

Can He Instill Belief in the Leafs?

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    Randy Carlyle has been here before.

    The former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman is now the man—the bench boss of this proud but underachieving Original Six franchise.

    Carlyle won a Stanley Cup as the head man with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

    Now, it's up to him to take this Leafs team, with players such as Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and James Reimer, back to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

    Leafs Nation and Brian Burke will be watching.

    Intently.

Can He Turn the Hab Nots into the Habs?

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    Michel Therrien is the new sheriff in town. And Montreal Canadiens fans want him to lay down the law.

    In a hurry.

    New General Manager Mark Bergevin brought him in to take players such as Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta back to the postseason. Not making the playoffs in Montreal is not good enough for a team that has won the Stanley Cup a record 24 times.

    No more Hab Nots, right coach Therrien?

Can He Strike Oil with All That Young Talent?

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    Ralph Krueger could be sitting on a pot of gold. Liquid gold that is.

    The rookie bench general of the Edmonton Oilers has a ton of young talent to work with, such as, Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz.

    That's not too shabby a roster for Mr. Krueger to work with.

    And get this, he also happens to be a motivational speaker and author. Let's see if he can use his powers of persuasion and his love of the written word to get this baby oil rig heading in the right direction.  

    Now, get ready for the bonus slide: This coaching assignment was so tough, it took three men to finish the job.

    Keep clicking to find out more. 

To the Fans of This Expansion Franchise, It Was Capital Punishment

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    The Washington Capitals didn't have the best of starts as a franchise.

    Their inaugural season (1974-75) was dreadful, even by measly expansion standards. They finished 8–67–5, and their 21 points were a mere half that of their expansion counterparts that season, the Kansas City Scouts.

    The Caps' .131 winning percentage for that miserable campaign is still the worst in NHL history. They were so bad on the road, they lost 39 out of 40 road games, which included an incredulous 37 consecutive losses.

    One man couldn't handle this job alone.

    Jim Anderson, Red Sullivan and Hockey Hall of Fame member Milt Schmidt all took turns at the controls of this train wreck.

    And that was Capital punishment, indeed.

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