The 20 Scariest Coaches in NHL History
NHL head coaches have one of the toughest jobs in professional sports, and some of these coaches have a reputation for instilling fear and being scary.
Some coaches yell and scream, others have incidents with the media that add to the lore of their reputation and others intimidate their players.
These coaches have been both effective and ineffective at times in terms of success, but here are 20 of the scariest coaches in NHL history.
Herb Brooks was arguably one of the greatest hockey coaches in NCAA history, but his success did not translate to the NHL.
Brooks was one of the scariest coaches in history because of his practice drills known as "Herbies" and because of his no-nonsense approach to the game.
You did not want to cross Brooks because he would not hold his tongue.
Every year the NHL awards the league's top head coach with the Jack Adams Award.
Jack Adams was the long-time coach and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, and his tremendous success made him a no-brainer to be honored with this commemorative award.
Adams was an interesting individual. He was scary because of his success as a hockey executive, but also for an incident in which he punched a referee during the Stanley Cup Final.
Dale Hunter had a brief stint in the NHL as a head coach, but he is a scary individual.
Hunter is infamously known for taking out Pierre Turgeon with a cheap shot, but as a head coach, he made some bold moves.
Hunter benched Alex Ovechkin without and qualms, and that spoke to Hunter's no-nonsense approach.
He is the same way at the Junior level with the London Knights, so it shouldn't have been a surprise when he became an NHL head coach.
After watching this video, what more needs to be said about Jim Schoenfeld?
Schoenfeld was a tough-as-nails player during his NHL career, and behind the bench he was one of the toughest coaches to play for.
Simply put, as a player or opponent, you did not want to make Schoenfeld mad.
"Iron" Mike Keenan was one of the scariest head coaches in NHL history because of his antics, his personality and the way he coached his teams.
Keenan was a vocal coach who never pulled any punches, and he even made Neil Smith trade one of the New York Rangers' best players in Mike Gartner because the two never saw eye to eye.
Keenan was a scary coach to play for even if you were on his good side, so you needed to make sure you didn't do anything to get on his bad side.
Peter Laviolette is one of the greatest American-born head coaches in NHL history, and he is another coach who is scary for the amount of intensity he displays on the bench.
Players are fearful of disappointing him because he is a coach who will tell it how it is.
This clip is a great illustration of Laviolette telling it how it is to Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Marc Crawford is a coach who is one of the scariest in league history because of his alleged involvement in the Steve Moore incident.
It is unclear whether Crawford directly ordered Todd Bertuzzi to hit Moore, but as stated in the above video, he didn't help matters from behind the bench.
This one incident automatically makes Crawford one of the scariest and most despised coaches in league history because of his potential involvement in one of hockey's worst incidents to date.
Pat Burns was one of the greatest head coaches in NHL history, and he has been snubbed from the Hockey Hall of Fame for numerous years.
He was an intense head coach, and if you aren't scared from the intensity illustrated in the above video, something clearly isn't right.
If you were a Buffalo Sabre, would you be scared if you were on the ice during this moment? Lindy Ruff is an intense head coach who doesn't just take out his frustrations on referees, but his players as well.
Every hockey fan knows John Tortorella is an intense, fiery and scary head coach. Any other questions?
All kidding aside, Tortorella is only scary as a coach, but off the ice, he has a heart of gold because of his charitable work for animals.
As a writer, I am a bit scared to think what this man might do if he read this.
As the video points out, Bryan Murray didn't take too kindly to the reporter's critique of his coaching, so it is safe not to call out the current GM of the Ottawa Senators.
Hopefully Mr. Murray wouldn't find this offensive, because fear is a good way to get the best out of your players when the chips are down,
Barry Melrose hasn't had the greatest luck as an NHL head coach, and he is currently an analyst for ESPN. Melrose was known for his demanding work ethic and the fact that he asked for a lot from his players.
His dismissal from the Tampa Bay Lightning really illustrates how scary he was as a coach, because it seems like players were afraid and unwilling to play for him.
If you go on YouTube to search for head coaches melting down, flipping out or going on a rampage, Robbie Ftorek is always a popular clip.
Ftorek was a successful head coach who has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, but moments like the clip above make him a scary head coach.
Guy Boucher bears a striking resemblance to actor Guy Pearce's character in the film Lawless. If you haven't seen the film, Pearce plays a corrupt special deputy who wants a cut of money made illegally through moonshining.
This back story from the film helps add to the resemblance, and add to the mystique of Boucher and his scar.
Boucher is not scary because of this resemblance but because of his demeanor as a head coach and because of that "enigmatic scar," the origin of which is unknown to all but Boucher.
Terry O'Reilly is not only known for his fiery antics behind the bench but his rough and toughness from his playing career that included the infamous "Invasion of MSG."
In 1979, several Boston Bruins players, including O'Reilly and Mike Milbury, went into the stands and brawled with fans.
This incident is one of the most famous to date, and it makes you wonder what else O'Reilly could have been capable of?
Well, O'Reilly did punch a referee during a game, so many might wonder what would happen to a player who didn't hustle during practice.
Everyone is familiar with Mike Milbury as a general manger, analyst and as a hockey executive, but he was one of the scariest head coaches in league history.
Milbury was a fiery head coach who had storied interactions with his players and the media. He was always a coach who spoke his mind, and that might have been intimidating to some of his players.
The criteria to appear on this list is having appeared as a coach in the NHL, and although this moment was in the AHL, it illustrates why Jim Playfair was a scary and intense head coach.
He was the coach of the Calgary Flames for one season, and it is safe to assume that this intensity was present when his team didn't perform.
Although the Flames made the playoffs under Playfair, he was not retained as a head coach in the NHL.
Not only did this bench boss toss a stick at an on-ice official, he "knocked out" Doug Gilmour with a sucker punch from the bench.
There are a few videos on YouTube other than the one above, so to see this infamous stick-toss incident, fast forward to 3:05 of this video.
The incident in question landed the bench boss a 12-game suspension, one of the heftiest assigned to a head coach during that time.
There are tons of clips on YouTube of Don Cherry ranting about various things going on in the NHL, but unfortunately, there are not readily available clips from his coaching days.
"Grapes" was a tough coach who expected a lot from his players. Many of the traits he exhibits on Coach's Corner were in play during his time as the Boston Bruins' bench boss.
He likes his players to play the game hard, he liked them to hit and play smart defensively and he always wanted an honest effort from his players.
This set of expectations could make players scared of playing for him if he decided to go behind the bench in the year 2013.
Ken Hitchcock has been a scary and cerebral head coach throughout his entire career.
He is scary to other head coaches because of he analyzes the game, and he has also had his rivalries with opposing coaches like Lindy Ruff and John Tortorella.
He has a reputation for being hard on rookie players and their amount of ice time, so it is safe to say that he is a scary coach who can appear intimidating to others.
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