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Power Ranking Each NHL Coach

Brad KurtzbergContributor IJanuary 10, 2013

Power Ranking Each NHL Coach

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    They say coaches are hired to be fired, but few people doubt the importance of coaching in the National Hockey League.

    Just look at the St. Louis Blues last season. The club looked very average until they hired Ken Hitchcock in mid-November, and then they went on to finish second in the Western Conference and third overall in the league.

    Here is a look at the 30 NHL coaches, ranking them from 30 up till one. Feel free to comment if you agree or if you disagree, but please say why you feel a particular coach should be higher or lower.

Adam Oates, Washington Capitals

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    It's tough to rank Adam Oates since the Hockey Hall of Famer has yet to coach a game in the NHL.

    It is expected that Oates will emphasize offense more than Dale Hunter did in Washington. Last year, Oates served as an assistant with the Devils and helped the team reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Ralph Krueger, Edmonton Oilers

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    Ralph Krueger served as associate coach in Edmonton last season under Tom Renney. This year, the German-born Krueger takes over the head coaching duties on an Oilers team full of young offensive talent.

    Krueger has many of the qualities a young team needs: he takes no bull but is a good communicator and teacher.

    When the Oilers youngsters do mature, Krueger should be the beneficiary.

Todd Richards, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Todd Richards has yet to qualify for the playoffs in three seasons as an NHL coach. He had two seasons in Minnesota and part of one year with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    On the plus side, Richards managed to get some improvement out of the Jackets last year after taking over. Now that Rick Nash has been traded, however, he faces the task of rebuilding the Blue Jackets almost from scratch.

    Richards had success coaching at the AHL level and now faces an uphill fight to improve the Blue Jackets.

Kirk Muller, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Kirk Muller finally got a chance to be an NHL head coach last season when he took over in Carolina midway through the 2011-12 campaign.

    Muller seemed to re-energize the Hurricanes, and after they adjusted to his style, the club made a late-season run for a playoff spot that fell just short.

    While he is still learning on the job, many people feel Muller can become a solid NHL coach. He will certainly have more pressure to win this year with the additions of Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin to the Carolina roster.

Jack Capuano, New York Islanders

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    Jack Capuano has yet to lead the Islanders to the playoffs, but the club did receive a lift when "Cappy" took over as coach in 2010-11.

    Capuano is a players' coach who treats his team like men. He is good with younger players.

    The Isles young players need to show more development this year for this team to take the next step and how Capuano handles Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Nino Niederreiter and other young high draft picks will go a long way to determining how successful he will be as Isles coach.

Glen Gulutzan, Dallas Stars

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    Glen Gulutzan begins his second season behind the Stars bench and will be coaching a team in transition.

    The Stars are rebuilding around young forwards like Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson but have sprinkled in some veterans like Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney to keep the team competitive until their prospects are ready.

    Gulutzan has coached teams in both the ECHL and AHL to the finals and shows promise as the head man in Dallas.

Mike Yeo, Minnesota Wild

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    Mike Yeo finally got his chance to coach in the NHL last year, and after a fast start, his Wild club succumbed to injuries and inconsistency and missed the playoffs.

    Yeo coached the Houston Aeros of the AHL to the finals the year before getting the Wild job so he has coached many of Minnesota's younger players and prospects.

    With the addition of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, there is a lot of pressure on Yeo to win now.

Claude Noel, Winnipeg Jets

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    Claude Noel has won an AHL championship but now faces the prospect of rebuilding the Winnipeg Jets.

    Management is going to rebuild through the draft, which means patience will likely be required. Last season, Noel's club had a great record at home but struggled on the road.

Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche

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    Joe Sacco has a young and talented Avalanche squad, and it is his job to help those young players mature.

    Thus far, the Avalanche have reached the playoffs once in Sacco's three seasons behind the Colorado bench.

    A late-season slump kept the club out of the playoffs last year, and there is certainly pressure on Sacco to get the Avs back to the postseason in 2013.

Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Guy Boucher led the Lightning to the Eastern Conference final in his first year behind the Bolts bench in 2010-11.

    Last year, the Lightning failed to reach the playoffs as the goaltending and team defense let the team down.

    Boucher is at a bit of a crossroads this season, and his club needs to bounce back to keep his job secure.

Paul MacLean, Ottawa Senators

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    Paul MacLean led the Senators to the playoffs in his first season behind an NHL bench.

    Prior to that, he spent eight years as an NHL assistant with Detroit and Anaheim and won a title as a head coach in the minors.

    The Sens responded to MacLean last year and made the playoffs sooner than most experts expected. Now he faces the challenge of doing it again.

Kevin Dineen, Florida Panthers

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    Kevin Dineen's first season coaching in the NHL was a success. He led the Panthers to their first playoff berth in over a decade, and they even won the Southeast Division title.

    Dineen never had a losing season coaching in the AHL, and his players seem to respond to his leadership style.

    While the Panthers may have a hard time duplicating last season's success, they appear to have found an up-and-coming coach.

Michel Therrien, Montreal Canadiens

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    This is Michel Therrien's second stint as coach of the Canadiens, and many observers were surprised he got the opportunity to return.

    Therrien led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 but was then let go midway through the following season.

    He faces quite a challenge taking over the Habs, who finished last in the Eastern Conference last season.

Bob Hartley, Calgary Flames

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    Bob Hartley takes over as coach of the Calgary Flames this season. He has a long track record of success, winning a title in Juniors, the AHL and a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche back in 2001.

    Although he was very successful with the Avs, Hartley was unable to turn around the Atlanta Thrashers, although he did lead them to their only playoff appearance in 2006-07.

    Hartley tends to favor an up-tempo and aggressive offensive style which may mesh well with Flames personnel but may make things tougher on goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

Peter DeBoer, New Jersey Devils

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    Peter DeBoer made a huge splash last year when he led the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Final.

    In three previous seasons with Florida, DeBoer failed to lead his team into the playoffs.

    Under his leadership, the Devils became a more offensive-oriented team while not sacrificing defense. He also served as a good teacher for the younger players on the Devils' roster who quickly helped the team win.

Lindy Ruff, Buffalo Sabres

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    Lindy Ruff is the longest tenured coach in the NHL, serving as Sabres head man since 1997.

    Under Ruff's leadership, the Sabres reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1999 and reached the Conference Final on three other occasions.

    He also won a Jack Adams Award as the league's top coach in 2006.

    Ruff is on the hot seat right now, however, as Buffalo has missed the playoffs three of the past five years and have not won a playoff round since 2007.

    He will need a strong start to this brief season to keep his job.

Todd McLellan, San Jose Sharks

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    Todd McLellan won a championship in the AHL and won a Stanley Cup as an assistant with Detroit.

    In San Jose, he has led the Sharks to the playoffs in each of his four seasons behind the bench, including two trips to the Conference Final.

    Unfortunately, the Sharks' record has been a little worse in each season McLellan has coached, and the pressure to win now is on as the core of this team ages.

Randy Carlyle, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Randy Carlyle led the Anaheim Ducks to their only championship in 2007 and now faces the difficult task of rebuilding the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The Leafs just fired GM Brian Burke, who brought Carlyle in so the new GM may want to hire his own coach.

    Carlyle has only been behind the Leafs bench for 18 games and has a lockout-shortened season ahead of him to get Toronto into the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks

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    Bruce Boudreau has had coaching success at every level he's been at.

    He has won championships in the ECHL and AHL, but at the NHL coaching level, Bourdreau's success has been limited to the regular season.

    The Capitals had success under Boudreau when playing a more up-tempo system but could not go deep into the playoffs. Boudreau then tried a more defense-oriented style but the results were more or less the same.

    Last year in Anaheim, Boudreau helped the Ducks to a better than .500 record after taking over midseason.

    He is colorful and popular with the fans and needs only a Stanley Cup win to augment his NHL reputation.

Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators

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    Barry Trotz is the only coach the Nashville Predators have ever known.

    Trotz plays an aggressive forechecking style designed to wear down opponents, and he usually rolls four lines that are roughly equally effective.

    The duo of Trotz and GM David Poile work well together and maximize the results on a team which has often had a limited budget.

    The Preds have made the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons under Trotz's leadership and won a round in each of the last two seasons.

Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes

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    Dave Tippett has done a great job of leading the Phoenix Coyotes through some trying times. While the team had a low budget and an uncertain future in the desert, Tippett was a source of stability for the franchise.

    Tippett led the Dallas Stars to the playoffs for each of the first five seasons he was behind the bench, including an appearance in the Conference final in 2008.

    In 2010, Tippett won the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year. Last season, Tippett led the Coyotes to the first division title in franchise history and a berth in the Western Conference final.

Peter Laviolette, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has been a winner no matter where he has coached in the NHL.

    He led the Islanders to back-to-back playoff seasons, then coached the Hurricanes to their only Stanley Cup title in 2006. In 2010, he led the Flyers back to the Stanley Cup Final where they fell in six games to the Blackhawks.

    Laviolette is smart, bold and a great leader. He is in the upper echelon of NHL coaches.

Darryl Sutter, Los Angeles Kings

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    Darryl Sutter is riding high after leading the Kings to their first-ever Stanley Cup win last spring.

    Sutter had success in Chicago, San Jose and Calgary, but last year he finally won the big one.

    Sutter is tough and intense, but he gets results and made key changes to the Kings' lineup late last season to add size and youth. The results were apparent in the playoffs.

Claude Julien, Boston Bruins

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    Claude Julien has a Jack Adams Award and a Stanley Cup championship to his credit and has been a consistent winner while coaching for the Canadiens, Devils and Bruins.

    Julien's teams are usually very disciplined and play stout defense.

    The Bruins have made the postseason in each of Julien's six seasons behind the Boston bench, and he remains respected throughout the league.

Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues

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    Ken Hitchcock has found coaching success no matter where he's gone.

    He led the Dallas Stars to their only title, the Columbus Blue Jackets to their only playoff appearance and last season turned the St. Louis Blues from a mediocre team to a Stanley Cup contender.

    Hitchcock's style requires hard work and attention to defense. It can be draining for teams, and Hitch has often worn out his welcome with his players after a few seasons. But nobody can question Hitchcock's style works and works well, and he is well respected around the league.

John Tortorella, New York Rangers

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    John Tortorella is smart and tough and often loses his temper. His system requires all-out effort from his players, especially blocking shots in their own zone.

    He is a master motivator. Tortorella gets inside his players' heads and brings out the best in them, even if it means they are angry at him in the process.

    Torts won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning and led the Rangers to the top seed in the East last year and the Conference final.

Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Dan Bylsma has had a lot of success behind the Penguins bench.

    He took over midseason in 2008-09 and led them to a Stanley Cup win. Since then, he has won a Jack Adams Award and kept the Pens over the 100-point mark despite playing without Sidney Crosby for long stretches of time.

    Bylsma is a young, smart and successful coach with a bright future.

Alain Vigneault, Vancouver Canucks

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    Alain Vigneault has a Jack Adams Award and back-to-back President's Trophy on his resume, but he has yet to lead the Vancouver Canucks to their first Stanley Cup title.

    Critics say Vigneault's team isn't physical enough in the playoffs, although they did reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2011 and get to Game 7 before falling to the Bruins.

    Vigneault has been successful in Vancouver, but the window for this Canucks team is starting to close so he needs to lead them to a championship soon.

Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings

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    In seven seasons behind the Red Wings bench, Mike Babcock has won a Stanley Cup, reached the Stanley Cup Final and qualified for the playoffs every year.

    The Red Wings organization likes stability and Babcock's is secure. He will face a big challenge as the club tries to replace Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart on the blue line.

    Rest assured, Babcock's club will be in the hunt for the playoffs again. Babcock is respected throughout the league and most NHL teams would love to have him behind their bench.

Joel Quenneville, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Joel Quenneville has been successful at every stop of his NHL coaching career.

    He has only missed the playoffs once in 14 complete NHL seasons and has never had a losing season with the Blues, Avalanche or Blackhawks.

    Quenneville's teams reflect his personality: tough, hard working and no-nonsense.

    The Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in nearly 40 years under his leadership in 2010.

    He also won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's Coach of the Year in 2000 and remains one of the best coaches in the league.

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