5 NHL Coaches Who Have Lost Touch with Their Teams

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2013

5 NHL Coaches Who Have Lost Touch with Their Teams

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    There is always pressure on NHL coaches to get their teams to play cohesive hockey.

    When offense, defense and goaltending meld in an effective manner, teams find a way to string wins together and build confidence.

    However, talent is not enough to turn teams into a solid, functioning unit on the ice. The margin of error is thin, and a head coach must provide an effective working game plan and motivation to turn his team into a winner.

    If he can't do this consistently, he risks losing contact with his players, and the result is that the head coach gets tuned out.

    In some cases, a losing team is merely in a slump, and the coach's message is heard loud and clear. Such was the case earlier in the year with Peter Laviolette of the Philadelphia Flyers. After a rough start, his team has won five of its last seven.

    Here's a look at five coaches who appear to have lost touch with their team.

Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning got off to a hot start once the lockout ended, but they have been fading in the Eastern Conference in recent weeks.

    It's somewhat difficult to understand considering the presence of stars like Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Victor Hedman.

    The Lightning failed to make the playoffs last year after reaching the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Final in 2010-11.

    The Lightning are tied for 11th and four points out of the eighth playoff spot. They have lost four games in a row as of March 3 and have dropped seven of their last 10.

    Head coach Guy Boucher's message is not getting through to his players. He is earnest and has been effective in the past, but the Lighting are no longer buying what Boucher is selling.

Jack Capuano, New York Islanders

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    Jack Capuano of the New York Islanders has a near-impossible job.

    He has to get his team to compete on even terms with the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils. Having those teams in your division means you have to scratch and claw every night just to hold on to some degree of dignity.

    Despite the presence of superstar John Tavares, the Islanders simply don't have enough weapons to stay close in the Eastern Conference.

    Capuano seems to be getting frustrated. He has called out his team, particularly for their poor play at home where they are just 2-8-1.

    Capuano recently criticized his team for too much individual play. “I saw our ‘D’ [get] turned way too much, way too many giveaways by our forwards and our ‘D,’ and you’re not going to be successful like that,” Capuano told the New York Post. “If you want to play like individuals, play golf or tennis.”

    The Islanders have failed to make the postseason for five straight years, and they don't appear to be on track to turn it around this year. Capuano may be trying, but he is not reaching his players.

John Tortorella, New York Rangers

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    John Tortorella is a tough man to play for.

    Under the best of circumstances, he is a demanding coach who grinds his players in practices and pushes them hard.

    It's a demanding and difficult style.

    The Rangers entered the season as solid favorites in the Eastern Conference. They had acquired high-scoring and talented forward Rick Nash in the offseason and seemed a solid bet to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

    They have struggled badly since the lockout ended. The Rangers are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and are just 2-4-1 on the road.

    There's still plenty of talent and time to turn things around, but Tortorella must find a new way to reach his players.

    He's an excellent coach, and he may figure out how to do it, but right now he is not reaching them effectively.

Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche

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    Nobody thought it would be easy for the Colorado Avalanche to make a run this season in the Western Conference.

    While the team clearly has some fine young players, led by the redoubtable Gabriel Landeskog, it seemed a bit much for them to make a run at established powers like the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks.

    However, while teams like the Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers have showed some spark, the Avs are stuck on a treadmill to mediocrity.

    They are 13th in the Western Conference, and it doesn't appear likely that this team will make any kind of run.

    Head coach Joe Sacco understands the game and is putting in the effort to get his team to climb the ladder, but he is simply not effective and may be in over his head.

    This is Sacco's fourth year with the team, and the Avs have not made enough progress to warrant keeping him behind the bench for much longer.

Kevin Dineen, Florida Panthers

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    The Florida Panthers were one of the top stories in 2011-12, winning the Southeast Division and shocking the NHL with their consistent play.

    The Panthers had many chances to fall back last year, but head coach Kevin Dineen's team showed plenty of push back every time the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning or Carolina Hurricanes challenged them.

    This year, the Panthers have fallen apart. They are tied for 14th with the Washington Capitals, and Dineen does not have any answers for his team's leaky defense. The Panthers have given up a league-worst 79 goals through March 3.

    Dineen was a hard-nosed player and is a demanding coach. But his first year may have been a fluke, and he may not truly know what he is doing. If he has a message, it is not getting across to his players.