With playoffs just over a month away, Mike Yeo needs to secure a spot this season for the Wild.
The NHL's lockout-shortened season has increased some of the pressure put on head coaches to get their team to perform, whether that means just getting into the playoffs or achieving something greater.
For some coaches, a playoff berth might be enough to save their jobs for another year, but for a few others, a deeper postseason run is basically a necessity if they want to stay behind the bench.
Let's break down the top five coaches on the hot seat at this point in the season, their respective records with their current clubs, what they need to do to keep their jobs and the risk level that they'll be fired after the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.
After an awful second half last season saw the Wild drop completely out of the playoff picture, Yeo needs to assure a spot for Minnesota this season.
Minnesota brought up Mike Yeo in 2011 after the former Pittsburgh assistant coach led the Houston Aeros to a Calder Cup finals appearance in the AHL. Yeo was a popular pick after winning the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009 and at just 38, became one of the NHL's youngest head coaches.
After an offseason that saw the Wild add goal scorers Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi from the San Jose Sharks, the team jumped to the top of the NHL standings by December during the 2011-12 campaign, but prolonged injuries to big-name players saw the Wild fall completely off the table. Minnesota finished with a losing record of 35-36-11 and were fourth in the Northwest Division, missing the playoffs.
After another busy offseason that saw the Wild shell out nearly $200 million in identical 13-year contracts to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter that added even more star-power to Minnesota, Yeo's group is barely hanging on to the West's eighth and final spot through 25 games. However, with just 28 points Minnesota's fortune could swing either way in the wild, wild west. The Wild trail division leader Vancouver by two points for the No. 3 seed, but are also just one loss away from being on the outside looking in.
Of course, with 23 games remaining, Yeo has plenty of time to define the Wild's 2013 regular season story, which should result in a playoff berth given the caliber of talent Minnesota employs. If the Wild fail to make the postseason however...it remains to be seen in Yeo will stay with the club or not. Minnesota simply has too many weapons to fall short again, something Yeo cannot afford.
Chances Yeo loses his job in 2013: Medium
Boucher's Lightning simply have too much talent to not be winning more often.
Everyone knows Tampa Bay's GM Steve Yzerman as a winner: The Captain won three cups with the Detroit Red Wings as a player and then a fourth as the Vice President of Operations in 2007-08. Yzerman accepted the GM job with Tampa Bay in May of 2010 and brought in Guy Boucher from the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs as his young head coach.
Boucher had instant success with the Lightning and led the team to a 46-35-11 record in a hotly-contested Eastern Conference and Southwest Division that saw the Lightning head to the postseason as the East's No. 5 seed. After a seven-game series win over Pittsburgh and a sweep over division rival Washington, Tampa Bay lost to the eventual cup champion Boston Bruins by a single goal in a hard-fought, seven-game Eastern Conference Finals.
The 2011-12 season wasn't the follow up Boucher was looking for. Despite Steven Stamkos scoring an NHL-high 60 goals, becoming the first man since Alex Ovechkin during the 2007-08 season to reach that mark, the Lightning finished tenth in the East and missed the playoffs.
This season, Boucher's bunch is performing much the same. Despite having two of the league's top point scorers in Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, the Lightning sit in 12th place in the East, five points out of a playoff spot with 22 games to go. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, the Eastern Conference looks the stronger of the two in the lockout-shortened season, with seventh place New Jersey eight points ahead of the Lightning with a game in hand.
Tampa Bay is too talented to miss the playoffs and have Boucher keep his job. However, given his youth and good relationship with Yzerman, a playoff berth alone should be enough to keep him in Florida for at least another season.
Chance Boucher will lose his job in 2013: Medium
McLellan's four years with the Sharks have been marred by constantly coming up short.
Todd McLellan's four year tenure with the San Jose Sharks has resulted in four trips to the postseason, three Pacific Division titles, two trips to the Western Conference Finals and a President's Trophy. Unfortunately for McLellan, the Sharks won just one game in those two appearances, getting swept by the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and losing in five games to the runner-up Vancouver Canucks in 2011.
McLellan's 195-92-41 regular season record since replacing Ron Wilson as the Shark's head coach in 2008 is very impressive. What's far less impressive is his team's performance in the postseason.
Despite the Sharks winning the President's Trophy with 117 points during the 2008-09 season, McLellan's group was given an early exit by the No. 8 seed Anaheim Ducks, who defeated the Sharks in six games.
The 2009-10 campaign saw the Sharks return as the West's top seed with 113 points, but after defeating the Colorado Avalanche in six games and the Detroit Red Wings in five, the Sharks were swept by the Chicago Blackhawks in McLellan's first attempt at the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.
With the West's second best record heading into the 2011 playoffs, McLellan's bunch once again failed to make the Stanley Cup final, losing to the Vancouver Canucks in five games after eliminating the Los Angeles Kings in six and the Detroit Red Wings in seven games, respectfully.
Making matters worse, the Sharks finished second in the Pacific last season and were bounced from the 2012 playoffs in the first round, where they were handily defeated by the St. Louis Blues in five games.
All together, that brings McLellan's overall record in the playoffs to a far less-stellar 21-24 mark.
This season, after a prolific start in January led by Patrick Marleau's incessant scoring, the Sharks' offense fell off the table in February and hasn't fully recovered yet in March. San Jose currently sits on the outside looking in at ninth place, although they're just two points away from the West's sixth-seed in a jam-packed conference that has 15th place Colorado five points outside of a playoff spot.
Yet, given McLellan's track record and inability to get the job done in the playoffs, a simple berth won't be enough for him to keep his job after the season. The Sharks need to at least make the Western Conference semi-finals in order for McLellan to stay at the helm of the ship.
Risk of McLellan losing his job if San Jose fails to accomplish that goal: High
Philly is a tough place to play and a tougher place to coach, which doesn't bode well for Laviolette if the Flyers don't make the playoffs.
Despite bouncing back and forth over the years with John Tortorella for the all-time leader in wins by an American head coach, Laviolette's time in Philly appears to be nearing the end. The Flyers had a miserable start to the 2013 season, and currently sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
Laviolette replaced John Stevens as the Flyers head coach on December 4, 2009 after being fired by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008. Laviolette lead the 'Canes to a Stanley Cup in 2006 but failed to make the playoffs in the three other seasons he served behind the bench in Carolina.
He instantly found success with the talent-laden Flyers in his first season with Philly in 2009-10, finishing third in the Atlantic Division but taking the team to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they would lose in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The 2010-11 season saw Philadelphia win the Atlantic, only to be swept in the Eastern Conference semi-finals by eventual champion Boston. The following 2011-12 season saw more of the same, with Laviolette's group falling to the New Jersey Devils in the second round of the playoffs.
While Laviolette has made the postseason six times in nine full seasons as a head coach, including all three years he's been in Philadelphia, it's not an easy town to play in, and an even tougher one to coach in. Just ask Andy Reid about the price of not winning the big one.
In order for Laviolette to keep his job in Philly, the Flyers need to not only make the postseason but at least advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Even that might not be enough if Ed Snider thinks it's time for a change.
Chance Laviolette loses his job in 2013: High
You've got to win if you're going to coach in New York, and the Rangers have too much talent to continue to fall short in the postseason.
Much like Laviolette, John Tortorella has won a Stanley Cup elsewhere before moving to a more-demanding sports city; in this case, The Big Apple.
In his four seasons with the Rangers, Tortorella's Blueshirts have made the playoffs three times, but twice were bounced in the first round by the Washington Capitals. Last season, the Rangers emerged as the Eastern Conference's top seed with 109 points, but lost a heated series in six games to the rival New Jersey Devils.
After an offseason that saw highly coveted winger Rick Nash join the Rangers, the Blueshirts haven't lived up to expectations in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. New York is currently clinging to the East's final playoff spot, with 28 points through 25 games. They're currently looking up at the hated Devils, who sit in seventh with three more points.
Simply put, the Rangers have way too much talent and star-power to not make another deep run in the postseason. An annual Vezina candidate in net in the form of Henrik Lundqvist, reliable blueliners like Mark Staal and high-quality forwards like Nash, Marion Gaborik and Brad Richards, plus plenty of young talent like Derek Stepan, the Rangers are seemingly extremely deep on paper.
But the reality is that Nash is the only reason why this team remains in the playoff hunt. That's a stunning revelation, considering his addition to the team had once been thought as the final piece to the puzzle to bring the Rangers their first title since "The Guarantee" in 1994.
New York is a town where losing is unacceptable and where great expectations are the norm. Torts certainly hasn't made many friends in the New York media either, which has a history of being hostile to managers and head coaches that haven't delivered. The amount of negative publicity coming his way if the Rangers fail to at least make the Eastern Conference semi-finals this season, and most likely the Eastern finals again, could be enough to drive him out. Missing the playoffs or a first-round exit would almost certainly do it.
Chances Tortorella loses his job in 2013: Very High