NHL coaches have a specific job to do. And when they don't do it, they end up on the hot seat.
Win games and the general manager and fans will leave you alone. You can be a total Looney Toon and practice shamanism in the locker room before games and no one will care as long as the slashes are going in the win column.
Make a habit of losing—or even worse, lose the room altogether—and the hot seat only gets warmer.
Some coaches garner attention for doing so much with so little, such as Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators. Others garner attention for running teams that are failing to meet expectations.
All four of these coaches are in charge of teams that should be in the playoffs. If they don't end up there, the ax could fall.
The company line is that nothing is wrong and everything is peachy. The front office pretends that it has the 2002 Detroit Red Wings out on the ice and that winning is automatic while they go about their merry-filled days sipping on espresso and watching "Mad Men.''
Everyone outside the organization can see that the wheels truly have fallen off this young and promising team, and the blame can at least be partially laid on the shoulders of head coach Joe Sacco.
The Avalanche are the worst team in the Western Conference and seem to be in a race with the Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames (among others) for the first overall selection in the entry draft.
That simply isn't good enough.
Kevin Dineen's saving grace is that his team has accumulated nearly 200 man-games lost to injury (per mangameslost.com) and has been icing an AHL-caliber roster for large portions of the season. Still, the 2013 campaign has been disappointing for a Panthers team that was defending its Southeast Division crown.
Coaches who oversee a catastrophic fall like this find themselves out of work more often than not. Thankfully for Dineen, he has a legit doctor's excuse to miss the final exam that is the playoffs.
Todd McLellan's teams is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak—a streak that likely saved his job and the season as a whole. Two weeks ago, this team was among the most disappointing and underachieving in the NHL.
Now it is the hottest team in the league and is leapfrogging teams for better postseason positioning.
The Sharks aren't a lock to make the dance, however. And if the team cools off and ends up missing the playoffs, there could be some serious turnover in San Jose. The "Cup window" is closing on the Sharks, and missing this opportunity to win a championship would be a dire blow to the franchise.
The Rangers came into the 2013 as heavily favored Stanley Cup contenders. They now find themselves scratching and clawing for a playoff birth, jockeying with the likes of the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Marian Gaborik is gone now, which apparently solves the yearly "identity crisis" that the Rangers seem to have.
The fact of the matter is that John Tortorella has a very talented group of players that he refuses to let off the chain. That's fine and dandy when it results in wins. But if it results in New York missing the playoffs this season, it could cost Torts his job.