Ranking the NHL's Best Coaches
Scotty Bowman may unquestionably be the best coach of all time, but who is the best among the active coaches? Can analytics be used to help rank Paul MacLean, Joel Quenneville, Ken Hitchcock and the rest of the current coaches?
Using a system explained in Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract and first developed almost exactly four years ago at Hockey Prospectus, each of this year's coaches will be ranked based on their entire NHL careers up to and including last weekend.
Each coach is scored by how their teams have done relative to expectations. These expectations are set by the previous season's record regressed slightly back to the league average by 35 percent, based on a 2009 study by Gabriel Desjardins of the Arctic Ice Hockey website.
Controversially this system does not take roster changes into account, nor does it consider championships either (or indeed any postseason play at all). Relying instead on the plentiful body of regular-season data, the study looks at which coaches have consistently delivered results year after year throughout their NHL coaching careers.
There are a handful of surprises on the list. Third place, for example, went to someone who has never won the Jack Adams Award, unlike the coaches who ranked 16th and 17th. Fortunately the top two coaches should come as no surprise, though some may argue about their order.
All advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.
30. Ron Rolston, Buffalo Sabres
Lifetime Record: 17-21-0-6
Expected Points: 45.7
Actual Points: 40
Total Difference: -5.7
Per Game: -0.13
Mike Milbury may want him fired for his usage of John Scott, but the Sabres may want to consider it for a different reason—his lack of experience and success in the NHL.
In fairness, winning hockey games might not be why Ron Rolston was hired. Given their tremendous pool of blue-chip prospects, it makes sense to bring in a man who has coached Team USA in a variety of Under-17, Under-18 and World Junior tournaments, winning gold three times.
Rolston was also the assistant coach in the American college leagues for 12 seasons ending in 2003-04, winning the NCAA Division 1 championship twice. Rolston was head coach of the Rochester Americans for two seasons before being brought up late last year as Buffalo's head coach, where he helped the team exceed expectations by 2.3 points.
While they aren't winning very many hockey games, the key for Buffalo right now is to develop their younger players. If so, they probably have the right man for the job.
29. Dallas Eakins, Edmonton Oilers
Lifetime Record: 3-8-0-1
Expected Points: 11.5
Actual Points: 7
Total Difference: -4.5
Per Game: -0.38
The Edmonton Oilers decided to gamble on first-time NHL head coach Dallas Eakins this season. Unfortunately it hasn't worked out just yet.
Eakins started out as the assistant coach of the AHL's Toronto Marlies in 2005-06 and then served in the same role with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the following two seasons. He went back down to the Marlies to serve as head coach for four seasons, taking the team to the finals in 2011-12.
"His strengths are his communication skills and his thoughtfulness," reported Tim Wharnsby by CBC.
Unfortunately the Leafs went with Randy Carlyle as their new head coach, a decision that affected Eakins greatly. While Carlyle has obviously proven a great choice, Edmonton has offered Eakins the opportunity to prove that they could have done even better.
28. Kirk Muller, Carolina Hurricanes
Lifetime Record: 48-49-0-19
Expected Points: 119.2
Actual Points: 115
Total Difference: -4.2
Per Game: -0.04
After a couple of seasons coaching in Canadian universities and international tournaments, Kirk Muller was an assistant coach for the Montreal Canadiens, where he remained for five seasons.
From there he was head coach of the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals before the Hurricanes scooped him up early in the 2011-12 season.
Muller is certainly feeling the heat so far in Carolina, but his playing career certainly suggests that the adversity will only make him better.
27. Craig Berube, Philadelphia Flyers
Lifetime Record: 3-4-0-0
Expected Points: 7.1
Actual Points: 6
Total Difference: -1.1
Per Game: -0.16
The league's newest head coach certainly inherited quite a mess this year in Philadelphia.
Wait a minute: Craig Berube? The longtime NHL enforcer? Yes. With only a single season as a head coach (in the AHL), Berube is coaching an NHL team with one of the highest payrolls.
In fairness, his one season as a head coach was a brilliant success, turning around the Philadelphia Phantoms completely. He also has eight seasons as an assistant coach, three with the Phantoms and five with the Flyers.
Oddly enough, discipline and defensive play has been what Berube has been focusing on thus far, which has earned the team back-to-back wins against the Rangers and Islanders.
26. Kevin Dineen, Florida Panthers
Lifetime Record: 56-60-0-25
Expected Points: 137.3
Actual Points: 137
Total Difference: -0.3
Per Game: 0
Before joining the Panthers, longtime NHLer Kevin Dineen started off as head coach of the AHL's Portland Pirates. He was named coach of the year in his first season and stayed on for five more.
This is Dineen's third season as head coach of the Florida Panthers. Just like in Portland, his first season was a huge success, thrusting the Panthers to first place in 2011-12, 18.5 points ahead of expectations. It's an advantage he's unfortunately erased since then.
While Dineen has had great success with Florida's younger skilled players, he's primarily known for valuing gritty, physical players. To succeed this year, the Panthers will need more out of both.
25. Peter DeBoer, New Jersey Devils
Lifetime Record: 172-159-0-56
Expected Points: 399.8
Actual Points: 400
Total Difference: 0.2
Per Game: 0.00
2011-12 Stanley Cup Finalist
A longtime and highly successful OHL coach, Peter DeBoer won the championship in his 13th and final season at that level and was twice named coach of the year.
His first season in Florida was solid, but unfortunately only two of his six seasons as an NHL head coach exceeded expectations.
The other success was the 2011-12 season in New Jersey, where his team exceeded expectations by over 20 points. This was also the only time his team has made the playoffs, and ultimately all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
24. Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
Lifetime Record: 12-11-0-3
Expected Points: 25.2
Actual Points: 27
Total Difference: 1.8
Per Game: 0.07
When Tampa Bay replaced head coach Guy Boucher with Jon Cooper, they made not have gotten better, but they certainly became more entertaining.
Cooper is well-known for his humorous quips, like "the only thing good about tonight was the national anthem" (via YouTube) and "I was looking for the police when we left the locker room, because I thought we'd get arrested for stealing" (via CBS).
Success at the NHL level may soon come. Prior to being called up to coach Tampa Bay part way through last season, Cooper was head coach for seven seasons in the NAHL, USHL and AHL, where his teams all enjoyed amazing success. He won the championship in his second season in each of the latter two leagues.
23. Adam Oates, Washington Capitals
Lifetime Record: 32-24-0-3
Expected Points: 64.1
Actual Points: 67
Total Difference: 2.9
Per Game: 0.05
Adam Oates was in the news recently for some strong views about whether rookie Tomas Hertl disrespected the league with his flashy goal. And when the evil coach attacked, those Hertl boys didn't cut him no slack.
One of the best playmakers of all time as a player, Oates is in his second season as head coach in Washington. Prior to that he was an assistant in Tampa Bay in 2009-10, and then New Jersey the following two seasons.
He is described as an excellent communicator and very detail-oriented. Though he may be relatively thin on coaching credentials, New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello said that "he's very communicative, very intelligent, he explains things very well," according to TSN.
22. Claude Noel, Winnipeg Jets
Lifetime Record: 76-69-0-21
Expected Points: 167.9
Actual Points: 173
Total Difference: 5.1
Per Game: 0.03
Claude Noel spent 17 seasons coaching in the OHL, ECHL, IHL and AHL, including seven as an assistant and 10 as head coach. Noel won the AHL championship as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals in 2003-04, with Todd Richards as his assistant coach.
Noel was assistant coach in Columbus for two years before taking the reins as head coach late in the third upon Ken Hitchcock's sudden dismissal.
Noel first arrived in Manitoba to coach the AHL's Manitoba Moose, then stuck around to become the first coach of the new incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets. This is his third season as Winnipeg's head coach. Noel has actually finished ahead of expectations both seasons, albeit only slightly.
21. Mike Yeo, Minnesota Wild
Lifetime Record: 67-58-0-17
Expected Points: 145.4
Actual Points: 151
Total Difference: 5.6
Per Game: 0.04
Mike Yeo ended his playing career with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and was named an assistant coach the next season, where he remained for six years.
Yeo then moved up to act as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins for four more years before leaving for an opportunity to be head coach of the AHL's Houston Aeros. They made the finals in his one and only season behind their bench.
This is Yeo's third season as head coach in Minnesota. His results were solid last year, with the Wild finishing second in their division and 7.4 points higher than expectations.
20. Jack Capuano, New York Islanders
Lifetime Record: 88-87-0-31
Expected Points: 198.5
Actual Points: 207
Total Difference: 8.5
Per Game: 0.04
Jack Capuano got his start in the ECHL as head coach of the Knoxville Cherokees and the Pee Dee Pride for four seasons. That last year (2000-01) was the last time his team advanced out of the first round with him as head coach.
Capuano moved on to be their general manager for several years until the team folded, at which point he accepted an assistant coaching job first with the New York Islanders and then their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Capuano was promoted to head coach, and partway through his fourth season with the Tigers, he was called up to coach the Islanders.
Last season was good, as the Islanders made the playoffs and finished 8.1 points higher than expected. Amazingly Capuano is second all-time in games coached for the New York Islanders. He probably won't catch the leader (Al Arbour coached 1,500 Islanders games).
19. Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche
Lifetime Record: 9-1-0
Expected Points: 8.8
Actual Points: 18
Total Difference: 9.2
Per Game: 0.92
Despite his amazing start, it isn't possible to put Patrick Roy any higher, nor ahead of coaches whose accomplishments have endured for longer stretches. That being said, continued success could soon see him fly up the list.
Roy served eight years as head coach of the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts. The team made the finals the first year and the postseason every year. He's actually one of several leading coaches who got their start in similar fashion.
Coaches who were NHL goalies are exceptionally rare, and successful ones even more so. There are only 10 others in NHL history, three of whom have coached fewer games than Roy already has. Among the other seven, only Emile Francis was highly effective. Gerry Cheevers was decent, and no one else really succeeded at the NHL level.
If anyone can reverse that trend, it's Patrick Roy.
18. Todd Richards, Columbus Blue Jackets
Lifetime Record: 124-114-0-25
Expected Points: 263.0
Actual Points: 273
Total Difference: 10.0
Per Game: 0.04
Todd Richards worked four years as an assistant coach for the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals, followed by two years as the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, losing in the finals that second year.
In the NHL, Richards worked one year as assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks and coached the Minnesota Wild for two seasons before first joining Columbus as an assistant coach.
Richards was promoted to head coach halfway through the 2011-12 season. Last year the Blue Jackets were actually tied for the final postseason position, which would have been only their second in franchise history, but lost on the tiebreaker. Richards has therefore never coached in the NHL postseason.
17. Paul MacLean, Ottawa Senators
Lifetime Record: 70-52-0-18
Expected Points: 139.7
Actual Points: 158
Total Difference: 18.3
Per Game: 0.13
2012-13 Jack Adams Winner
Paul MacLean won the Jack Adams Award last year in only his second season as an NHL head coach, both in Ottawa. He was also a finalist the first season. Last year Ottawa improved its record slightly despite missing most of its best players.
Prior to his brief but successful NHL coaching career, MacLean served eight seasons as a head coach in the IHL and UHL, broken up by one year as assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996-97. MacLean won the UHL championship in 2000-01 with the Quad City Mallards.
In the NHL MacLean was an assistant coach for eight seasons, the first two for Anaheim and the last six for Detroit.
16. John Tortorella, Vancouver Canucks
Lifetime Record: 418-344-37-68
Expected Points: 903.9
Actual Points: 941
Total Difference: 37.1
Per Game: 0.04
2003-04 Jack Adams Winner
2003-04 Stanley Cup Championship
Fiery and outspoken Vancouver coach John Tortorella began his coaching career immediately upon his retirement as a player at the tender age of 28. In his first year as head coach of the ACHL's Virginia Lancers, Tortorella won the championship.
Tortorella worked his way into an assistant coaching job with the Buffalo Sabres for six seasons. Following two years in the AHL as a head coach, including winning the championship in 1995-96 with the Rochester Americans, Tortorella was back as an NHL assistant coach. He spent two years in Phoenix and one with the Rangers, during which time he even got to act as head coach (for four games).
Most famously Tortorella coached Tampa Bay for six-and-a-half seasons, winning the division twice, finishing second twice, and of course winning the Stanley Cup and the Jack Adams in 2003-04. Interestingly the previous season was probably his better performance statistically.
After a brief hiatus from coaching, Tortorella was back to coach the Rangers for four-and-a-quarter seasons. The 2011-12 season was probably Tortorella's finest, winning the division with 51 wins. He'd finish as the Jack Adams runner-up.
In all Tortorella has won a championship in three different leagues, but there is a coach coming up that has done so in four.
15. Todd McLellan, San Jose Sharks
Lifetime Record: 229-109-0-49
Expected Points: 468.4
Actual Points: 507
Total Difference: 38.6
Per Game: 0.10
Todd McLellan started off as a head coach for 12 seasons in the SJHL, the WHL, the IHL and the AHL, where he was named coach of the year in 2000 and won the AHL championship with the Houston Aeros in 2002-03.
McLellan then accepted a position as assistant coach for the Detroit Red Wings, where he remained for three seasons.
This is his sixth season as San Jose's head coach. The team finished first in the division the first three years and has made the postseason every year. Only six of the upcoming coaches on this list match or exceed McLellan's results on a per-game basis.
His first season was definitely the best, when in 2008-09 the Sharks won the President's Trophy with 117 points and McLellan finished third in Jack Adams voting.
14. Lindy Ruff, Dallas Stars
Lifetime Record: 575-437-78-85
Expected Points: 1270.8
Actual Points: 1313
Total Difference: 42.2
Per Game: 0.04
1998-99 Stanley Cup Finalist
2005-06 Jack Adams Winner
After four years as Florida's assistant coach, Lindy Ruff coached the Buffalo Sabres for 14 seasons before being axed part way through the 15th.
His NHL career highlight as a head coach is either Buffalo's surprise Stanley Cup appearance in 1998-99 or in 2005-06, when he won the Jack Adams with statistically the 31st best single-season coaching performance of all time. He was also a close runner-up the following season.
Ruff is now the head coach in Dallas, where it still remains to be seen if his trademark system will succeed.
13. Randy Carlyle, Toronto Maple Leafs
Lifetime Record: 313-212-0-69
Expected Points: 656.5
Actual Points: 695
Total Difference: 48.5
Per Game: 0.08
2006-07 Stanley Cup Championship
Randy Carlyle served as an assistant coach for the Winnipeg Jets in 1995-96 and then was head coach of the IHL's Manitoba Moose for five seasons. This was followed by a two-year assistant coaching gig for the Washington Capitals before going back to coach the Moose again during the 2005 lockout.
Carlyle got his big break with the Ducks, where he coached for six-and-a-half seasons, the second of which involved a Stanley Cup championship. Anaheim finished at least second in four of those seasons. His first two seasons there were simply fantastic, turning the franchise back around.
This is his third season in Toronto, if you count the 18 games in 2011-12. In his first full season with the Leafs he got the team into the postseason for the first time in eight seasons, ending the longest active drought in the league.
Carlyle is certainly the right coach on the right team.
12. Alain Vigneault, New York Rangers
Lifetime Record: 425-294-35-61
Expected Points: 896.1
Actual Points: 946
Total Difference: 49.9
Per Game: 0.06
2006-07 Jack Adams Winner
2010-11 Stanley Cup Finalist
Alain Vigneault started off as a head coach in the QMJHL for six seasons, winning the championship in 1987-88 with the Hull Olympiques. Vigneault crossed the Ottawa River to become an assistant coach for the brand-new Ottawa Senators for four seasons before heading back to the QMJHL for two more.
Vigneault was head coach in Montreal for three-and-a-quarter seasons before heading back to the QMJHL once again for two more.
Finally Vigneault returned to the NHL to stay, coaching Vancouver for seven full seasons, during which time they won their division every time but once and reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2010-11.
Vigneault won the Jack Adams his first season in Vancouver, but his best performance might have actually been that 2010-11 season when his famous ice-tilting coaching system had finally reached full effect.
Vigneault is currently with the Rangers and is a key reason why no one is counting them out despite their surprisingly slow start.
11. Bob Hartley, Calgary Flames
Lifetime Record: 353-255-61-40
Expected Points: 756.1
Actual Points: 807
Total Difference: 50.9
Per Game: 0.07
2000-01 Stanley Cup Championship
Bob Hartley is the only coach on this list who has coached a team to a championship in four different leagues. The first was in the QMJHL, where he coached the Laval Titans for two seasons. Then he was a head coach in the AHL for four seasons, winning the championship with the Hershey Bears in 1996-97.
Of course, everyone knows he won the Stanley Cup as coach of the Colorado Avalanche in 2000-01. He was there for four-and-a-half seasons, always winning the division and always making at least the final four. That championship season when the team vaulted up to 118 points was the 25th-best single-season coaching performance of all time statistically.
Hartley then went to Atlanta and coached them to back-to-back 90-point seasons, the second of which was their only postseason appearance in franchise history.
Where did Hartley earn his fourth league championship? That was the Swiss National League championship with Zurich in 2011-12. This highly underrated coach is now in his second season coaching the Calgary Flames.
10. Michel Therrien, Montreal Canadiens
Lifetime Record: 247-201-23-50
Expected Points: 514.9
Actual Points: 567
Total Difference: 52.1
Per Game: 0.10
2007-08 Stanley Cup Finalist
Like several coaches near the top of this list, Michel Therrien got his start as a head coach in the QMJHL. He was there for five seasons, winning the championship in 1995-96.
This was followed up with four years as an AHL head coach, before moving up to Montreal late in that fourth year. He coached the Habs for one full and two partial seasons before heading back to the AHL for three seasons. He was called up to Pittsburgh near the end of the third.
Therrien had great success in his four years in Pittsburgh, the middle two of which were full seasons. During those two, the Penguins finished with at least 102 points a season—no worse than second in the division—and reached the Stanley Cup Final once.
His 2006-07 coaching effort in Pittsburgh was one of the biggest single-season improvements in NHL history, though perhaps Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal had something to do with it. Then again, maybe he was the right coach to unleash them.
Therrien is now enjoying his second season back in Montreal, after he helped them win their division in his first.
9. Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins
Lifetime Record: 208-97-0-25
Expected Points: 386.4
Actual Points: 441
Total Difference: 54.6
Per Game: 0.17
2008-09 Stanley Cup Championship
2010-11 Jack Adams Winner
Dan Bylsma began his coaching career as an assistant in the AHL for three years and then one year with the New York Islanders.
He made the jump to head coach with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2008-09 and by season's end he was the head coach in Pittsburgh. He coached the team to an 18-3-4 record down the stretch and then all the way to a Stanley Cup victory.
This is Bylsma's fifth season in Pittsburgh since then. The Penguins topped 101 points in each of the first three following seasons, the only ones that went the full 82 games. The team has never finished worse than second and has won the division twice.
Needless to say Bylsma's teams have yet to finish below expectations statistically.
8. Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators
Lifetime Record: 525-452-60-89
Expected Points: 1143.1
Actual Points: 1199
Total Difference: 55.9
Per Game: 0.05
The longest-serving NHL coach with a single team, Barry Trotz has coached Nashville since day one. Last year was only the third time in 14 full seasons that the team fell short of expectations statistically.
Trotz and the Predators have finished at least second in the division five times in seven seasons since the 2005 lockout, the first of which was the biggest improvement in team history.
Trotz got his start in the AHL, where he served seven seasons as either head or assistant coach and won the championship in 1993-94 with the Portland Pirates.
While no single season otherwise stands out, it's Trotz's consistent career track record that help him rank higher than coaches who may have reached greater heights, but not for nearly as great a length of time.
7. Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes
Lifetime Record: 434-255-28-81
Expected Points: 909.8
Actual Points: 977
Total Difference: 68.2
Per Game: 0.09
2009-10 Jack Adams Winner
Dave Tippett's 2009-10 Jack Adams season was the 24th-best single-season coaching performance of all time statistically. But Tippett is no one-hit wonder, as his first and third seasons in Dallas were almost as good—both of them first-place finishes with at least 111 points.
Tippett got his start with the IHL's Houston Aeros, winning the championship in his fourth season. He was then an assistant coach in Los Angeles for three seasons.
Ultimately he coached Dallas for six seasons, and this will be his fifth in Phoenix. Last year was only the second time he's missed the playoffs.
6. Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings
Lifetime Record: 451-236-19-92
Expected Points: 940.2
Actual Points: 1013
Total Difference: 72.8
Per Game: 0.09
2002-03 Stanley Cup Finalist
2007-08 Stanley Cup Championship
2008-09 Stanley Cup Finalist
The only thing more amazing than Mike Babcock's record is the fact that there actually five active coaches ranked even higher.
Babcock was a WHL coach for eight seasons, mostly with the Spokane Chiefs. He then coached the AHL's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks for a couple of years before making his permanent jump to the NHL.
Anaheim reached the Stanley Cup in Babcock's first year as head coach. Unfortunately his second year was the only time his team has failed to beat expectations, before or since, and the only time it failed to make the postseason. It concluded his time with Anaheim.
This is his ninth season coaching Detroit, where the Red Wings have topped 100 points every single year until last year's lockout. His team has also reached the Stanley Cup Final twice more, winning it once.
5. Claude Julien, Boston Bruins
Lifetime Record: 382-235-10-79
Expected Points: 774.7
Actual Points: 853
Total Difference: 78.3
Per Game: 0.11
2008-09 Jack Adams Winner
2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship
2012-13 Stanley Cup Finalist
Claude Julien won the QMJHL's championship with the Hull Olympiques in his first year as a head coach—truly a sign of things to come.
Four years later Julien got his next shot as head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Halfway through his third season, where he was guiding the AHL team to a nifty 33-6-3 record, he was moved up to the Habs. He inherited a struggling team that would ultimately miss the postseason, the only time that's happened to him in the NHL.
Julien coached Montreal for three seasons, only one of which was for the full 82 games. New Jersey won its division in his only season behind its bench in 2006-07.
As for Boston, this will be his seventh season with the Bruins. His 2008-09 Jack Adams season was the 30th-best single-season coaching performance of all time statistically. He won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reached the final against last season in 2013.
Apparently Julien is best in odd-numbered seasons.
4. Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks
Lifetime Record: 266-126-0-54
Expected Points: 504.3
Actual Points: 586
Total Difference: 81.7
Per Game: 0.18
2007-08 Jack Adams Winner
Bruce Boudreau began his coaching career with 17 seasons in leagues like the IHL, the CoHL, the ECHL and the AHL. His teams made the finals four times and emerged victorious twice. Boudreau's NHL success has certainly paved the way for similar coaches to get such opportunities.
Boudreau coached Washington for five seasons, finishing first every year, and guided them to an amazing 121 points in 2009-10. His 2007-08 Jack Adams was the 32nd-best single-season coaching performance of all time statistically.
This is Boudreau's third season in Anaheim, where he coached the team to a surprise division lead last year in his first full season behind the bench.
3. Darryl Sutter, Los Angeles Kings
Lifetime Record: 468-353-101-46
Expected Points: 1001.2
Actual Points: 1083
Total Difference: 81.8
Per Game: 0.09
2003-04 Stanley Cup Finalist
2011-12 Stanley Cup Championship
Darryl Sutter's third-place ranking is less of a surprise after a closer look at his tremendous record, Jack Adams or not. Sutter has had success with four different organizations, each one more impressive than the last.
First was in Chicago, where he actually began as an assistant coach the year after his retirement. After serving as head coach of the IHL's Saginaw Hawks and the Indianapolis Ice, with whom he won the championship, he was back in Chicago as an associate coach for two years before beginning his three-year run as head coach. In his last year he got Chicago to the final four.
A few years later Sutter began his five-and-a-half year stint in San Jose, where he helped turn the franchise around into the dominant force they've been ever since.
His next stop was Calgary, a team predicted to finish near the bottom, and instead ended a seven-year playoff drought. He's the only Calgary coach to take the team past the first round of the postseason since their 1989 Stanley Cup, and he took them to within a video review of hoisting another.
It is now Sutter's third season in Los Angeles, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2011-12 and returned to the final four again last year. Sutter is certainly the best active coach never to be recognized with a Jack Adams.
2. Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues
Lifetime Record: 611-383-88-85
Expected Points: 1275.8
Actual Points: 1395
Total Difference: 119.2
Per Game: 0.10
1998-99 Stanley Cup Championship
1999-00 Stanley Cup Finalist
2011-12 Jack Adams Winner
The top two coaches switch back and forth every season, and unfortunately a historic win-loss record and Stanley Cup pushed Hitchcock down to second place.
Hitchcock started out as the head coach of the WHL's dominant Kamloops Blazers for six years before joining the Philadelphia Flyers for three years as assistant coach. He then coached the IHL's Kalamazoo Wings/Michigan K-Wings for three seasons.
His NHL success began when he coached the Dallas Stars for seven seasons, winning their division the five full seasons in the middle. His 1996-97 job with the Dallas Stars was the ninth-best coaching performance of all time and was perhaps the biggest Jack Adams oversight in history. His time there also included back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup Final, winning it all in 1998-99.
Hitchcock returned to Philadelphia as their head coach for three seasons, never finishing with fewer than 101 points or lower than second place in the division. His next stop was Columbus for four seasons, where he coached them to their only postseason appearance in 2008-09.
Now he's in St. Louis, where he has finally won the Jack Adams after coaching St. Louis to a division-leading finish in 2011-12.
1. Joel Quenneville, Chicago Blackhawks
Lifetime Record: 666-391-77-88
Expected Points: 1376.1
Actual Points: 1497
Total Difference: 120.9
Per Game: 0.10
1999-00 Jack Adams Winner
2009-10 Stanley Cup Championship
2012-13 Stanley Cup Championship
Joel Quenneville began his career as the head coach of the AHL's Springfield Indians, followed by three seasons as an assistant coach in Quebec/Colorado.
Quenneville was head coach of the St. Louis Blues for eight seasons, finishing no worse than second in all but the first two years. He also won the Jack Adams in 2000 after the first of four straight seasons with at least 98 points. Statistically that also ranked as the 17th-best single-season coaching performance of all time.
Quenneville then returned for three seasons in Colorado, where he finished with exactly 95 points all three years. The middle season was the only time his team has ever missed the playoffs. His teams have finished higher than expectations 13 times out of 16.
This is Quenneville's sixth season in Chicago, where he has already won two Stanley Cups. Last year's 36-7-5 finish was the best record since Scotty Bowman and the late-1970s powerhouse Canadiens. Wow.