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.