2010 NHL Playoffs: Power Ranking the Playoff Coaches
While everyone is busy making series projections and breaking down each playoff match-up, we at Bleacher Report wanted to look beyond the rosters and rank the men behind the bench who make these teams go. The coach above (Bruce Boudreau) led his Washington Capitals to the President's Trophy, but you might be surprised at where he's ranked on this list. Where does your favorite team's coach rank? Keep clicking to find out.
#16. Joe Sacco- Colorado Avalanche
Playoff Record: None.
Give due credit to rookie coach Joe Sacco- he's led an Avalanche team with one of the NHL's youngest cores to a playoff spot, even when the more experienced Calgary Flames gave them a run for their money late in the season.
That said, Joe Sacco is still a rookie coach, and the Avalanche are still a very young team. If Sacco can lead this eighth-seeded Avs team past the San Jose Sharks in the first round, he'll skyrocket up this list. Until then, he's in the cellar due to the fact he's just unproven.
#15. Cory Clouston- Ottawa Senators
Playoff Record: None.
Pretty much the same story for Clouston, who's in his first full season as a head coach after taking over for Craig Hartsburg in the middle of last season for the Sens. He'll be tested right away, as the Senators will face off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.
He's done an impressive job, especially as a relatively new coach, sustaining a playoff spot for a Senators team that was extremely erratic at points during the season.
#14. Barry Trotz- Nashville Predators
Playoff Record: 6-16.
Trotz has been the Predators coach for the entire 11-year existence of the hockey club, which has seen its fan base grow along with the team on the ice becoming a force to be reckoned with.
While Trotz doesn't have the best playoff record, let alone a playoff series win, this year might be his best shot to get that illustrious first series win as this might be one of the best teams Nashville has had in their history.
#13. Todd McLellan- San Jose Sharks
Playoff Record: 2-4.
Todd McLellan's rookie campaign last year saw him win 53 games with the San Jose Sharks, who naturally lost their first round series to the Anaheim Ducks in the first round that year.
Yeah, he didn't have a great initial postseason experience. Like most low-rated coaches on this list, he's pretty low down on this list due to the fact that there isn't too much of a sample size to make an opinion on. But if the Sharks lose in the first round with the number one seed again, it might be time to look behind the bench for a change. There might not be a coach with more pressure heading into the postseason than McLellan feels on his shoulders.
#12. Claude Julien- Boston Bruins
Playoff Record: 14-15.
Julien has advanced to the second round twice in three trips to the postseason, but has never been able to get to the conference finals. Julien's defensive style will pay off to an extent in the playoffs, but his teams have never exactly had the knack for scoring goals.
Same for this Bruins team, who were ranked 30th out of 30 in goals-per-game during the regular season. For Julien to experience more playoff success, the offense-defense scale might have to balance out a bit more.
#11. Alain Vigneault- Vancouver Canucks
Playoff Record: 15-17.
Another coach that has led some promising teams into the playoffs and just hasn't been able to get past the conference semifinals. To his credit, he's been able to get past the first round in all three of his postseason trips, so he usually isn't a coach just happy to get there.
This is another guy who could skyrocket up this depth chart with a few playoff series wins in this 2010 postseason, depending on how far the Sedin twins and Roberto Luongo can take him this spring.
#10. Bruce Boudreau- Washington Capitals
Playoff Record: 10-11.
Boudreau has led a monster Washington Capitals team to a couple impressive regular seasons, collecting 104 wins during the past two years. However, last year the Capitals seemed just as powerful as they are now, and they were knocked out in the second round, after nearly being upset by the New York Rangers in a seven-game heart-stopping series. The year before, they were knocked out by the Flyers in seven games in the first round. Bruce Boudreau and the Capitals have to prove they're more than a great regular season team this postseason- something they've yet to do.
#9. Dan Bylsma- Pittsburgh Penguins
Playoff Record: 16-4, won Stanley Cup once.
I'm going to get torn apart for putting Dan Bylsma so low on this list, but it's with due reason. When Michel Therrien was removed from the Pittsburgh bench last season, it probably helped light a little fire under the Penguins you-know-what, which probably made it a little easier on rookie coach Bylsma. And his has this guy Sidney Crosby, who you might have heard of before.
Not to take away from Bylsma's accomplishment of winning the Stanley Cup as a rookie coach, but the quality of the players on the ice had a lot to do with it. For Bylsma to rank any higher on this list, he'll have to have a sustained stretch of success (try saying that three times fast) in the postseason.
#8. Dave Tippett- Phoenix Coyotes
Playoff Record: 21-26.
I think Dave Tippett is the front-runner for the Jack Adams (top coach) award this season, and I don't even think it's even close. Besides Joe Sacco, who else took a team with such little expectations and turned them into a contender?
Tippett was in the Western Conference Finals as recently as 2008 with the Dallas Stars, where they were defeated by the Detroit Red Wings in six games. Including this trip to the postseason with the Coyotes, Tippett will have made the playoffs in six of his first seven years as a head coach.
#7. Peter Laviolette- Philadelphia Flyers
Playoff Record: 20-17, won Stanley Cup once.
When the Flyers ousted John Stevens from behind their bench, they wanted to get someone in there that would literally push the team into the postseason.
Laviolette was barely able to accomplish that task, but all's well that ends well. He's still a great coach for the Flyers to have behind the bench, as he led an extremely young Carolina Hurricanes team to the Stanley Cup in 2006, which was incidentally the last time he was in the postseason. The two times before that, he was ousted in the first round, both times with the New York Islanders.
Understanding he has had only one good year in the postseason, he still has what only three others on this list can boast about: a Stanley Cup ring. That makes him elite enough to be number seven.
#6. Joel Quenneville- Chicago Blackhawks
Playoff Record: 51-53.
Quenneville has been behind the bench of the young and dangerous Chicago Blackhawks for two seasons now, and led them to the Western Conference Finals last season, which Quenneville had only reached once before.
Quenneville has the postseason experience necessary (104 games) to lead the young and still relatively inexperienced Blackhawks to the promised land.
#5. Terry Murray- Los Angeles Kings
Playoff Record: 45-43.
There might not be a better coach to lead the Kings into their first postseason since 2002 than Terry Murray. The 13-year veteran has been to the postseason a total of seven times and has won eight playoff series, including reaching the Stanley Cup Finals with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997.
Murray will bring the experience to a Los Angeles team that needs it with their abundance of youth, and look for him to try and relax a Kings team that will have a lot of nervous energy early on.
#4. Jacques Martin- Montreal Canadiens
Playoff Record: 38-47.
As the Canadiens were able to scratch and claw their way into the playoffs this season, much of that credit goes to Martin, currently in his first season with the Canadiens. He was facing job threats through the media in just the first few months, which had to weigh on him emotionally, especially coming from Florida where the media was much more forgiving when it came to their hockey.
Martin has been to the postseason ten times before this year, but has only eclipsed the first round four times. Still, look for Jacques to have something up his veteran sleeve to try and sneak by the Capitals in the first round.
#3. Lindy Ruff- Buffalo Sabres
Playoff Record: 52-36.
Ruff has led the Sabres to the playoffs only six times in eleven seasons and just twice in the past seen years, but he has failed to get the Sabres past the first round only once in those six years. When the Sabres get to the second season, Ruff makes sure they're read to play, which is a big part of the reason Ruff is so beloved in Buffalo.
The only thing that could make Ruff anymore beloved in that city is a Stanley Cup, which with a hot Ryan Miller, he has a fantastic shot at this season.
#2. Jacques Lemaire- New Jersey Devils
Playoff Record: 60-52, won Stanley Cup once.
Lemaire has already won one Stanley Cup with the Devils, and the way the Devils played in the last week of the season has some thinking they could contend for a second with Jacques behind the bench.
Lemaire hasn't seen recent postseason success, considering he hasn't reached the second round since 2003. But he's made the postseason in ten of his sixteen years as a head coach, and hasn't reached the second round only three of those times. Just like the coach before him on this list (Ruff), when Lemaire gets into the playoffs, he and his teams don't get cheated. Don't be shocked if Lemaire takes these Devils deep, especially with the acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk, who is hungry for his first postseason victory.
#1. Mike Babcock- Detroit Red Wings
Playoff Record: 58-31, won Stanley Cup once.
There is no better coach in the postseason than Mike Babcock. That winning percentage (.652) is ridiculous, and even more ridiculous is the fact that in just five seasons of postseason experience, he has reached the Stanley Cup Finals THREE times, out of those five.
Of course the fact that he's the coach of the Red Wings is probably a big reason of that success, but no one can forget his miraculous run with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003, where they came one game from winning the Stanley Cup, only to be thwarted by the New Jersey Devils in Game 7.
Everyone's rankings are different, and I don't expect anyone to have the same 16-1 list as me. But if you see anything you agree with, or even don't agree with, please leave a comment! These ranking lists are great for debates, and I'd love to.