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NHL Power Rankings: Top 10 Coaches Most Likely to Be Fired in 2011-2012

Andrew EideCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: Top 10 Coaches Most Likely to Be Fired in 2011-2012

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    Life can be stressful for NHL coaches. You can draw up the X's and O's, prepare your team, match up your lines and it still may not matter.

    Coaches don't miss assignments or let weak goals squeak through their five-hole. Yet, they get the blame and usually end up paying for it with their jobs.

    Each year there are coaches who are feeling the pressure. Their coaching seat is heating up.

    Some may survive the season while others may get the plug pulled half way through it.

    Any coach feeling safe should realize that there are seven new coaches taking over teams this season.  That's seven coaches that are taking over jobs that someone else lost, for whatever reason.

    There are many reasons, and it isn't always fair. But it is a fact of NHL life.

    Here are the 10 coaches most likely to be on the hot seat. A lot of these guys may survive, but chances are, some of them will be looking for new work after the 2011-2012 NHL season.

    How do you feel about your team's coach?

10. Jack Capuano

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    You almost have to feel sorry for anyone coaching the New York Islanders. The franchise has seen some tough times, and now their future in Long Island is up in the air.

    Capuano has some young, budding stars to work with but may not have time.

    One thing common with perennial losers is constant change. It may seem like a guy who has only one season behind the bench, as Capuano does, should be given several years to show what he can do.

    The reality is that the time lines are shorter than that.

    Before you think that Capuano will easily get three more years, keep in mind a couple of facts.

    One, Garth Snow is the boss in Long Island and his track record of smart decisions is pretty short.  Secondly, Capuano replaced Scott Gordon, who was fired 17 games into his third season. 

    Capuano may have a short tenure, and it may not even be his fault.

9. Peter DeBoer

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    Peter DeBoer has yet to coach a game for the New Jersey Devils. In fact, he has yet to run a practice.  So how can he possibly be on the hot seat?

    Because he coaches the New Jersey Devils.

    Since 2005, only six seasons ago, the Devils have employed eight different coaches. General manager Lou Lamoriello treats his coaches the way Darth Vader treats those nameless officers he is always choking out. 

    Like Vader, Lamoriello wipes them out without remorse.

    Last season John McLean only lasted 33 games before being fired.

    So good luck Mr. DeBoer. Like it or not, you are on the hot seat.

8. Todd McLellan

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    Is McLellan a good coach, or is he just fortunate enough to be in charge of a team loaded with big name players?Or both?

    McLellan has just finished his third season in the Bay and has piled up an impressive 152-63-31 in those three seasons.

    Pretty elite numbers. So why is he on this list?

    He is on this list because of what happens after the regular season ends. The Sharks have yet to turn their talented roster into a championship. McLellan has guided them to two straight conference finals, which is pretty darn good.

    But, if they don’t get into the finals this year, you have to wonder how patient the Sharks will be.

    They fired Ron Wilson for playoff disasters, albeit much more stunning failures than McClellan’s, and McLellan may be next.

7. John Tortorella

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    After signing the top free agent prize in Brad Richards, the expectations are sky high in New York this year. In places like New York, if expectations aren’t met, coaches get the axe.

    Tortorella is a good coach. He has won a Stanley Cup and is a riot to watch.

    He has cursed out the press and attacked fans behind the bench. There’s a lot to love there. Those antics are fun when you win. 

    If you don’t, they become great reasons to get fired. Tortorella most likely won’t get fired during this season, but if he doesn’t get out of the first round with the Rangers, you have to wonder if it is time to move on.

6. Joe Sacco

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    Sacco came out of nowhere to take over the Colorado Avalanche in 2009 and led them to a surprising playoff appearance. Even though they didn’t get out of the first round, the future seemed bright for the young Avalanche.

    That future got a bit dimmer last year as Colorado back-slid into a dismal 30-44-8 season that saw them not come close to the playoffs.

    This season is not shaping up to be much better for the Avalanche and Sacco. They still have a couple of fine young players in Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny, but their questionable trade for Semyon Varlamov may cost them a building block in next year’s draft.

    A second straight playoff miss might not doom Sacco, but it will fan the flames under his seat.

5. Alain Vigneault

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    Vigneault took over the Vancouver Canucks in 2006 and has had a great deal of success. Highlighted by last season’s Stanley Cup Finals run, it seems hard to believe that his job is on the line.

    The truth is that had the Chicago Blackhawks won Game 7 of their first-round series with the Canucks, Vigneault might already be looking for work.

    Success is often determined by expectation, and in Vancouver, those expectations are high. Despite last season’s success, many fans and pundits view it as a disappointment.

    Vigneault has his detractors. 

    Detractors that question his conservative strategy, his ability to motivate his players, his history of seemingly holding grudges against players, and his questionable handling of Roberto Luongo in the Chicago series.

    Vancouver enters the 2011-2012 season, once again, loaded with talent. If they bomb out of the playoffs without a cup, general manager Mike Gillis may choose to go in another direction.

4. Paul Maurice

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    Paul Maurice’s career with the Carolina Hurricanes goes all the way back to 1995, when he was hired to coach the Hartford Whalers. He moved to Carolina with the team and had a great deal of success.

    In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Maurice led the Hurricanes to three playoff appearances including the 2001-2002 Stanley Cup finals. The relationship soured in 2004, when he was fired by Carolina.

    After a stint with the Maple Leafs, the Hurricanes went back to their old coach re-hiring Maurice in 2008.  In his first year back with Carolina, he surprised the league by guiding them into the Eastern Conference finals, where they were beaten by Pittsburgh.

    But since then Maurice has failed to reach the postseason and hasn’t finished higher than third place in the Southeast Conference. Another bad season in Carolina might result in Maurice getting the axe a second time.

    He should get through the season, but if they don’t improve, he may be gone next summer.

3. Ron Wilson

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    Ron Wilson often seems angry. Maybe it is really just intensity, instead of anger, but it is fun to watch him fume behind the bench or during press conferences.

    He has won over 600 games as a head coach, and he led the Washington Capitals to a Stanley Cup finals. See Capitals fans, it can be done.

    Wilson has credentials. Yet his tenure in San Jose was disappointing, and so far his Toronto era isn’t going much better.

    Since taking over the storied Leafs, he is 101-107-38. Not terrible, but not exciting either. With the high pressure and high profile job of coaching the Leafs, Wilson is perpetually on the hot seat.

    General manager Brian Burke has, to date, maintained that Wilson is not on the hot seat, but you have to wonder what another year out of the playoffs will do to that seat.

2. Brent Sutter

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    It’s hard to imagine that Brent Sutter will survive another season in Calgary. Sutter was hired to coach the Flames by his brother Darryl, who was general manager in 2009 after two successful seasons in New Jersey.

    You have to wonder if he wishes he had stayed with the Devils.

    Since taking over the Flames, Sutter is a disappointing 81-61-22 with zero playoff appearances. The Flames, under his brother’s leadership, have made many questionable personnel choices that have the left the team devoid of quality playoff talent.

    Darryl resigned, and there was, reportedly, some bad blood between the two.

    There is a strong sentiment that star Jarome Iginla may be on the trading block this year, which may further hamper Sutter’s ability to get the Flames back into the playoffs.

    Sutter’s seat is hot, and while he may survive the season, he is a candidate to get the axe in the offseason.

1. Bruce Boudreau

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    Bruce Boudreau has taken a lot of heat the past two years. His Washington Capitals have been monumental disappointments, and there are questions as to whether or not Boudreau is the guy to get them to the finals.

    The world got a closer look at his profanity laced, ketchup spilling act during HBO’s behind the scene series leading up to the Winter Classic last year, and that has opened up his style to the critics.

    Is he too lax with the players? Does he lack the X’s and O’s knowledge to lead the team?

    All these questions are swirling around as the Capitals head into the 2011-2012 NHL season, where they almost have to reach the finals for him to save his job. They were the offseason winners by bringing in key players to solidify their already great roster.

    That only has added more expectations and more pressure to Bruce Boudreau.

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