NHL Predictions 2011-12: 8 Coaches That Will Not Survive the Season
NHL coaches don't have a very impressive lifespan. Normally, a coach will last between two and three seasons with a team before being cut lose and moving on. Changing coaches can be an excellent way for a team to change the tone of their season and get things turned around before disaster strikes.
That being said, coaches aren't normally fired midseason, save for a coach or two per season. So, when I say that these coaches will not survive the season, I mean that they will either be fired during the season or after the season.
The following coaches are on a short leash heading into the 2011-2012 NHL season.
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Lou Lamoriello goes through coaches faster than any general manager in the entire league. Eight different coaches have stood behind the Devils' bench since 2005.
Peter DeBoer is Lamoriello's shiny new coach, but the novelty of that title is not likely to last very long if New Jersey is not able to jump out to a fast start.
Zach Parise will be healthy, and Ilya Kovalchuk will presumably be more comfortable in the system. DeBoer won't have too many excuses to point to if this team struggles out of the gate like it did in 2010.
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The Colorado Avalanche were one of the biggest surprises during the first half of the 2010-2011 NHL season. The offense was firing on all cylinders, and the Avs were a legitimate threat to Vancouver's Northwest Division crown. It's funny how the grind of the NHL season can show a team's true colors.
Entering the 2011-2012 season, expectations are that the Avs will be able to turn things around and climb out of the cellar. Personally, I'm not convinced that is going to happen.
Colorado has a young team that is not particularly strong on the blue line. Meanwhile, new starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov has a history of inconsistency. That's not a solid combination on the back end.
The Avalanche certainly have a bright future, but how the team performs this season will determine whether or not Joe Sacco is going to be a part of that future.
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Alain Vigneault was grossly out-coached in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, and I don't exactly consider Claude Julien to be one of the league's elite coaches, either.
The Vancouver Canucks seemed to have finally shaken off the entitled attitude, the whining and the dirty play after the whistles. However, when the 'Nucks slipped back into those ugly habits during the Stanley Cup Finals, Vigneault was the ring leader, publicly whining about Tim Thomas and the officials every chance he got.
Vigneault is a terrible leader for this hockey team and deserves to be firmly on the hot seat entering the 2011-2012 season.
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have been constructing a playoff-caliber roster for a handful of years under the guidance of general manager Brian Burke. The 2011-2012 season is the first in which the Leafs have a legitimate shot at qualifying for postseason play.
While Toronto is not likely to make a run at the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, it is fair for Leafs Nation to expect the team to play competitive hockey wire to wire and possibly sneak into the playoffs. Thus, Ron Wilson now has to deal with the pressure that comes with those expectations. A slow start will not sit well with Maple Leafs fans, or Brian Burke.
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The San Jose Sharks have a serious mindset issue. Despite once again failing to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, the Sharks' season was viewed as a success by many people because they took another step forward.
Unfortunately, the Sharks have been taking those same small steps forward without ever taking the biggest step of all: reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. Everything else is a failure for a team as talented as San Jose.
At some point, McLellan becomes the man responsible.
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The Washington Capitals epitomize underachieving. There is nothing I can say that has not already been said. The Caps needs to get it done in the postseason. It's that simple.
Bruce Boudreau attempted to make his team more defensively orientated a season ago, which hurt the offensive production of some of the big guns, but overall, helped the team through the long haul of the regular season.
Hopefully with another offseason to work on the new system, and some players that better fit the scheme, Boudreau will be able to squeeze some postseason success out of these guys. His job depends on it.
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Scott Arniel is one of my top candidates to be fired during the 2011-2012 regular season. It is not entirely an indictment on Arniel, either.
Given all of the money and effort ownership has invested in the Blue Jackets over the offseason, the front office has to be expecting quick results. Shelling out the money to sign James Wisniewski and trading draft picks and young players for Jeff Carter is not exactly a long-term plan. Columbus wants to win now.
However, this team is going to take some time to click, and the roster is not capable of being a legitimate contender in the Central Division right away. Thus, it would not surprise me to see patience run thin with the Blue Jackets' front office if Arniel doesn't get the new-look team off to a fast start.
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Brent Sutter is lucky that he is still coaching the Calgary Flames. He was hired by his brother Daryl, who has since resigned as general manager of the Calgary Flames.
To make matters worse, Calgary's roster can't decide if it wants to be in rebuilding mode or get ready to compete for a playoff spot. The mix of veterans approaching the twilight of their careers and overpaid role players is not a combination that will help Brent Sutter keep this team competitive.
Don't be surprised if Jay Feaster shows Brent Sutter the door during the regular season. The Flames are getting ready to rebuild, they just haven't fully committed to it yet.