Columbus Blue Jackets' Scott Arniel and the NHL Coaches in Most Trouble
With Dale Hunter now in and Bruce Boudreau out for the Washington Capitals, it didn't take long for Boudreau to find work. The Anaheim Ducks hired the ex-Caps bench boss and fired Randy Carlyle.
This raises the question of who will be next? We have already also seen Paul Maurice of the Carolina Hurricanes fired in favor of former-Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Kirk Muller. Scott Arniel of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New York Islanders' Jack Capuano are two such candidates that are undeniably on the hot seat right now.
The Caps and Ducks both desperately needed a change. In Washington's case, the players just stopped responding to Boudreau. The Ducks surprisingly were 29th in the league in goals for prior to last night's game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Scoring a mere 50 goals over 23 games is just unacceptable for two reasons. One, it makes it hard to win games scoring so few goals each game, on average. Secondly, with one of the top lines in the entire league, there's no reason the offense should be that dry.
With management in Anaheim shaking things up this morning in hopes of a turnaround, there's still other candidates around the league that may get the axe sooner than later.
Jack Capuano (New York Islanders)
Last season, Jack Capuano came in to relieve Scott Gordon of his New York Islanders coaching duties. Since that change, the team has not been the same. Blake Comeau was a 24-goal, 46-point scorer last season mainly under Gordon.
However, this season, Capuano started him off with decreased ice time from what he saw under Gordon.
That's only one situation, however, but things aren't going well right now for the injury-filled Isles. The top line of John Tavares, P.A. Parenteau, and Matt Moulson started off hot, but have since cooled off. It seems the players have simply stopped responding to Capuano, much like the Washington Capitals did in Bruce Boudreau's case.
Joe Sacco (Colorado Avalanche)
To Joe Sacco's credit, his Colorado Avalanche are one of the youngest teams in the league. Management certainly knows this rebuilding club is soon-to-be on the rise again.
Regardless, the Avs are looking like they are headed toward another low-finish, high-draft-pick season. There's still a lot of hockey to be played, but sitting five points out of a playoff spot and 12th in the West, you don't want to dig too deep of a hole.
Since helping the Avs make the playoffs after finishing quite poorly a few seasons ago, the Avalanche have struggled to get in the postseason. For that reason, Sacco may be asked to step down soon.
Brent Sutter (Calgary Flames)
I think the fan's expression behind Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter says it all. This club is seven points out of a playoff spot right now, and it seems they're headed for the same pain suffered in recent years.
This team has to get back to making Stanley Cup runs like they heroically did in 2004, before ultimately losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a dramatic seven-game series.
Brent Sutter is simply not getting the job done in Calgary. With his brother, Darryl Sutter, no longer in charge as general manager, perhaps former Lightning GM and current Flames GM Jay Feaster will look to make some changes soon.
Jacques Martin (Montreal Canadiens)
Jacques Martin has coached the Montreal Canadiens to playoff appearances in recent years, but with limited success thus far. He also came under fire earlier in the season for not using a big-bodied guy like Erik Cole on the power play, who can be a top threat for the Habs.
Sitting currently in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, Montreal is only two points out of a playoff spot, but amidst the media circus that makes sure everyone is a little more magnified under the microscope, it may be time for a change should the Habs miss the playoffs.
Scott Arniel (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Of all NHL coaches, my best bet would be that Scott Arniel would be next to go. The Columbus Blue Jackets started off playing absolutely dreadful hockey. To Arniel's credit, however, he never had his full team together, and still does not, thanks to injuries to players such as Kristian Huselius.
Regardless, the old cliche of "Fire the coach, not the players" seems like it may ring true here. Columbus is holding the worst NHL record, at 6-15-3, with a conference-high 79 goals against. It may be time to look for a new solution behind the bench here.