NHL: Coaches on the Hot Seat

After a string of underwhelming seasons in Minnesota, coach Bruce Boudreau finds himself on the hot seat next season. Photo: Hannah Foslien/AP

With 27 of the 31 NHL teams done for the season, most of the league is already looking towards the draft, free agency, and next season. With that comes the possibility of some coaches finding themselves on the hot seat as next season approaches. Interestingly, the longest tenured coach in the NHL is Jon Cooper, who was hired by Tampa Bay in 2013. The NHL has no Popovich/Belichick type coaches that last decades with teams anymore. With that said, let’s go through some coaches who could be on the hot seat after varying levels of disappointing coaching tenures thus far:

Bruce Boudreau

The Minnesota Wild bench boss was hired in May 2016. The last three seasons have been disappointing for different reasons. In his first season with the Wild, they put up 49 wins and 106 points in the regular season, good for second in the Central division. However, in the playoffs, Minnesota was ousted by the St. Louis Blues in just 5 games. The following season, the Wild once again posted 101 points and achieved a playoff berth. Again, they had the same result as they lost in the first round. This season was the worst of all. Boudreau’s squad getting just 83 points and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.

Boudreau has had tenures in Washington and Anaheim where he just couldn’t find a way to get his team over the hump and into the promised land, and his current run in Minnesota bares similar resemblance. 2019-20 is crucial for Boudreau if he has any hope of staying in the State of Hockey.

Paul Maurice

The Winnipeg Jets were picked by many to come out of the west and play in the Stanley Cup finals; some predicted them to take home the Cup. These predictions were short lived when Maurice’s Jets were eliminated in the first round by the St Louis Blues in 6 games. Last year, Winnipeg advanced to the Western Conference finals where they lost to Vegas, but there were many reasons for optimism in Winnipeg. This most recent playoff run, or lack thereof, has many fans and analysts alike scratching their heads.

The Jets have an incredibly talented roster that will undergo some changes this offseason. Winnipeg faces salary cap issues that every championship contender must navigate through. If the Jets have another disappointing playoff run in 2019-20, does GM Kevin Cheveldayoff consider a coaching change? Paul Maurice isn’t on thin ice. However, he will certainly be under pressure to get this group back to the level of success that they now expect.

Mike Babcock

That’s right, Mike Babcock is on the hot seat in Toronto. After three straight first round exits and poor decision making, it’s time to be critical of the Leafs’ head coach. The first couple years in Toronto were a breeze for Babcock. He was given the benefit of the doubt in regards to decision making along with the luxury of low expectations.

Once the Leafs became a perennial playoff team in recent years, the tides have turned quickly in Leafland. With the President of the Leafs Brenden Shanahan extending his contract, it’s clear that he’s going nowhere. If a change is made, it sure as hell won’t be to the management, at least not first. Mike Babcock needs to show improvement in this team next season, especially come playoff time. Another first round exit in 2020 will result in Babcock finding himself on the chopping block.

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