NHL Coaches On The Hot Seat: Slipping Teams Could Soon Make a Move

NHL Coaches On The Hot Seat: Slipping Teams Could Soon Make a Move
© USA Today

January is almost halfway over, and the holiday weekend is upon us. U.S. holiday Martin Luther King Day is Monday which offers some matinee options. The hot seats are getting scorching and boiling for some while others are cooling off. 

Some NHL coaches popped on and off the list this week. 

Paul Maurice - Florida Panthers

After another up-and-down week, one has to wonder about the plan in Florida. The Panthers reside in sixth place in the Atlantic Division and one game under .500. Bill Zito and management did not expect this mediocrity, but this kind of could be seen coming. 

Now, the question is, does Florida ownership consider a 2-for-1 deal? Might the Panthers fire both Maurice and Zito? The speculation is rising as the seats heat up for both. 

Dallas Eakins - Anaheim Ducks

Dallas Eakins and the Ducks are starting to fall back again. Anaheim is one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL. They have allowed 175 goals on the year. Columbus is the only other team to allow four goals a game. Anaheim knows its strategy, but when its young stars struggle defensively, one has to wonder.   

Anaheim is contending with Chicago, Montreal, Arizona, and Columbus in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. Everyone knows it. The question is, what does Pat Verbeek do with Eakins next? 

D.J. Smith - Ottawa Senators

The Senators’ coach has seen his team cool off as his seat has warmed up over the last week. At .500, Ottawa is what they are at this point. The Senators are just an NHL .500 team, and Smith cannot get this team any higher. 

This sets the stage for a move. If ownership gets sorted out sooner, the story may be different. Ottawa could be better. 

Bruce Boudreau - Vancouver Canucks

Bruce Boudreau is in trouble. Vancouver lost three straight and is now four under .500 on the season. Jim Rutherford has done that. 

When a president of hockey operations considers why didn’t he stay retired, that is an ominous sign. Who does Rutherford trade first? Honestly, that may matter little because this team is broken. They score first and then predictably fall flat. Against Pittsburgh, they had a three-goal lead that evaporated by the first period's end.

Teams like Calgary and Edmonton are pulling away. Ten points out of a playoff spot at this point usually mean doom. Cue up that seat as Vancouver is about to get plenty toasty for Boudreau and more.

Brad Larsen - Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Brad Larsen have not parted ways. At this point, one has to wonder about Jarmo Kekalainen, too. The general manager has steered this ship into the ground, and it only worsens. 

For further insult, Columbus lost eight of their last 10, including three straight. They are tied with Chicago for the fewest points in the NHL. Some will point to the injuries, COVID, the crazy circumstances, etc. However, the Blue Jackets remain a dumpster fire. 

Again, Johnny Gaudreau is having a productive and healthy season.

Craig Berube - St. Louis Blues

St. Louis has seen Berube’s seat cool, even though it is outside the playoff bubble. The Blues have played better, going 5-3-2 in their previous 10 contests. Arguably, injuries may have kickstarted the younger players to play up to their potential finally. 

Whatever it is, it is working. Now, can St. Louis keep that momentum rolling? It will be challenging in the West. 

Jay Woodcroft - Edmonton Oilers

The dream run of last season’s playoffs is over. Yes, that honeymoon period ended with speculation cranking up during the past week that Jay Woodcroft is a concern in Edmonton. The Oilers have not performed up to expectations, so it is the coach's fault. 

Common sense expects to reign supreme here. On the other hand, Edmonton is at considerable plus money not to make the playoffs. If the unthinkable happens, does Ken Holland get the boot too? Seats are heating up either way. 

Who eventually leaves in Nashville?

Nashville dropped back-to-back games in Toronto and Montreal. Some are surprised by the Montreal loss, but the Predators usually do not respond well playing unrested. Montreal dominated that opening 20 minutes before Nashville got their legs somewhat. 

As for David Poile, Eeli Tolvanen has four goals and six points in seven games in Seattle. It may be John Hynes and Poile, after all. If Juuse Saros does not save Nashville again, ownership likely cleans house.