NHL Coaches On The Hot Seat: Surprising Survivors

NHL Coaches On The Hot Seat: Surprising Survivors

January rolls into its first full weekend, and we are as shocked as anyone that no coach has seen a pink slip. Waiting on the hammer to fall has been quite an excruciating experience. 

Some projected NHL betting odds had suggested a coach like D.J. Smith of Ottawa would be fired by now. However, that is not the case, and the Senators are starting to entertain some playoff hopes again. 

Some coaches popped on and off the list this week. It’s been a little chaotic. Maybe, someone hit the bubbly in the NHL as 2022 transitioned into 2023. Anyway, let’s roll! 

Martin St. Louis - Montreal Canadiens

Wasn’t this coach supposed to make hockey fun in Montreal again? This is starting to look like the Canadiens team that was horrific defensively while struggling to score offensively. Over the past six games (all losses), Montreal has allowed 34 goals. The Canadiens give up goals in bunches. They allowed three in less than six minutes against the Rangers on Thursday night.

While no one in Montreal management has come out publicly about St. Louis, the radio stations are upping the speculation frenzy. At least, there is the “Tank For Bedard” movement.

Paul Maurice - Florida Panthers

After a 2-2 week, Paul Maurice is still here. Even with the return of Aleksander Barkov, the Florida Panthers are having the same problems as they meander around the .500 mark. Inconsistent goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky has helped little with a team defence that is just not as balanced as last season. The team averaging around four goals a contest now is at 3.3 goals per contest. That makes a difference. 

Maurice still has to be on the hot seat for a team that is now watching teams like Ottawa and Buffalo rising past them. Buffalo, in some ways, is last year’s Florida, while Florida looks like the Winnipeg team from 2021-22. That ended with Maurice leaving mid-season. 

Dallas Eakins - Anaheim Ducks

Dallas Eakins is coaching at nearly a .500 clip over the past 10 games for Anaheim. That may soothe the wishes of an angry fan mass. Maybe it won’t. Either way, the Ducks are playing a little better lately. They even beat Dallas on Thursday night. The key is a slightly better defence. Anaheim is capable of playing this way. It comes down to the younger players believing in the system a little more.   

Anaheim and Chicago are battling for the worst record in the league. Columbus and even Montreal could enter this conversation soon enough. Ironically, some of those coaching seats are getting hotter, too. 

D.J. Smith - Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators’ coach has seen his seat cool slightly as Ottawa rises above the .500 mark. How long will that last? That’s a good question. Ottawa is a hot and cold team but is healthier in goal, which is paying dividends. 

This could be more like what the team pundits were expecting. Is that good enough to get into the playoffs? Let’s not get too cocky here!

Bruce Boudreau - Vancouver Canucks

Bruce Boudreau sees his seat heat up again. Vancouver is back below .500, even with the win on Thursday night. The Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, and J.T. Miller rumors keep percolating. Miller cannot keep his mouth shut while the Canucks are stuck with that long-term extension. 

The saving grace for Boudreau and the Canucks is that the last playoff spot is still attainable because teams like Calgary and Edmonton are sputtering a bit. That may not continue, however. 

Brad Larsen - Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Brad Larsen are somehow still here. Columbus now has fewer points than the Anaheim Ducks. Let that sink in. The next stop is the Chicago Blackhawks. 

For further insult, Columbus plays a back-to-back this weekend, and one of those games is against a ticked-off Carolina team. Several players came down with COVID last week, too. If things were not bad enough, Columbus could not stay healthy from an illness or injury perspective.

At least Johnny Gaudreau is having a good productive season. 

Craig Berube - St. Louis Blues

St. Louis can score goals but cannot stop a beach ball defensively. Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko are now on the LTIR, too. Doug Armstrong has to pull the rip cord on the season. 

Again, expect trades to occur first. However, do the Blues and Berube decide to part ways after how south this season has gone? It’s not that bad of a question. 

Who eventually leaves in Nashville?

Juuse Saros is trying to save management’s rear end in Nashville. Saros plays in front of a defence that forgets assignments and fundamentals. John Gibson would even be horrified at this blueline. Carolina peppered Saros with 67 shots on Thursday. Somehow, the goaltender survived as the Predators won 5-3. 

These super-human efforts have buoyed Nashville to a 5-2-3 mark over their previous 10 contests. If Saros is off even a little, this team is in trouble. The pattern feels all too familiar, yet the gang is still somehow there.