There may not be a more unstable line of work than that of a head coach of a team in one of the four major North American professional leagues.
Since Jan. 1, 2020, a total of 22 of the 31 NHL franchises have made coaching changes at the top (not including the Seattle Kraken franchise that is in its second season).
Boston’s Jim Montgomery and Bruce Cassidy of the Vegas Golden Knights are among the coaches who have their teams among top Stanley Cup contenders according to the NHL playoff odds.
Let’s take a look at the 14 coaches who either were hired in the offseason or are in their first full season with seven of the teams currently in playoff position having coaches on the list.
14. David Quinn, San Jose Sharks
Quinn’s results with the New York Rangers were mediocre as the Rangers missed the playoffs in two of his three seasons.
He walked into a difficult situation with San Jose. The Sharks are 7-13-4 this season.
However, seven of the 13 games played in November have been decided by one goal so San Jose is becoming competitive.
13. Luke Richardson, Chicago Blackhawks
The good news is that Richardson got to join the fraternity of NHL head coaches. The bad news is five of the top eight scorers from last season’s Blackhawks team are playing elsewhere.
Time will tell if the draft picks acquired in the Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach trades will pan out. The moves have left Chicago with a bunch of unproven players lining up with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
Chicago is tied for the second-fewest points in the NHL and it figures to get worse before it gets better.
12. Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver Canucks
The veteran coach got off to a remarkable start when he left his role as a television analyst to return to the NHL a season ago. Now Vancouver is in 11th place in the Western Conference standings.
There is some star power on the team, but the roster lacks depth at multiple positions.
Perhaps things are improving as Vancouver has won five of its last six games.
Vancouver leads the NHL with 15 of its games going over the NHL odds total.
11. Don Granato, Buffalo Sabres
Things got off to a pretty good start in Buffalo with the bevy of former first-round draft picks playing up to their draft positions before a recent eight-game losing streak sent
Buffalo plummeting down the Eastern Conference standings.
Injuries have played a role in the recent struggles while the Sabres goalies have a 4.15 goals-against average in the month of November.
10. John Tortorella, Philadelphia Flyers
Tortorella is a proven winner at the NHL level. However, not even the legendary Scotty Bowman could thrive with the circumstances Tortorella is dealing with.
James Van Riemsdyk and Cam Atkinson were the only 20-goal scorers on the 2021-22 Flyers teams and they have played in a combined total of six games. Sean Couturier has yet to play this season and now Travis Konecny is also on the injured list.
There have been predictable results with the Flyers currently tied for 13th in the Eastern Conference with 19 points.
9. Martin St. Louis, Montreal Canadiens
The Hall of Famer made an immediate impact when he was fired in February. The forwards and in particular Cole Caufield thrived with St. Louis behind the bench.
Montreal is playing decent hockey with an 11-9-1 mark and are 6-4 over the last 10. The Canadiens are 3-0 in shootouts and that is another area where it helps to have a 1,000-point scorer at the NHL level calling the shots.
St. Louis is among the wave of coaches relying on analytics to help move up in the standings.
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) November 29, 2022
8. Paul Maurice, Florida Panthers
When Maurice stepped away from the Winnipeg Jets, he didn’t stay unemployed for long. Florida hired Maurice and so far it has been a mixed bag with the Panthers.
A huge trade that sent Jonathan Huberdeau to Calgary in a deal that included Matthew Tkachuk coming to Florida has altered the chemistry a bit. Tkachuk leads Florida with 29 points, but a lack of scoring depth has been an issue.
Something to keep in mind for those who bet online, Florida is just 6-16 against the spread.
7. Jay Woodcroft, Edmonton Oilers
Woodcroft posted a 26-9-3 mark as a midseason replacement last season. The results haven’t been as encouraging this season.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl continue to pile up the points but as previous coaches have found out, a couple of high-scoring players can’t always compensate for defensive deficiencies.
Edmonton is sitting in fourth place in the Pacific Division with a 12-10 record.
6. Lane Lambert, New York Islanders
The Islanders have shown the ability to post come-from-behind victories. However, that also points out the tendency to create early deficits to overcome.
The Islanders are second in the Metropolitan Division and that is pretty much where they should be with such a veteran roster.
The Islanders have won four games in a row and are 5-1 in one-goal games in November.
5. Derek Lalonde, Detroit Red Wings
Lalonde has certainly paid his dues with coaching stints in the USHL, ECHL and AHL before being an assistant coach on a pair of Stanley Cup winning teams in Tampa Bay.
A young Detroit team is currently fourth in the competitive Atlantic Division so the early returns are pretty positive.
The additions of Dominik Kubalik (nine goals, 13 assists), David Perron (six goals, 10 assists) and Andrew Copp (two goals, nine assists) has been a huge help for the first-year head coach.
4. Rick Bowness, Winnipeg Jets
Quietly, Winnipeg is sitting in second place in the Central Division. It has taken some work with four overtime games just in the month of November as goalie Connor Hellebuyck has been keeping the Jets in games and stealing a few of them.
More will be needed from Winnipeg’s group of unproven young forwards.
3. Peter DeBoer, Dallas Stars
DeBoer has a history of success early in his stints with a new team and this year it is no different. Dallas leads the Central Division with a 13-6-4 record.
Winger Jason Robertson has a point in each of his last 15 games while Jake Oettinger is one of the top goalies in the NHL.
There is an interesting mix of veterans and promising youngsters for Dallas to be a factor in the Western Conference.
2. Bruce Cassidy, Vegas Golden Knights
Cassidy left one talented team for another. The former Boston Bruins head coach has Vegas sitting on top of the Western Conference standings.
Vegas (17-6-1) is 10-1-1 on the road and is benefiting from a healthy Jack Eichel scoring at more than a point per game play as well as the surprising play of rookie goalie Logan Thompson.
1. Jim Montgomery, Boston Bruins
The Bruins figured to have some issues early in the season until All-Star winger Brad Marchand and franchise defenseman Charlie McAvoy returned to the ice.
All the Bruins have done is post the best record (18-3) in the NHL and set the NHL record by opening a season with 12 wins in a row.
This has been done while dealing with players coming in and out of the lineup.
The defensemen have taken to Montgomery’s up-tempo style while 20 different players have at least one goal. Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman also form one of the NHL’s best goaltending tandems.
The Bruins are also 16-5 against the NHL betting lines, the best mark in the NHL.