You’re Fired: The Effects of Midseason Coaching Changes

The never ending coaching carousel that is the NHL continues. Since the 2011 season, there have been 25 midseason coaching changes, more than any other major North American professional sport.

However, there is logic behind the madness, as no other sport has shown more positive returns from a midseason coaching change than hockey has. Remarkably, 3 of the last 10 Stanley Cup winners have seen midseason coaching changes. The Penguins have accomplished this feat twice; first in 2008-09 and again in 2015-16. The Kings also regrouped from a midyear coaching change to win the Stanley Cup under Darryl Sutter in 2011-12.

Of course, a midyear coaching change doesn’t always end in raising the cup. Unlike the Penguins and Kings, teams who decide to fire their head coach usually don’t have that type of talent (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, and Anze Kopitar in Los Angeles). On more than a few occasions, a midseason coaching change can go horribly wrong. For example, the 2014-15 Maple Leafs were on the playoff bubble at 21-16-3 when they fired their head coach Randy Carlyle and replaced him with Peter Horachek who led the Leafs into a complete collapse, going 9-28-5 to finish the season.

Coaching Changes since the 2011-12 Season

2011-12

Team

Coach

(Replacement)

Record

Goals Forced Average

Goals

Against

Average

Playoffs?

CBJ

Scott Arniel

(Todd Richards)

11-25-5

(18-21-2)

2.4

(2.5)

3.3

(3.0)

No

MTL

Jacques Martin

(Randy Cunneyworth)

13-12-7

(18-23-9)

2.5

(2.6)

2.6

(2.8)

No

TOR

Ron Wilson

(Randy Carlyle)

29-28-7

(6-9-3)

2.9

(2.2)

3.1

(3.5)

No

ANA

Randy Carlyle

(Bruce Boudreau)

7-13-4

(27-23-8)

2.2

(2.6)

3.2

(2.6)

No

CAR

Paul Maurice

(Kirk Muller)

8-13-4

(25-20-12)

2.4

(2.7)

3.3

(2.8)

No

WAS

Bruce Boudreau

(Dale Hunter)

12-9-1

(30-23-7)

3.2

(2.5)

3.3

(2.6)

Yes; Lost in Conf Semi

LA

Terry Murray

(John Stevens)

(Darryl Sutter)

13-12-4

(2-2-0)

(25-13-11)

2.2

(1.7)

(2.5)

2.3

(3.5)

(2.0)

Yes;

Stanley Cup Champions

STL

David Payne

(Ken Hitchcock)

6-7-0

(43-15-11)

2.5

(2.6)

2.7

(1.9)

Yes; Lost in Conf Semi

 

2012-13 (Lockout Season)

Team

Coach

(Replacement)

Record

Goals Forced Average

Goals Against Average

Playoffs?

TB

Guy Boucher

(Jon Cooper)

13-18-1

(5-8-3)

3.2

(2.8)

3.1

(3.2)

No

BUF

Lindy Ruff

(Ron Rolston)

6-10-1

(15-11-5)

2.7

(2.5)

3.3

(2.8)

No

 

2013-14

Team

Coach

(Replacement)

Record

Goals Forced Average

Goals Against Average

Playoffs?

PHI

Peter Laviolette

(Craig Berube)

0-3-0

(42-27-10)

1.0

(2.9)

3.0

(2.8)

Yes; Lost in Conf QF

WPG

Claude Noel

(Paul Maurice)

19-23-5

(18-12-5)

2.7

(2.8)

3.1

(2.6)

No

BUF

Ron Rolston

(Ted Nolan)

4-15-1

(17-36-9)

1.8

(1.8)

3.1

(2.9)

No

FLA

Kevin Dineen

(Peter Horachek)

3-9-4

(26-36-4)

2.0

(2.4)

3.5

(3.2)

No

 

2014-2015

Team

Coach

(Replacement)

Record

Goals

Forced

Average

Goals

Against

Average

Playoffs?

NJ

Peter DeBoer

(Scott Stevens/Adam Oates)

12-17-7

(20-19-7)

2.1

(2.2)

2.9

(2.4)

No

EDM

Dallas Eakins

(Todd Nelson)

7-19-5

(17-25-9)

2.1

(2.6)

3.3

(3.5)

No

OTT

Paul MacLean

(Dave Cameron)

11-11-5

(32-15-8)

2.6

(3.0)

2.7

(2.6)

Yes; Lost in Conf QF

TOR

Randy Carlyle

(Peter Horachek)

21-16-3

(9-28-5)

3.2

(1.9)

3.0

(3.3)

No

 

2015-16

Team

Coach

(Replacement)

Record

Goals

Forced

Average

Goals

Against

Average

Playoffs?

CBJ

Todd Richards

(John Tortorella)

0-7-0

(34-33-8)

1.8

(2.7)

4.8

(2.9)

No

PIT

Mike Johnston

(Mike Sullivan)

15-10-3

(35-16-5)

2.4

(3.2)

2.4

(2.5)

Yes; Stanley Cup Champions

MIN

Mike Yeo

(John Torchetti)

23-22-10

15-11-1

2.4

(3.0)

2.5

(2.4)

Yes; Lost in Conf QF

 

2016-17

So far this season, 5 teams have made a midseason change at head coach: the Florida Panthers fired Gerard Gallant and replace him with Tom Rowe, the Blues moved on from Ken Hitchcock and brought in Mike Yeo, the Bruins fired the long-tenured Claude Juilen and gave the job to Bruce Cassidy, the Canadiens let go of Michel Therrien and brought in the recently fired Claude Julien, the Islanders also changed head coaches, firing Jack Capuano and bringing in Doug Weight.

These teams have had remarkable success so far with their new coaches. The Doug Weight led Islanders have pulled themselves close to a wildcard spot, the Blues won 6 straight games after giving the reigns to Mike Yeo, and the Bruins have won 4 straight games under Cassidy.

Overview

Since 2011, 7 of the 21 teams that made an midyear coaching change, went on to the playoffs. Of those 7 teams, 4 of them won playoff series and 2 of them went on to win the Stanley Cup.


 

Dean Snock is a, “The Wraparound” writer for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @DSnock97.

Corrected: Changed the name of Islanders head coach Doug Weight.

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