Popular Top 10 NHL Coaching Changes of 2011 12

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The NHL has been a dangerous place to be a head coach this season. Since the Stanley Cup was awarded, there have been fourteen coaches who have lost their jobs.

Head coaches in sports often take much more blame than they deserve, and get much less credit than they should. The NHL is no different with its coaches, and often when a team is struggling the coach is the first to go.

Hockey is a game that requires a team effort, and if the coach is just one part of the team, why is he blamed for a team’s failures?

The coach has to have the plan and the vision, which will create an opportunity for the team to succeed. While a coaching change can only do so much, if the right change is made, it can completely change a team’s season.

While some teams are gearing up for a playoff run, other teams will soon be facing the offseason, and another round of changes will begin. Before the next wave of changes hit, let’s look back at the best coaching changes of the 2011-12.

10. L.A. Kings

In: Darryl Sutter

Out: Terry Murray

The L.A. Kings decided to make a coaching change because their team was struggling offensively. When the team removed Terry Murray, they placed former Flyers coach John Stevens as the interim coach.

After an average 2-2-0 record Stevens was removed, and Darryl Sutter was brought in to be the long-term solution. Having Sutter in charge has not provided the offensive spark that the Kings need, but he has kept the Kings in playoff contention.


9. Toronto Maple Leafs

In: Randy Carlyle

Out: Ron Wilson

Once again, the Leafs appeared to be a sure-thing for the playoffs, only to fall short late in the season. The Leafs have made the change as a last ditch effort to stop the downfall of a once-promising season.

While the coaching change has not had much of an effect on the team, it had to be done. The front office made no moves at the trade deadline to stop the skid. They needed to make some effort to help the team and calm the fans.

8. Minnesota Wild

In: Mike Yeo

Out: Todd Richards

The Wild were bad last season. Missing the playoffs by over ten points is unacceptable for any team, so big changes were necessary. In the offseason, Mike Yeo was brought in as the new leader, and had a great start to his season.

The Wild were fighting for the top spot in the Western Conference under their new coach, but injuries eventually caught up to the Wild.

If the team would have stayed healthy and kept their goal scoring up, Yeo would have had an excellent first season. And while things aren’t perfect, Yeo is definitely an improvement.

7. Carolina Hurricanes

In: Kirk Muller

Out: Paul Maurice

The Hurricanes got off to a bad start. They lost some players to injury, and several other players had career-low numbers to start. The front office decided to make the move to go from Maurice to Muller, in order to begin the rebuild.

While a big run up the standings did not happen, the Hurricanes did begin to show signs of life. Some good wins and a solid effort each night show that the Hurricanes are headed in the right direction.

Muller might not have been able to fix this season, but he could bring good things in the future.

6. Winnipeg Jets

In: Claude Noel

Out: Craig Ramsay

In the move out of Atlanta, the Jets decided to part ways with Craig Ramsay and decided to give Claude Noel his long-awaited chance to coach. While the Jets are not currently a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference, they have made great improvements this season.

The Jets are in the playoff hunt, which is a big improvement over last season. If they can make some player improvements during the offseason, Claude Noel should be able to help them be even more successful next season.

5. New Jersey Devils

In: Peter Deboer

Out: Jacques Lemaire

The Devils had some serious problems last season. Even once Lemaire righted the ship, their coaching situation was not a sure thing because the franchise knew that Lemaire was not a long-term solution. When the season ended, Lemaire went back into retirement, and the Devils brought in Peter Deboer from the Panthers.

With a healthy roster and a new coach, the Devils have been a serious contender all season. While their good record is hidden by playing in the powerhouse Atlantic Division, they have been in the hunt for the top spot all season.

4. Dallas Stars

In: Glen Gulutzan

Out: Marc Crawford

The Dallas Stars fell just short of the playoffs last season, and decided a coaching change would be a good adjustment to make to better the team. Glen Gulutzan was brought in and took over a Stars team that lost several players to free agency and trade, but has some young talent.

The Stars now play with a hard, grittier mentality to their game, and have scratched their way to the top of the Pacific Division. Playing this season under Gulutzan with their mentality of being the “#peskystars” has brought them plenty of success.

3. Florida Panthers

In: Kevin Dineen

Out: Peter Deboer

The Panthers finished last in the Eastern Conference last season, and knew big changes were needed. Coach Deboer was replaced with Kevin Dineen, and along with a coaching change, the Panthers brought in a lot of new players through trades and free agency.

The Panthers are currently sitting on top of the Southeast Division, and are a greatly-improved team from last season. While there were a lot of player moves to help the fix, coach Dineen has played a big part.

2. Ottawa Senators

In: Paul Maclean

Out: Cory Clouston

The Senators were also in the group of teams fighting for the bottom spot in the Eastern Conference last season. During the offseason, Clouston was replaced with Maclean, and the team made minimal changes to the lineup.

The Senators have been in the playoffs all season, and have been just behind Boston for the division lead, overtaking them last night.

The Senator players have all started to play at a higher level than they had in previous seasons. The Senators have a chance to go far in the playoffs, but it is clear to see Maclean has been a big help.

1. St Louis Blues

In: Ken Hitchcock

Out: Davis Payne

The St. Louis Blues changed their coach a few weeks into the season, after starting with a near-.500 record. The Blues replaced Payne with Ken Hitchcock, who has had success with several teams, including winning the Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999.

Hitchcock came to St. Louis with a plan and has implemented it well. He’s been able to get his players to completely buy in. With solid goaltending and a solid defensive game plan, the Blues have risen all the way to the top of the NHL. Hitchcock seems to have been the missing piece to lead the Blues to success, and has definitely been a great hire.

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