A fan's perspective on the National Hockey League
Are the Toronto Maple Leafs shopping for front office help?
The Toronto Maple Leafs barely ended their 5 game losing streak by defeating a flu depleted Carolina Hurricanes team 5-4. The team's poor showing on the ice has created some rumblings about the fate of its general manager, John Ferguson Jr and even the head coach, Paul Maurice. Earlier this week, several sources reported that the top brass at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) had started looking for an experienced hockey executive who could take over the general manager responsibilities on an interim basis. One name who the Leafs have apparently spoken (tampered) with is Hall of Famer Cliff Fletcher, currently enjoying his retirement from hockey. Fletcher's entry into the Leafs sweepstakes is somewhat ironic because he was pretty much driven out of town in 1997 after some very successful years at the helm of the Maple Leafs.
Vancouver Canucks fire Marc Crawford
After almost six years as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, Marc Crawford was fired yesterday after the team grossly underperformed in the regular season, finishing out of the playoffs for the third time in Crawford's stint on the west coast. General Manager Dave Nonis made it pretty clear that this was just the first move in over-hauling the Canucks for next year. "This does not absolve the players of any responsibility," said Nonis. "It's not a situation where we have a new coach and everything is fine. That's not the case. We're going to make them fine."
Toronto Maple Leafs clean house
The Toronto Maple Leafs notoriously underachieved this year and finished their season out of the playoffs. In what is considered the toughest hockey market in the world, this has not gone over too well with the fans and media. Pat Quinn and his assistant Rick Ley became the first casualties as the Leafs fired the 19-year coaching veteran who still had one year remaining on his contract. Quinn led Toronto to a 41-33-8 record this season and finished out of the postseason for only the fourth season in his coaching career. Quinn went 300-222-52 with 26 shootout and overtime losses as the Leafs coach, twice leading Toronto to the Eastern Conference final with losses to Buffalo in 1998-99 and Carolina in 2001-02.
Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien
The Montreal Canadiens got off to a quick 12-3 start this season, but had only won 7 of their last 25 games prior to yesterday. But it still came as somewhat of a surprise when their general manager Bob Gainey announced the removal of Claude Julien as coach and moved himself into that position. He also brought in former Canadiens captain Guy Carbonneau as an associate coach to replace Rick Green and he will also be the next head coach of the team. Julien was made aware of the change by Gainey in a phone call Saturday morning and both him and Rick Green remain under contract with the Canadiens.
Islanders dump coach and general manager
The New York Islanders are far, far removed from their glory years of the early 1980s. They have not been a model of consistency, going through eight coaches in the last nine years and for the most part, playing sub-par hockey. Steve Stirling was the eight victim, fired after about a year and a half on the job. Assistant coach and former Ottawa Senators captain and defenseman Brad Shaw will take over the coaching duties on an interim basis. Shaw will coach the team for the rest of this season with the goal of turning around their season and making the playoffs.
Larry Robinson steps down as Devils coach
The New Jersey Devils haven't been the dominating team that won 2 Stanley Cups over the last decade. Yesterday their head coach Larry Robinson stepped down and was replaced by current general manager Lou Lamoriello. Robinson resigned from his position on Monday because of stress and "horrible headaches," two days after his team lost for the seventh time in nine games. He is a Hall of Fame defenseman who lead the Devils to a Stanley Cup victory in 2000 and returned to the team this summer, when Pat Burns was unable to return due to his ongoing battle with Colon Cancer
Penguins fire head coach Ed Olczyk
Ed Olczyk became the first coaching fatality of the 2005-06 season as the Pittsburgh Penguins fired him and his coaching staff. Assistant coaches Joe Mullen, Randy Hillier, Shane Clifford and strength and conditioning coach John Welday were also let go. Michel Therrien, who was coaching the Penguins' AHL affiliate team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has been promoted to the head coaching position with the big club. The move comes as the Penguins have floundered with a 8-17-4-2 record and are currently stand last in the Atlantic Division. They added several key free agents like Ziggy Palffy, Mark Recchi and John LeClair in the off season and also drafted rookie phenom Sidney Crosby
. Their inability to play defense and the lack of goaltending also played a role in their poor start.
Wayne Gretzky to coach the Phoenix Coyotes
Though some may argue, Wayne Gretzky is an almost unanimous choice for the best hockey player ever. "The Great One"
had an amazing career as an NHL player and has now jumped back into the game as head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. Gretzky who owns about 18% of the team will take over as coach from Rick Bowness who will stay on as an assitant along with Barry Smith and Rick Tocchet. Gretzky announced his move in a press conference this afternoon. "It's what I do best, to be involved in hockey," he said at a press conference in Glendale, Arizona. "I'm tremendously excited to be behind the bench. I'm really looking forward to the upcoming season." Gretzky will also serve as the club's managing partner and alternate governor, a role that he has performed for the past four years.
Avalanche hire Quenneville as head coach
Joel Quenneville is going home - back to Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche announced his hiring as their new head coach, taking over from Tony Granato. In a some what unexpected twist, Granato will stay on as an assistant to Quenneville. The Avalanche know Quenneville quite well as he was an assistant on the Stanley Cup winning squad coached by Marc Crawford. He then moved on as a head coach, leading the St. Louis Blues for the last six seasons to a 307-191-77-18 record and very highly regarded as a coach. The Colorado Avalanche
also announced that former assitant Rick Tocchet was leaving the team to spend more time with his family.
Ottawa Senators Hire Brian Murray as new Coach
The Ottawa Senators are a good young team, often considered a model NHL franchise when it comes to putting together a group of talented young players. Today they added a veteran coach to the mix by hiring Brian Murray who replaces Jacques Martin. Murray is best known as a long time coach of the Washington Capitals, a team that was consistently good under his tuteledge. His most recent stint in the NHL was as the General Manager of the Anaheim Might Ducks. Murray has also spent time as General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. This hiring should bring some much needed veteran leadership to a Senators club that has not been able to harness its talent for a sustained playoff run.