Head Coaching Changes, Who Will Improve the Most?


There have been quite the flurry of head coaching changes in the NHL this off-season. Teams have dumped their old coaches and are looking to new boss benches to lead their teams into battle next season. Every team looks to improve from the last season, but between all of the teams that have made changes in the coaching position, which will do the best?

First we have the Colorado Avalanche. The Aves parted ways with head coach Joe Sacco after another disappointing season and brought in former goaltender Patrick Roy to help try and get the team going. The Aves finished last in the Western Conference, so there’s no getting worse right? Sacco and the Aves finished the season with a total of 39 points in 48 games which would mean in a full season, they would have finished with 67 points. Not too hard to improve on, right Roy?

Then there’s the Vancouver Canucks, who just recently announced John Tortorella as the new head coach. Torts coached in New York for a few seasons, and was fired after another disappointing playoff run. Vancouver found themselves in a similar situation after letting coach Alain Vigneault go after the season. The Canucks finished last season with a total of 59 points, which rounds out to 101 points. That’s a number that could be reached by the team that Tortorella has been given, but will they be able to overcome it?

Now on to Buffalo where Lindy Ruff was fired on the 20th of February and replaced by head coach Ron Rolston. Rolston coached the AHL’s Rochester American’s before. Buffalo is one of the league’s worst right now, just like Colorado. The process of rebuilding has begun, and Rolston has to step in and try to improve with what he has in his first full season as head coach of an NHL team. The Sabres had a total of 48 points in 48 games, making it easy to do the math that they only have to come up with 83 points to overcome next season.

The Dallas Stars fired Glen Gulutzan following another season of Dallas missing the playoffs. Former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was brought in to replace Gulutzan after the season had ended. Ruff inharited a team that is close, but not quite there. Maybe a little coaching change is all that is needed. Dallas finished the season last year with a total of 48 points. I feel like I just re-wrote the entire Buffalo paragraph. Anyway, 83 points is what Ruff will need to reach to improve on the Stars last season.

The good ol’ Edmonton Oilers let Ralph Krueger go after his first season of coaching an NHL team and decided to bring in head coach Dallas Eakins. Eakins was coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies before. This will be his first stint in the NHL as a head coach, and Edmonton loyalists hope it goes better for Eakins than it did for Krueger. Edmonton ended the season with 45 points last season. Eakins will have to lead the Oilers to a 77 point season to improve.

The New York Rangers are fed up with choking in the playoffs, and it led to a change in coaches this season, as Vancouver and New York seemingly swapped coaches. The Rangers fired John Tortorella and brought in Alain Vigneault as his replacement for next season. Vigneault will have the task of dealing with the stars that New York has brought in and never been able to really utilize. The Rangers ended the season with a total of 56 points. Vigneault will have to have a 96 point season to show improvement next year, although I don’t think it’s the regular season that has people so angry in New York.

Tampa Bay announced that they had let Guy Boucher go on March 24th. The Lightning replaced Boucher with Jon Cooper, who had been coaching the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate. Cooper finished the season, and is now heading into his first full season as an NHL head coach. Tampa Bay had only 40 points last season. Cooper will have to reach the 69 points this next year to improve from last years mark.

Now, most of these teams aren’t looking just for how the team improves in the regular season, but they’re looking for improvements in the post-season. With the exception of the Rangers and the Canucks, none of these teams have made the playoffs for the past two seasons. Most of them are looking for a change, something that can help propel them into the playoffs, and others, like Vancouver and New York, are looking for a way to finally grab a Stanley Cup.

The goals of these teams and their new head coaches may all be different, but which team do you think will show the most improvement with their new head coach next season?