The two teams entering the Stanley Cup Final have something in common. Not only have they both won 12 playoff games up to this point, but both teams have also gone from making a coaching change in the offseason to finding their way in the Stanley Cup Final.
The real Stanley Cup winner this year: coaching changes
The Vegas Golden Knights decided to move on from Pete DeBoer after his second full season with the team this past offseason. They decision might have been prompted slightly from seeing a coach like Bruce Cassidy hit the market after his time in Boston came to an end.
Vegas added Cassidy who coached them to their second best regular season in franchise history behind only the shortened 56 game season in 2020-21. Cassidy spent six years with the Bruins before being let go and ultimitely joining the Golden Knights. During his six years in Boston his team made the playoffs every year and made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 when they lost to the St. Louis Blues.
On the flip side of the things, the Florida Panthers chose to move on from interim head coach Andrew Brunette after he coached the team to a 51-18-6 record, good enough for the Presidents’ Trophy. The Panthers decided to bring in Paul Maurice, which might have seemed like a head scratcher at the time, but seems to be paying off this postseason.
Maurice resigned from his head coaching job with the Winnipeg Jets after just the first 29 games of the 2021-22 NHL season. The Jets went 13-11-5 at that time, but he decided that it was time for him to move on, and to bounce back immediately with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final has to be a big plus.
Maurice was with the Winnipeg Jets from the 2013-14 season until the 2021-22 season and during that time the best run his team had was a trip to the Conference Final in 2018, where they would lose to the Golden Knights.
No matter who wins the Stanley Cup this season, the winner will have come from a team that had just made a coaching change the summer prior. Most of the times we see coaching changes in the NHL it comes after some serious lack of success, but the Golden Knights and Panthers have shown just how important changing the messaging can be to help lead a team to success.
It is important to note that the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins both also had coaching changes this past summer. They too also had a great run this year after making that coaching change as well. Maybe we will see a team that makes a coaching change this summer head all the way to the Stanley Cup Final again this next year.