This feature is part of our bi-weekly look at the NHL, which appears every other Sunday on Page 2 of the print edition.
With the NHL season just past its midpoint, seven of the league’s 30 teams have already fired their coach.
The latest dismissal was Monday, when the moribund Columbus Blue Jackets put Scott Arniel out of his misery and replaced him with assistant coach Todd Richards, who, of course, was fired as Minnesota’s head coach 10 months ago.
So, to recap, nearly a quarter of the league’s teams have a new coach.
Can you name them all? If not, you’ve come to the right place.
Oh, and before get started, we’ve got a word of advice for the new guys: Keep your realtor’s phone number handy.
St. Louis Blues
Current: Ken Hitchcock
Record since change (through Thursday’s games): 19-5-6
A kinder, gentler Hitchcock is pressing all the buttons Payne did not. On Thursday, the Blues, who were 6-7-0 when Hitchcock brought his short-shift, high-intensity system to town, hosted Vancouver with first place in the Western Conference on the line. You know what else is making Hitchcock look like a genius? Goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott.
Current: Dale Hunter
Record since change (through Thursday’s games): 10-8-1
Boudreau paid the price when the Capitals’ talented and high-priced roster hit the skids in late November. That slide, coupled with the team’s repeated postseason failures and Alex Ovechkin’s protracted slump, spelled the end for Boudreau. Ovechkin and his teammates been better under Hunter, particularly defensively, and with Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh re-entered the playoff picture.
Current: Kirk Muller
Record since change (through Thursday’s games): 7-10-3
Less than two hours after Boudreau’s ouster, slumps by captain Eric Staal and former Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward led to Maurice getting fired by the Hurricanes for the second time in seven seasons. Muller, who captained the Montreal team that won the Stanley Cup in 1993, is off to a slow start, but he’s widely considered a talented up-and-comer in the coaching ranks.
Two days after Boudreau was fired in Washington, he was hired in Anaheim in the hopes that his softer approach might turnaround a talent-laden team that had tuned out tough-talking Carlyle. It was expected that forwards Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne would immediately thrive in Boudreau’s up-tempo offense, but the adjustment has taken longer than anticipated.
Los Angeles Kings
Current: Darryl Sutter
Record since change (through Thursday’s games): 8-3-4
GM Dean Lombardi reportedly ripped his underachieving players moments after he fired Murray in mid-December. After handing the reins to interim coach John Stevens for four games, Lombardi hired old friend Sutter, who, ironically, made his debut against Boudreau’s Ducks. The Kings have earned points in 10 of 11 games under Sutter and are back in the playoff race.
Current: Randy Cunneyworth (interim)
Record since change (through Thursday’s games): 3-8-0
After a string of late game collapses and uninspired performances, GM Pierre Gauthier fired Martin, whose stodgy public persona and defensive-minded system had run its course. One gets the sense that Cunneyworth, who had been Martin’s assistant, might turn around the Habs but still not get the gig because he is not fluent in French. That hasn’t happened in 40 years.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Current: Todd Richards (interim)
Record since change (through Thursday’s games): 0-1-0
Arniel was canned on Monday after the Blue Jackets hit the season’s midpoint mired at the bottom of the NHL. The team started the season 2-12-1, but GM Scott Howson stuck with his guy, which caused plenty of head-scratching around the league. Richards’s future like won’t be decided until ownership decides Howson’s.