NHL Head Coaches on the Hot Seat at the Quarter Mark of the Season

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The quarter-way mark of the 2022-23 season is upon us and that means it’s a good time to take another look at some NHL head coaches on the hot seat.

Usually, around this time, the first batch of coaching changes of the season takes place. There are always some teams woefully underperforming and others that might just need a boost to help them from falling too far behind.

So, here are four NHL head coaches on the hot seat at the quarter-mark of the season.

DJ Smith, Ottawa Senators

Despite a vote of confidence from GM Pierre Dorion and team captain Brady Tkachuk taking the blame and putting it on the players, DJ Smith is likely to be the first to go if the Ottawa Senators do not turn things around soon.

With the moves that the Senators made over the offseason, it is clear they are wanting to turn things around and begin competing for a playoff spot again. But instead, the Senators are second last in the league and quickly losing ground in a tough Atlantic Division.

If Dorion waits too long to make a change, the season will for sure be a lost cause, if it isn’t already. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with having a bit of patience while the team finds its chemistry and gels a bit. After all, there have been a lot of changes over the last few years.

What the Senators do have going for them is an almost even goal differential and positive possession stats, indicating they aren’t exactly getting blown out and dominated entirely. In their last eight losses, only one was by more than two goals.

Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver Canucks

It appears as though the fun energy and anticipation surrounding Bruce Boudreau with the Vancouver Canucks was short-lived as his position with the team is already in jeopardy. Although the team has rebounded a bit from its league-worst start and now sits just three points out of a playoff spot.

A lot of the Canucks’ struggles are completely unrelated to the coaching, unfortunately, so Boudreau would be a casualty caught in the cross-fire were he fired. The roster composition (particularly on defense) is awful and basically, a set up for failure. And Thatcher Demko, who stole countless games for the Canucks in past seasons, is currently one of the worst goaltenders in the league this season.

How much of this is Boudreau’s fault? Not much, really. But the coach will be the first to go, especially if the managers want to bring in their guy or a more defensively-minded coach to help the Canucks play a more shut-down game.

Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins

It is incredibly unlikely that Mike Sullivan is going to be fired. However, the context and situation surrounding his Pittsburgh Penguins right now is the exact timing that could lead to a coaching change.

The Penguins are nearing the edge of their competitive window with an aging core and a lackluster prospect pool to replace them. Very shortly, perhaps even this season, the Penguins will no longer be a contender or even a playoff team.

The management and ownership will want to milk whatever they can out of the roster while they still have the ability to, hence the timing for a coaching change. NHL head coaches are very often the first person to go when a shake-up is needed.

Pittsburgh is currently sitting out of the playoff picture. They haven’t missed the playoffs since 2005-06 (unless you count losing the play-in round in the 2020 playoffs). Sullivan may be replaced if the organization wants to try and get one more playoff run.

Dallas Eakins, Anaheim Ducks

Dallas Eakins is the only holdover from the NHL head coaches on the hot seat article from the summer. The Anaheim Ducks weren’t expected to be major competitors this season, but they were definitely expected to do better than dead last in the league.

Through their first 19 games, the Ducks only have 11 points. They’ve only scored 50 goals, a rate good for bottom five in the league. And they have given up a league-worst 82 goals, leading to an also league-worst -32 goal differential.

Eakins is in his fourth season behind the bench for the Ducks and his second chance with an NHL coaching job has to be running out soon. Especially since GM Pat Verbeek did not hire him. Usually, the new GM wants to bring in his own guy.

With how awful this team’s start has been, Eakins may get the rest of the season so the Ducks can start fresh in 2023-24. But a coaching change before the Christmas break would also give Verbeek a chance to test out a new coach in the interim.

Those are four NHL head coaches on the hot seat at the quarter way mark of the 2022-23 season. Who would you add to this list? Drop a comment down below!

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Sean is a lifelong, stubborn Oilers fan who somehow still has hope that next season will be the year. Hockey is his biggest interest and hobby, so he follows the whole league as closely as he can.