Hitting another timeline milestone on the NHL season at the halfway mark means its time to revisit the NHL coaches on the hotseat list. Surprisingly, there has yet to be a single coaching change across the league this season. Which is unusual, as often there are a couple by the end of the calendar year. Some names familiar to these lists are joined by some new ones coaching teams struggling in a variety of ways.
DJ Smith, Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators were supposed to be a somewhat competitive team this season. But as of the halfway mark, they sit second last in the Atlantic Division with 43 points in 44 games. The team’s overall performance is underwhelming at best. A lack of depth scoring is causing major issues for a team with poor defensive structure.
D.J. Smith is in his fourth season coaching the Senators now. Although the team is technically seeing improvement over last season in points percentage, it is not nearly enough. Often times, the coach who guides a team through a rebuild does not get to see the whole process through. And very soon, it may be the time for a coaching change to propel the Senators through the rest of their rebuild.
Dallas Eakins, Anaheim Ducks
The only coach to appear on the offseason NHL coaches on the hotseat list and quarter-way mark list, Dallas Eakins makes yet another appearance on these lists. The Anaheim Ducks are 31st in the league with 29 points in 45 games, on pace for the fifth-worst season in the salary cap era.
And while the roster he has to work with is nothing special, the Ducks do have a handful of good pieces and teams with less have done way more. Adding in Eakins’ history as a coach (it is notable that this is not even his worst season somehow), and it’s a fairly logical conclusion that while the entire disaster of a season is not his fault, he is definitely not helping matters.
At this point, it is only a matter of time before the Ducks’ front office decides they are ready to turn the corner on their rebuild and gets rid of Eakins. It would not be surprising if they let him coach out the season for a fresh start in 2023-24, but giving someone an interim label as a trial run for the final third of this season could be a good way to vet a future coach.
Paul Maurice, Florida Panthers
It was a confusing move when the Florida Panthers, who had one of the best regular seasons in decades, decided not to retain interim head coach Andrew Brunette and went a different direction with hiring Paul Maurice. Sure enough, that move appears to be one of the contributing factors to the struggles that the Florida Panthers are facing halfway through the season.
The season for the Panthers is nothing short of a major disappointment. They go from winning the President’s Trophy in 2021-22 to very likely missing the playoffs the next, a major case of the one-hit wonders. Although some of the roster moves over the past couple of seasons are contributing to this, the questionable change in head coach is one more factor.
The Florida Panthers should have a very short leash at the moment as they were supposed to be in the middle of their competitive window. But at this point, they look more like one-hit wonders than legit competitors. The season is not out of reach quite yet for the Panthers, if they hit a hot streak at the right time. But that window is rapidly closing as the wild card spot in the Eastern Conference are pulling further and further away.
Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver Canucks
The hype and mania surrounding Bruce Boudreau’s entry to the Vancouver Canucks organization was incredibly short lived. The team seemed to pull through from a difficult start and began finding a bit of a groove, but a couple of rough weeks have brought everything crashing down around them.
Unfortunately for Boudreau, he is going to be a casualty and take the fall for a poorly run organization with terrible asset management. The roster that he is supposed to make work is terribly composed, continually getting worse, and will only become more challenging to manage as some of the team’s better and more appreciated players get traded away.
Hockey insiders are reporting that a coaching change is impending in Vancouver sometime in the near future. Boudreau may be the first coaching casualty of the 2022-23 season.
Those are four NHL coaches on the hotseat at the halfway mark of the season. Who would you add to this list? Drop a comment down below!
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