NHL

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NHL coaching carousel goes round and round

When going gets tough, bench bosses get fired

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With the NHL season just past its midpoint, seven of the league's 30 teams have already fired their coach.

The latest dismissal was last 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 you get started, we've got a word of advice for the new guys: Keep your realtor's phone number handy. (Records are through Thursday's games.)

 

St. Louis Blues

Former: Davis Payne

Current: Ken Hitchcock

Record since change: 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 who else is making Hitchcock look like a genius? Goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott.

 

Washington Capitals

Former: Bruce Boudreau

Current: Dale Hunter

Record since change: 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 post-season failures and Alex Ovechkin's protracted slump, spelled the end for Boudreau. Ovechkin and his teammates have been better under Hunter, particularly defensively, and after Wednesday's 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh re-entered the playoff picture.

 

Carolina Hurricanes

Former: Paul Maurice

Current: Kirk Muller

Record since change: 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.

 

Anaheim Ducks

Former: Randy Carlyle

Current: Bruce Boudreau

Record since change: 6-12-0

Two days after Boudreau was fired in Washington, he was hired in Anaheim in the hopes that his softer approach might turn around 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 offence, but the adjustment has taken longer than anticipated.

 

Los Angeles Kings

Former: Terry Murray

Current: Darryl Sutter

Record since change: 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 nine of 10 games under Sutter and are back in the playoff race.

 

Montreal Canadiens

Former: Jacques Martin

Current: Randy Cunneyworth*

Record since change: 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.

Columbus Blue Jackets

 

Former: Scott Arniel

Current: Todd Richards*

Record since change: 0-1-0

Arniel was cannedlast 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' future likely won't be decided until ownership decides Howson's.

* interim

 

-- Washington Post

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 16, 2012 C2

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