Buried in the news of Ron Francis being replaced as GM of the Carolina Hurricanes was the fact that it was the first major personnel decision of the 2017-18 season. It’s March, well beyond the three-quarter mark of the season, and there has been just one general manager fired (but promoted) and still no coaches. It’s rare to see so much inactivity, but it can likely be linked to the fact that the league’s worst teams – Arizona, Buffalo, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Montreal – all have first- or second-year coaches: Rick Tocchet, Phil Housley, Guy Boucher, Travis Green, and Claude Julien respectively. Unsurprisingly, USA Today’s Kevin Allen lists the head coaches of four of the next five worst teams as being on the hot seat as the end of the season approaches. That includes the Edmonton Oilers’ Todd McLellan, the Detroit Red Wings’ Jeff Blashill, the New York Rangers’ Alain Vigneault, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Joel Quenneville, and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Bill Peters. The most obvious inclusion on this list is Peters, who has an owner looking to make changes and soon a new GM, and has also struggled to get the most out of his talented roster. Quenneville would be the biggest news, should he be removed, as the longest-tenured coach in the NHL, since 2008, and a three-time Stanley Cup champion. The last name on the list who doesn’t quite fit the pattern is the Washington Capitals’ Barry Trotz. Trotz has yet to be offered a contract extension and his future could depend on the Caps’ playoff success this season. However, as Allen states, Trotz would be the prime coaching candidate this summer if he isn’t retained by Washington. As of right now, all of these coaches are safe, but things could change quickly with the season coming to a close. In the meantime, if you would like to apply for the open Hurricanes GM position, here you go.
- One thing that there has been plenty of in the league this season has been punishment handed down by the NHL Department of Player Safety, as the league has focused on cracking down on certain penalties. A player who has gained plenty of attention, fair or not, has been Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand. Marchand has finally spoken out after his most recent hit, a $2,000 fine for diving. Marchand spoke to the media, saying things like “it’s a small amount of money”, “it’s a joke”, “it’s pretty stupid” and “I don’t care about this.” He did go a step further though, adding “how are they (Player Safety) to tell …they go from being players to management and running the league pretty quickly and forget how to play the game.” While Marchand doesn’t seem to care much about a very minor fine, he is making a point that any fine for diving, the most subjective call in the game, is somewhat unreasonable, especially when the call comes from those who were not even present at the game.
- While the Bruins are continuing to win behind three straight game-winners from Marchand, their rivals in the Atlantic Division and the President’s Trophy race, the Tampa Bay Lightning, continue to win as well. They’ll get even better starting tonight, as their huge trade deadline acquisition, Ryan McDonagh, is set to make his debut with the team tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Head coach Jon Cooper told beat writer Bryan Burns that McDonagh is ready to go, after dealing with an upper-body injury for more than a month. McDonagh’s addition to the Bolts blue line makes them a scary team for anyone to go up against and that includes the Bruins, who play Tampa three more times this season and could very well meet them in the second round of the playoffs.