At least one NHL head coach has been fired by Dec. 8 since the 2013-14 season, with an average of four getting dismissed before the conclusion of the 82-game schedule. None of the league's 31 teams have made anyone walk the plank yet in 2017-18, but there are a few head coaches, and even a couple of general managers, feeling the heat just two months into the campaign.
The Canadian Press takes a look at some of the coaches and GMs who could be in trouble if things don't turn around soon.
The head coach of the Edmonton Oilers became increasingly frustrated as the club picked by many to challenge for the Stanley Cup this season stumbled badly out of the gate. Edmonton was on a two-game winning streak — including a 3-2 overtime victory against lowly Arizona earlier this week — heading into Thursday's action after losing five straight in regulation and seven of eight overall (1-6-1). But the Oilers, who sit second-last in the Western Conference with a 10-13-2 record, remain five points out of a playoff spot. Perhaps more importantly, Connor McDavid's club will have to climb over five teams to reach the post-season after making the second round last spring.
Hakstol made the playoffs in his first year as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, but the club missed out in 2016-17, and is currently on an ugly nine-game losing streak (0-4-5) after starting this season 8-6-2. Fans seem to have had enough, booing the team off the ice in Tuesday's 3-1 home loss to San Jose and chanting for Hakstol to be fired. The Flyers currently occupy last place in the Metropolitan Division, six points out of the second wild-card spot in the East. Goaltending — what else is new in Philadelphia? — continues to be an issue, with the club ranking 20th in goals against per game. The offence has been even worse, coming in at 21st overall.
Picked by many to finally snap their streak of eight straight seasons without playoff hockey, the Carolina Hurricanes are four points adrift in the East race. Peters, in his fourth year as head coach, has the Hurricanes as the No. 1 possession team in the league at even strength with a 55.23 per cent edge in shot attempts. While those numbers suggest Carolina is playing well, the wins haven't followed, and a fourth straight campaign without post-season hockey could be tough to survive.
While it would be unusual to see a general manager dismissed during the regular season, the man in charge of the Edmonton Oilers is taking a lot of criticism for the play of the team he's built. As noted above, the club hasn't come close to meeting expectations more than a quarter of the way through the season. Chiarelli earlier this week pointed to "subpar" goaltending from Cam Talbot, who was put on injured reserve Thursday, and general inconsistency throughout the rest of his roster among the reasons why the Oilers rank 27th in goals against per game and 26th in goals scored. He suggested some changes could be coming, but the GM has painted himself into a corner with a number of moves that have been called into question, including deals the last two summers that saw talented forwards Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle shipped out of town.
The general manager of the Montreal Canadiens is breathing a little easier now that Carey Price is back healthy. Montreal has won three in a row since their superstar goalie returned from a lower-body injury that kept him out for 10 straight games, but remains a point out of the playoffs in the sluggish Atlantic Division race. The Canadiens have good possession numbers at even strength — ranking fifth in the league at 52.22 per cent — but sit 30th in goals scored per game. Head coach Claude Julien signed a contract through the 2021-22 season when he was hired in February, so it's unlikely he would be going anywhere should Montreal falter. Bergevin, meanwhile, has made the playoffs three of his four seasons in charge, but like Chiarelli has come under increased scrutiny for some of his trades and signings.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press