With the playoffs approaching and the trade deadline long gone I decided to give my opinion on which NHL coaches and GM's should be on the hotseat between now and next season.
1.) Bob Gainey, Head Coach/GM, MON -
Gainey was so upset with the fact that his team was only in 5th place after the trade deadline that he fired a well-respected Guy Carbonneau and named himself as the interim head coach. It has taken far too long for the Canadiens to get themselves back into playoff conteder form, and they'll be lucky to come away with an eighth place birth and a first round matchup with arch-rival Boston. If they fail to make it I can't see the ownership being too happy. They've already had to deal with the fans chanting "Carbo! Carbo!" as the Habs lost another one.
2.) Ray Shero, GM, PIT -
Shero failed to keep last year's team together. He let go of or traded away Adam Hall, Jarkko Ruutu, Gary Roberts, Ryan Malone, Georges Laraque, Ty Conklin and Marian Hossa. To rebuild the team he brought in Miroslav Satan (now playing in the AHL), Matt Cooke and Ruslan Fedotenko. Both Satan and Fedotenko were signed to one-year deals. Dany Sabourin was called up to replace Conklin, Daryl Sydor was traded for Philippe Boucher, then Sabo was dealt away for Mathieu Garon. Shero added insult to injury signing Jordan Staal to a four-year extension for top-six forward money when Staal is still not playing as a top-six forward.
Shero may have redeemed himself with his crafty deadline deal for Bill Guerin and the deal made for Chris Kunitz. The firing of Michel Therrien, however, hurt Shero's case to keep his job. Without Therrien, Shero has no one to make a scapegoat if the team doesn't finish well. Even if they do, he still has to find ways to rebuild next year. Guerin, Boucher, Garon, Satan, Fedotenko, Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi and Petr Sykora are all unrestricted free agents this summer, along with seven players from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski will be a restricted free agent. That's alot of guys not signed for next year, and Shero still has to decide on a coach.
3.) Doug Wilson, GM, SJS -
Yes the Sharks have topped 50 wins for the second time in franchise history, and yes they are close to winning their first President's Trophy as the leagues top regular season team. But, like Shero, Wilson doesn't have a fall guy if the Sharks don't make it past the second round. Todd McClellan has done well as a rookie coach, but I believe that Ron Wilson could have done just as well with the same team.
The common themes here are that all three men are GM's and that all three have fired the head coach within the last year. It's true that it is easier to replace one coach than 20 players, but it's also true that once that coach is gone the GM has to watch out for his job because he's the next person in line to catch the blame.