Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hired to Be Fired 2014-15

As sure as there are wins and losses (usually associated with the latter), there also will be change somewhere along the way between now and the end of June.

The day eventually comes for many NHL coaches, where they receive the phone call, or tap on the shoulder to go see the GM or owner.

A summons where the usual things are said, "you gave it a good shot, but we're going in a different direction", or variations of the theme.

Of the thirty members of the NHL coaching and managerial fraternity, sometime this year, maybe early, maybe late, the word will come that their services are no longer required.

We will provide the compilation of the summoned from this spot, listing those unlucky members of the club that find themselves outsourced in this 2014-15.

The archive of our list can be quickly referenced on our right hand side bar, in the Owner's Box section.

Tick, tock, tick, tock... the reaper stands ready...

The Listings to Date

January 6 -- Toronto Maple Leafs -- Randy Carlyle
December 28-- New Jersey Devils -- Peter DeBoer
December 15-- Edmonton Oilers -- Dallas Eakins
December 8-- Ottawa Senators -- Paul MacLean

The Reviews of the dismissals:

January 6 -- Toronto Maple Leafs -- Another season and yet more dysfunction for everyone's favourite go to squad for drama, as the Toronto Maple Leafs, once again tied a can to a coach and kicked him down the Gardiner Expressway.

Randy Carlyle it would seem not completely surprised by the latest of developments in Leaf land, having that feeling that coaches sometimes divine after a Saturday night loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

And as it turned out, his gut feeling was indeed on target, a Monday night text from GM Dave Nonis to attend the office on Tuesday for a discussion, Carlyle who was out of town at the time, instead requested a phone call, and with that news of his dismissal was delivered.

The Carlyle years to be counted among the coaching ghosts of the past, though anyone who thinks that were at the dawn of the Peter Horachek era, might want to not get too attached to the idea.

GM Dave Nonis explained that the team wasn't trending in the right direction and that the team felt that they needed to make an immediate change.

Like those before him, Randy Carlyle lost his job because those that were jumping over the boards shift after shift weren't performing at a standard that keeps coaches employed.

And while Carlyle doesn't believe that his players had tuned him out, the lapses on the ice surely indicate that if they weren't tuning him out, he wasn't exactly receiving their undivided attention.

One time Leaf coach Ron Wilson offered up some fingers and pointed, setting a range fire around the Leafs outpost, all while Carlyle was exiting the door.

Providing for just a bit more drama for Canada's media capital to focus on as they reviewed the events of last season and this and pondered where the next coach may come from, more than few pointing to a point at the very end of the 401 on the Michigan border.

That should make the rest of 2015 an interesting season, the players going through the motions for an interim coach, who clearly is just that.

As for the former coach, at some point the now former head coach will again take to back of the bench, the path ahead perhaps similar in nature to that of Barry Trotz and Bruce Boudreau, two recent refugees who found quick employment.

The Leafs, on the other hand enter yet another run towards the end of the season, one where the past once again is the present, same as it ever was...

The Maple Leafs outlined the background to their decision here, expanding on the theme with some notes from GM Nonis here. delivered word of the dismissal with this item.

December 26-- New Jersey Devils -- For Peter DeBoer the Christmas season of good cheer quickly shifted gears to one of what the heck?

That as Lou Mamoriello, watching his Devils team sputtering into the holiday break, made the decision to remove DeBoer and his assistant Dave Barr from the bench, replacing them with a committee featuring Adam Oates, Scott Stevens and Lamoriello himself as the new hands on the Devils tiller.

With the Devils lethargic play of December seeming to seal his fate, Lamoriello would appear to be hoping to use the shock of a Christmas dismissal to snap his faltering squad out of their scoring funk, with hopes that they can make up the difference from the post Christmas break to try and claw their way back from the nine point deficit that currently has them but a distant hope for playoff hockey in Newark.

Whether the triumvirate of coaching styles will work will remain to be seen, though one imagines that Oates and Stevens will defer to Lamoriello on most matters, until the President and GM follows through on his promise to step back at some time in the future.

For now he will be working the role of Supervisor behind the bench, monitoring his players (and his coaches we imagine) before he makes his return to the management box at the Prudential Centre.

However, the process for the short term, is one that reminds us of the old saying of camels being a horse designed by a committee.

You can take the camel to the water, but it's up to the beast to drink and so far this year, the Devils have shown little initiative to try and solve their struggles on ice.

Once the calendar flips into 2015, one thing however would be certain, a lack of effort on the ice or lack of interest in the dressing room will not go un-noticed by the coach, who is fairly familiar with the GM, travel arrangements for more than a few Devils may yet be on the horizon if New Jersey doesn't turn their season around fairly quickly into the new year.

The Devils website wasted few words in bidding farewell to the DeBoer era, with a one line notice, a slightly more expanded overview followed with the announcement of the new regime behind the bench in Newark.

NHL .com provided this overview of the post Christmas dismissal.

December 15 -- Edmonton Oilers -- The axe fell in Alberta, with Dallas Eakins dismissed by the Oilers after yet another year of lethargic starts for a team that many anticipated was set to finally reward the patience of the fans of the one time City of Champions, a title that hasn't had to be dusted off for a number of years now.

Eakins, became the fall guy for a team that never seemed to gel under his leadership, a squad that appears to be split into factions, each seemingly out of sync with the other, with placement in the standings giving way to individual showcasing, perhaps with a hope that an exit from Edmonton could be theirs if things continue on the path so far.

Eakins arrived in Edmonton as a highly anticipated teacher of youth, his work with the Toronto Marlies, made him a desired boss for the bench heading into his jump to the NHL, the Oilers deemed a good fit for him, though as the 2014-15 season has highlighted, sometimes things move beyond the control of a coach.

To his credit, to a fashion, GM Craig MacTavish took some of the responsibility for the Oilers latest implosion, acknowledging that the lineup handed over to Eakins was one designed by the Oiler GM,  though the blue print put in place less than two years ago hasn't provided for the foundation that the Oilers had hoped for.

The bulk of that responsibility should however be placed in the dressing room at Rexall Place, the chemistry of the players and a lack of focus on the task in front of them more than anything else has cost Eakins his job, as the old saying goes, you can't fire the entire team, though one day we imagine some GM might just put that adage to the test.

Moving forward the Oilers turn to Todd Nelson, promoted from Oklahoma City, familiar with some on the Oilers roster, the task for the interim head coach, to try and refuel some passion for the game from a team that at times tends to just go through the motions.

The real work will be up to MacTavish however, clearly he needs to move some bodies out of Edmonton, remove those that have lapsed into bad habits or worse, just don't care enough to play hard.

Making those moves however will be hard, opposing GM's know they will have the upper hand when it comes to negotiations, who well MacTavish can play poker perhaps, is a key to where the Oilers end up by the time April arrives.

The Oilers outlined the decision to relieve Eakins of his duties through this press release on their website.  That would be followed by the more optimistic outline for the road ahead with Todd Nelson at the helm.

NHL. com provided this review of Monday's developments

December 8, 2014 -- Ottawa Senators -- Of all the coaches that might have been on the hot seat, its doubtful that few would have selected the Senator's Paul MacLean as the most likely to break the ice in the dismissal notices for 2014-15.

Yet Monday morning, GM Bryan Murray delivered the verdict on Mr. MacLean's work with the announcement that he had replaced the four year veteran behind the Sens bench, with assistant coach Dave Cameron, who will assume the reins of the team for the remainder of the season.

The Senators for whatever reason had failed to respond to their coach in recent weeks, with a string of losses over the last few weeks, prior to Sunday's comeback victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Still, despite that impressive push back on Vancouver, the die it seems had already been cast to make the move to Cameron.  The new coach has roots with the Senators organization having previously coached their Binghamton farm club, as well as the one time Eugene Melnyk owned St Michael's Majors.

Cameron joined the Senators in an assistant's capacity in 2011. The indications out of Ottawa seem to be that perhaps with his past experience in building young teams and communicating with players still finding their game that he will be the right fit with a young Senators squad that has struggled through the 2014 season.

Still, the sudden shift away from MacLean will raise eyebrows, only two years ago the Senators coach was a Jack Adams winner, so some will suggest that any problems may be in the personnel assembled rather than the way they were handled.

For the most part the Senators appear to be indicating that the expectations of this season were not being met, with too many errors and recurring issues, including a growing uneasiness in the room that  left the GM no other choice than the one he made on Monday.

The Senators provided no official media release to their website regarding the change behind the bench, but did offer up this video review of Bryan Murray's press conference. provided this review of the day's activities.

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