Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hired to Be Fired 2015-16

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 2015-16.

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

February 13 -- Minnesota Wild -- Mike Yeo
December 12 -- Pittsburgh Penguins -- Mike Johnston
October 21 -- Columbus Blue Jackets -- Richard Todd

The Reviews of the Dismissals

February 13 -- Minnesota Wild -- With a team sliding down the standings like a car on a Minnesota hill in snowstorm, the Minnesota Wild made a coaching change on Saturday, dismissing Mike Yeo from his duties and bringing John Torchetti over from their Iowa  farm club to steer the team for the remainder of the season.

Torchetti is becoming a bit of a transition specialist, having taken over on interim terms twice before in Florida and Los Angeles, with a stint in Russia as well taking a year to learn the ways of the Kontinental Hockey League.  His shift over to the Wild is something that GM Chuck Fletcher hopes will  reverse the spiral of a Minnesota team that had lost 13 of their previous 14 games prior to the decision to let Yeo go, the most recent slide featured eight games of losses as the Wild tumbled downwards in the Central Division.

Through January and into this month, there seemed to be a growing disconnect between the coach's hopes and the players performance, making the Wild and easy spot on the schedule as the losses began to mount and the frustrations bubble out of the dressing room.

Yeo was in the midst of his fifth season with the team, holding a 173 - 132 - 44 record in the regular season and directing the team to three playoff seasons, the high point of his time with the Wild last year when the team compiled the second most wins and points in franchise history.

That was then, today was the now, with the Wild showing no signs of turning around the horrors of 2016, they will look to Torchetti to try and salvage the season and find a way to lift the team into the NHL playoff race, with an eye on at least climbing back into the Wild Card race.

The announcement from the Wild can be reviewed here, while the NHL.com story on his dismissal can be found here.

December 12 -- Pittsburgh Penguins -- The Struggling Penguins will wait no longer for the under achieving squad to turn things around, with General Manager Jim Rutherford deciding that a change was required behind the bench and relieving head coach Mike Johnston of his duties on Saturday, announcing that  Assistant Coach Gary Agnew would also be leaving the organization.

Johnston in his second year as the bench boss in Pittsburgh could not it seems find the right buttons to push to get all of his players on the same page this year. With the Penguins who barely made it into the playoffs last year, continuing to show uninspired play and falling further and further off the pace over the course of the first three months of 2015-16.

With a record of 15-10 and 3 so far, the Pens currently are a fifth place team in the Metropolitan Division, 9th overall in the Eastern Conference, and from their recent play it appeared that they were as likely to drop down the listings, as they are to move up at this point.

It was that uncertainty that led the Penguins to call up Mike Sullivan from their  AHL farm club in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but it most likely is his resume from the NHL that  brings him back to the ranks of the head coaching brethren, with previous time as head coach in Boston and a string of assistant's jobs in Tampa Bay, Vancouver and with the Rangers.

Prior to his time with the Pens in the AHL, Sullivan spent last season in Chicago as a player development coach with the Stanley Cup champs.

And while Johnston and Agnew may be gone, he changes aren't wholesale, with Rick Tocchet and Jacques Martin still part of the coaching component, though with Martin moving to the bench from his previous position as a special assistant, the number of years of NHL experience now found along the boards should help to settle things down for the short term.

The Penguins have been a team of mystery for much of the season to this point, the early struggles of Sidney Crosby, meshing with the occasional observation from Evgeni Malkin that the team was not meshing very well.

Those would appear to have been the two major indicators perhaps that coach Johnston was not finding a way to get his message across, or  offering up the first hint that his team had stopped hearing it, or never really bought into the program he was trying to install there.

Sullivan will have a bit of time to try and reverse the Penguins drift towards the bottom, Penguin fans get their first look at what he may have in mind on Monday when Pittsburgh hosts the Capitals.

The Penguins announcement can be reviewed here, while the NHL announcement is available here.

October 21-- Columbus Blue Jackets -- Less than one month into the 2015-16 season Columbus was the first team to blink when it comes to a horrid start and the need to shake up a team that seems to have little in the way of confidence.

With an 0-7 record and 30 goals against and counting, the Blue Jackets decided that they couldn't wait for coach Todd Richards to turn around his floundering squad, dismissing him following Tuesday night's loss to the Islanders and bringing a coach who found much of his fame while coaching in New York City.

Wednesday afternoon the Blue Jackets introduced John Tortorella as the teams new head coach, paying a price in a draft pick and a few dollars to clear his file from his days with the Vancouver Canucks.

Turtler takes over a team that has more than a few concerns to straighten out, starting with their goaltending issues, defensive play and lethargic scoring punch to this point. Whether the Tortorella approach will prove the best method to achieve some of those goals will play out through the rest of the season.

And while as Tortorella probably can best attest to, nothing is permanent, he has in his pocket now a three year deal, something that his players will take note of we imagine, with the understanding that he'll be in town for awhile, some of them, perhaps not as long.

The main focus for the new bench boss is to try and get a team that was anticipated to be a playoff contender to that placement by the end of this year. Should he be able to turn an 0-7 start into a playoff run, then one would imagine a lot of the baggage of the past will quickly be forgotten by Blue Jackets fans.

The Columbus announcement can be reviewed here, while the NHL.com announcement is available here.

You can review our notes on today's developments from the Metropolitan Division here.

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