Two more coaches were handed their walking papers last week, as the New York Islanders fired Steve Stirling and the Montreal Canadiens dispatched Claude Julien. While that's not a position utilized in fantasy leagues, it's important to take stock of an NHL team anytime it makes a change at the head coaching position.
If you doubt the impact of the coaching change, which has historically been proven to inspire a team both in the standings and on an individual statistical level, take a look at the New Jersey Devils' performance the past two weeks. Since the resignation of Larry Robinson, new coach/general manager Lou Lamoriello has led the team to a six-game winning streak. Those within the Devils' camp indicate that under Lamoriello's guidance, the team has gotten back to its former elite defensive scheme, and that's great news for fantasy owners. Martin Brodeur owners, for one, have certainly been smiling recently.
Of course, one could also point to the Pittsburgh Penguins, now 3-8-3 under new coach Michel Therrien, as evidence that a switch doesn't always turn a team around. But a closer look at Pittsburgh's roster indicates plenty of room for encouragement, with several youngsters playing markedly better under new leadership. Michel Ouellet, for instance, has 11 goals in 14 games since Therrien took over; Sidney Crosby has 20 points in 15 games.