With Laviolette gone, here are latest coaches on hot seat

December, 4, 2008
Another day, another NHL coach fired. On Wednesday, the Hurricanes dropped the ax on Peter Laviolette, who led them to a Stanley Cup in 2006. Club ownership must have been convinced a change was necessary. Why else would they fire a coach with two-plus years left on his contract? With another coach gone, we felt obliged to update our list of coaches on the hot seat.

1. Craig MacTavish, Edmonton Oilers: Well, if you can fire the coach that led his team to the 2006 Cup, we figure you can fire the guy that he beat in that finals series. Like Laviolette, MacTavish hasn't been back to the playoffs since 2006. MacTavish, in his eighth season behind the bench, is among the most tenured coaches in the league. He has strong backing from team management, but the club does have a new owner. The Oilers came into the season with high expectations. On Thursday morning, they find themselves at the bottom of the Northwest Division. That's usually not a good place to be.

2. Paul Maurice, Carolina Hurricanes: Already? Well, he returns to Raleigh with no long-term contract and a legend (new associate coach Ron Francis) peering over his shoulder. Management and fans will want a quick turnaround. That sounds like a hot seat to us.

3. Dave Tippett, Dallas Stars: There are few more solid guys on the circuit that Tippett, and he has done a very good job since taking over in 2002. Still, the Stars are another team that came into the season with very high expectations. They didn't figure they'd be in the Western Conference basement on Dec. 4. In Dallas, club management usually proceeds with caution. That's a plus for Tippett; and he might get an extra pass because of the Sean Avery fiasco. At some point real soon, though, he has to get the team turned around.

4. Andy Murray, St. Louis Blues: There were rumblings he was losing the club in the second half of last season. Murray is an excellent coach, but he does have a tendency to wear on his players. Sometimes, coaches have to find ways to change. In the NFL, Giants coach Tom Coughlin was able to do it. If Murray can't evolve, he'll be toast.

5. Rick Tocchet, Tampa Bay Lightning: Aren't the Bolts due for another coaching change? The new ownership group has convinced itself it has pieced together a good team. Apparently, the group's definition of a good team doesn't include a strong group of defensemen. When ownership is so delusional and meddlesome, the coach is always on the hot seat.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.


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