Depth ruins another good night, Maple Leafs lose 3-2 in Vegas
Changes are available to be made.In the second period, the bottom-six of the lineup got murdered up and down the ice, and it seemed to kill all the momentum gained from a good start. The third line redeemed themselves with a good third period, including a goal from Jason Spezza and a great chance from Nic Petan, but the fourth line was irredeemable.
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It has been a whirlwind few weeks in the NHL coaching ranks. After the Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock back on November 20, several former players used the opportunity to criticize the veteran coach’s tactics and the way he treated some of his players. Former NHLer Akim Aliu used these comments as a jumping-off point to make his own accusations of mistreatment against former AHL coach and then-Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters. Aliu’s recollection of racists epithets from Peters while with AHL Rockford were also echoed by stories of physical abuse from former players of Peters with the Carolina Hurricanes and confirmed by current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’amour. Peters ended up resigning last week. The latest coach to be exposed is Chicago Blackhawks assistant Marc Crawford, who faces allegations of physical abuse from some of his former players with the Los Angeles Kings. Crawford has left the team temporarily while under investigation.
Brady questionable vs. Cowboys with elbow injury
If Brady's elbow doesn't heal up by Sunday, it could be the Jarret Stidham show as the Patriots take on the Cowboys.Due to what the team is calling a right elbow injury, the Patriots are listing QB Tom Brady as questionable for Sunday’s matchup against the Cowboys. Jarrett Stidham is Brady’s backup.
The behavior of coaches has been brought to the forefront of NHL headlines and is not going to be a conversation that disappears quickly. In fact, the NHL Coaches’ Association – which ironically includes Babcock and Peters as executive members – addressed these ongoing issues with a statement earlier today:
We believe the NHL is a league built on hard work, respect, and teamwork. It is a coach’s job to understand how best to motivate players while respecting them as individuals and valuing them as people. Coaching philosophies differ from coach to coach, and season to season, but there are lines that cannot be crossed and there is certainly no room in the NHL, or anywhere else, for abusive behavior of any kind… The NHLCA is committed to working with the NHL and NHLPA to ensure respectful working environments for everyone.
Merzlikins’s late mistake costs Blue Jackets as Jets squeeze past Columbus, 4-3
There goes the three-game winning streakMerzlikins, in his fifth start (all on the road), fielded a long dump from Winnipeg. Merzlikins, less than calmly, attempted to fling the puck out of the zone for a clear but found Andrew Copp instead. Copp threw the puck back past a swimming Merzlikins for the deciding goal as Winnipeg won a game that belonged to Columbus for much of the night.
TSN’s Darren Dreger adds that coach behavior will be the biggest topic of conversation among NHL owners at the upcoming Board of Governors meeting in California next week. He believes that coach behavior has never been scrutinized to this extent and that these meetings could produce a substantive change to how coaches are governed by the NHL. Commissioner Gary Bettman has already met with Aliu, who came away from the meeting with a positive reaction and a feeling that changes are coming. One possible shift, suggested by Dreger’s colleague Bob McKenzie, is enhanced vetting when hiring coaches and deeper background checks, including interviews with former players and assistants. One way or another, these incidences and allegations have made clear that there has been an ongoing issue related to coach behavior in the NHL that has flown under the radar but now must be addressed.
Kings D Alec Martinez has surgery after taking skate to wrist
Martinez, 32, was widely considered one of the Kings’ best trade chips this season as he approaches unrestricted free agency. Signed through the end of the 2020-21 season and carrying a cap hit of $4M, he could be considered a a real target for teams looking to upgrade their defense at the deadline.Now with him on the sideline, the Kings may be forced to keep him through the end of the season if the injury affects his trade value. While he is certainly a welcome piece if the Kings have any ideas of contending for a playoff spot, this is obviously a rebuild from the Los Angeles organization.
Related slideshow: NHL players, coaches, GMs already on hot seat (Provided by Yardbarker)
NHL players, coaches, GMs already on hot seat
With the Toronto Maple Leafs' firing of Mike Babcock, we have already seen one of the bigger coaching changes in the NHL this season. Babcock was the highest-paid coach in the league, the biggest name behind a bench and the person who was supposed to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Toronto. It did not work out, it had not been working for a while, and the change seemed inevitable after another postseason disappointment and the slow start to this season. It will not be the only major change made by a team this season. Here we take a look at some NHL players, coaches and GMs who are also on the hot seat. Note: This list does not include Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters, who is currently embroiled in a controversy that will likely cost him his job.
Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning (head coach)
Overall, Cooper's tenure in Tampa Bay has been successful. The Lightning have been one of the winningest teams in the regular season, they have had deep playoff runs (Stanley Cup Final, two other Eastern Conference Final appearances) and won a Presidents' Trophy with a record-tying 62 wins, all within the past five years. But their inability to close out playoff series and then getting swept in Round 1 a year ago in one of the most stunning upsets in Stanley Cup Playoff history, plus a slow start this season has no doubt put Cooper on his hottest seat yet. A coaching change is the one significant card this ultra-talented team has to play.
Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks (general manager)
All eyes are on Bowman in Chicago. The Blackhawks have missed the playoffs two years in a row, they fired their future Hall of Fame and three-time Stanley Cup-winning head coach (Joel Quenneville) and attempted to retool around their core this summer by adding several players to the defense. So far not much of it has worked. A third consecutive non-playoff season should put even more pressure on Bowman than he is already facing.
John Hynes, New Jersey Devils (Head coach)
This is Hynes' fifth season behind the Devils bench, and to date he has made the playoffs one time. Given all of the talent the Devils added over the summer, expectations were significantly higher this season and the team has — to this point — failed to deliver on them. The most disappointing part of their season is the fact they have lost four games in which they held multiple-goal leads.
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Bruce Boudreau, Minnesota Wild (head coach)
This just seems to be a matter of when, and not if. You know at some point that first-year general manager Bill Guerin is going to want to bring in his own coach, and with the Wild stuck near the bottom of the NHL standings, it is worth wondering if the team will look to make a change in season. Boudreau is an excellent coach, but he does not have much to work with in Minnesota, and it might just be time for all parties involved to get a fresh start elsewhere.
Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings (head coach)
Who would have ever guessed that Blashill would last longer in Detroit than Mike Babcock did in Toronto? That is exactly what has happened, though, as Blashill remains behind the bench for the Red Wings. But how much longer will he be there? It is impossible to put the team's struggles on him given the state of the roster, but this is going to be a fourth consecutive non-playoff season for him, the team has one of the worst records in the league and new general manager Steve Yzerman is going to eventually want his own coach.
Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks (goalie)
The Sharks one Achilles' heel remains in net where the duo of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell is again among the league's worst. This is a Stanley Cup-caliber team if it can get some saves. Jones and Dell have not yet shown an ability to do that on a consistent basis.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Los Angeles Kings (forward)
Considering the fact the Kings have pretty much already relegated him to a permanent healthy scratch, it seems that "hot seat" might be underselling his current status with the team. Following a six-year stop in the KHL, the Kings brought Kovalchuk back to the NHL at the start of the 2018-19 season by signing him to a three-year, $18 million contract. It has proved to be a rather poor fit from the beginning. He never gained the trust of the previous coaching staff and does not really fit in the Kings' current long-term plans as they look to rebuild. The only question that remains now is what team he finishes the season with because it will almost certainly not be the Kings.
Kyle Turris, Nashville Predators (forward)
A few years ago he was general manager David Poile's big in-season acquisition and was supposed to be one of the final pieces of a Stanley Cup puzzle. The Predators immediately signed him to a long-term contract extension and made him a central part of their team. The results have not been what anyone involved expected, and now Turris has found himself as a healthy scratch on occasion this season while his production continues to decline. The Predators are paying him $6 million per year and not getting much of a return at the moment.
Alex Galchenyuk, Pittsburgh Penguins (Forward)
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is quick to move on from mistakes, and if Galchenyuk does not start producing more offense he might find himself as the latest example. Acquired in the offseason trade that sent Phil Kessel to Arizona, Galchenyuk went 14 games to begin the 2019-20 season before finally scoring a goal and really has not provided any of the offense the Penguins were hoping to get from him. With his contract up at the end of this season, it would not take much for the Penguins to move on with a trade.
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Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers (Goalie)
When the Panthers signed Bobrovsky to a seven-year, $70 million contract in free agency, it was generally accepted that it was going to be a significant long-term risk. He might still be really good for a few years and help get the Panthers back in the playoffs, but what would his career look like on the back end of that contract? So far the Panthers aren't even getting the short-term gain that was expected. Bobrovsky is off to one of the worst starts of his career and has not looked anything like the two-time Vezina Trophy winner the Panthers thought they were getting. Given his contract the Panthers don't really have many options other than hoping he figures it out and gets back on track.
Ray Shero, New Jersey Devils (general manager)
The head coach is not the only person on the hot seat in New Jersey. Shero went all in this offseason on trying to fix his roster, but he made the costly mistake of not fixing the team's biggest issue: goalie. He also has to deal with the Taylor Hall contract and decide whether he can get him re-signed, and if not, whether he has to trade his best player and a former league MVP.
Jason Botterill, Buffalo Sabres (general manager)
Botterill hasn't had a lot of time to fully build a team in Buffalo, but ownership is desperate for a competitive team. The Sabres have already made another coaching change, tweaked the roster and have enough core building blocks in place that some meaningful progress should be made. They had a great start to the 2018-19 season before falling apart in the second half and are in danger of going in a similar direction this season. That will not be good news for the general manager.
Peter Laviolette, Nashville Predators (Head coach)
Laviolette is an outstanding coach and if the Predators ever decided to go in a different direction, he would not have to wait long for his next head coaching job. But every coach has a shelf life, and with the Predators off to a disappointing start — after taking a step back a year ago — it is fair to wonder if Laviollete and Nashville have reached their ceilings together. This seems like a classic "we need a change to shake things up" situation.
The Dallas Stars top line
The duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are not really in danger of going anywhere, but the pressure is on them to perform because for the second year in a row they have found themselves the target of internal criticism for their play. A year ago it came from CEO Jim Lites (in a rather profane manner), and this year it is from head coach Jim Montgomery (before he later apologized). In both cases the criticism was probably a little unfair, but those are the stakes when you are the highest-paid and most visible players on the team.
Travis Green, Vancouver Canucks (head coach)
Green hasn't done a bad job in Vancouver, and he hasn't always had a great team to work with, but it all comes down to results. Ask yourself this question: How many head coaches get three years in a row without making the playoffs before being replaced? That is what Green would be looking at this season if the Canucks do not qualify in the Western Conference. It would probably take a huge meltdown for an in-season change to happen, but if they end up missing again, an offseason change could be on the horizon.
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Peter DeBoer, San Jose Sharks (Head coach)
The Sharks under DeBoer have been remarkably consistent, winning 45, 46, 45 and 46 games in his first full seasons behind the bench. That includes a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, another run to the Western Conference Final and six postseason series wins. He has taken two different teams to the Stanley Cup Final (New Jersey being the other) and has a strong track record. But the Sharks expect championship-level play, and so far this season they have not delivered on that. A coaching change might be a knee-jerk reaction, and I don't think it is likely, but if the Sharks keep hovering around the .500 mark with this roster it might became a bigger discussion.
Milan Lucic, Calgary Flames (Forward)
The options here are limited because Lucic's contract is essentially buyout proof given how it is made up almost entirely of signing bonuses. Trading him would only get the Flames another undesirable contract in return. But you kind of have to put him on the hot seat given that he started with zero goals and four assists in his first 24 games, while the guy he was traded for (James Neal) scored 14 goals in his first 26 games for the Flames' biggest rival (Edmonton).
Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks (Defenseman)
It was probably overdue, but Seabrook found himself as a healthy scratch earlier this season and was not particularly happy about it. He still thinks he can contribute, but the Blackhawks at some point need to start thinking about the future and their long-term outlook. Seabrook was a major contributor to three Stanley Cup-winning teams and a mini-dynasty in Chicago, but it is not unfair to say his best days as an NHL defender are in the rearview mirror. At some point you have to begin a new chapter.
Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs (general manager)
He is not really in danger of being fired because the Maple Leafs are clearly committed to him and his direction. But make no mistake: With Mike Babcock out of the mix, this is now Dubas' team in every way. His vision, his roster, his coach. I think it can work (and most likely will work), but if it does not there is only one other place to point the finger.
Blackhawks won't loan Adam Boqvist to Team Sweden for World Junior Championships .
Despite their team struggles, Blackhawks management has obviously decided that getting Boqvist more NHL experience is more important than any success he could have overseas against other junior-aged players. Interestingly, the next game that Boqvist plays for the Blackhawks is an important one. It would trigger his entry-level contract for this season, making him a restricted free agent in the summer of 2022. That is already the case for Dach, who now has 27 NHL games under his belt since going third overall last June.Soderstrom, meanwhile, will get an exciting opportunity in Boqvist’s place.