A new season brings with it a fresh start for players, fans and same goes for coaches.
Just like we do with players and teams in some way shape or form, we’ve decided to rank the NHL’s coaches. Instead of ranking them from No. 1 to No. 30 — who am I to say [insert coach’s name] is the worst coach in the NHL? — we’ve put them into tiers.
With that in mind, here’s how we have the 30 head coaches ranked heading into the 2015-16 campaign.
TIER 1: ELITE
Mike Babcock – Considered by many to be the best coach in hockey, Babcock is accustomed having a deep pool of talent to work with. He won’t have that luxury in his first season with the Leafs.
Joel Quenneville – The roster turnover he deals with is crazy, yet he keeps leading his teams to Stanley Cup championships. His winning percentage in Chicago is a remarkable .624 and his moustache should have its own display at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Barry Trotz – Trotz was able to turn one of the worst defensive teams in the league into a solid two-way squad that finished with the fifth-best goal differential in the NHL. Fans were worried that his defensive style would impact Alex Ovechkin…Ovi led the league with 53 goals.
Alain Vigneault – The Rangers barely made any significant off-season transactions after finishing with the best record in the NHL. Vigneault will be expected to lead the Rangers to a third consecutive Eastern Conference final.
Bob Hartley – The reigning Jack Adams winner did more with the Flames last year than anyone had expected he could. With the addition of Dougie Hamilton and the return of Mark Giordano, he’s got one of the best blue-lines in hockey to work with.
Bruce Boudreau – All this guy does is win. In fact, the only time he has missed the playoffs as a head coach was when he first joined the Ducks as a mid-season replacement in 2011. Four division titles with Washington and now three consecutive division titles with the Ducks.
TIER 2: POTENTIAL JACK ADAMS CONTENDERS
Paul Maurice – Set a career high for wins in a season last year with 43. His Jets are a notoriously hard-hitting and hard to play against.
Peter Laviolette – He managed to galvanize a Nashville group that (on paper, at least) shouldn’t have been as competitive as they were last season.
Michel Therrien – Therrien is 125-64-23 in his second stint with the Habs. Montreal plays a solid team game, not relying on one line to produce the bulk of the scoring, they’ve got a Norris winner in P.K. Subban and Carey Price is hands down the best goalie in hockey. Anything besides a Stanley Cup appearance at this point would be a disappointment though.
TIER 3: SOLID COACHES ON THIN ICE
Claude Julien – It’s hard to criticize a coach that has a 351-192-79 record since 2007 and led his team to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011, but Julien’s time in Boston could be winding down if his team misses the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Lindy Ruff – Ruff is one of the most respected, veteran bench bosses in the league and he’s got a plethora of talent to work with in Dallas. Despite scoring 261 goals (second only to Tampa’s 262), Dallas allowed 260 goals against and they missed the playoffs. That doesn’t reflect well on the coach. Ruff must ensure his team is more defensively responsible this season. If the Stars start slowly, a coaching change could be an option to shake things up because the on-ice talent is there.
Darryl Sutter – There were rumblings that Sutter had lost the room late last season as the defending champs proceeded to miss the playoffs. With everything that happened with Slava Voynov, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll, the Kings need Sutter to take control of his team.
Ken Hitchcock – Hitchcock is great in the regular season (708-429-88-97) but he hasn’t had much success in the post-season since the 2004-05 lockout. History tells us that when Hitchcock joins a new team he can get them into the playoffs but then in about year four or five the team takes a dive. Hitchcock is entering his fifth season as the Blues bench boss. Just saying.
Dave Tippett – Tippett is a better coach than his team’s 24-50-8 record suggested. Still, the Coyotes have missed the playoffs in three straight seasons and he’s got his work cut out for him.
TIER 4: ON THE RISE
Todd Richards – No team dealt with more injuries than the Blue Jackets last season, but when they finally got healthy they were the best team in the entire NHL at the conclusion of the regular season. Richards needs his team to somehow carry that momentum into the new campaign.
Jack Capuano – The Islanders are coming off their best season since the 1983-84 Stanley Cup-winning campaign. The Islanders need to improve on special teams, but with one of the highest-scoring, deepest rosters in the league, there’s not much to dislike about Capuano if you’re an Islanders fan. Plus, he’s got a great, old-school hockey haircut.
Jon Cooper – Cooper was an unknown commodity when he was named Lightning coach in 2013, but he has slowly become one of the best coaches in the league.
Dave Cameron – Who expected the Senators to make the playoffs last season? Cameron deserved every bit of the two-year contract extension he received last year.
Mike Yeo – He was on the hot seat last year until the team acquired Devan Dubnyk. One thing Yeo does well is preach defensive responsibility. His team locks it down when they get the lead and the Wild were far and away the best penalty-killing unit in the league.
Gerard Gallant – The Panthers struggled to score last season despite having a decent amount of offensive talent to work with. Gallant had the Panthers trending in the right direction last season.
TIER 5: FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW PLACES
Todd McLellan – His Sharks were a perennial post-season disappointment, but now he’s in charge of a team that has as much upside as any in the league.
Dan Bylsma – Bylsma is the type of coach who commands respect without ever having to raise his voice. That style could fit perfectly with a young Sabres team brimming with potential.
Peter DeBoer – Besides his improbable run to the Cup final with the Devils in 2012, DeBoer has missed the playoffs in every season as an NHL head coach. He now inherits a Sharks team that has been a perennial underachiever.
TIER 6: NEEDS A BOUNCE-BACK YEAR
Patrick Roy – After winning the Central division in 2014, Roy’s Avalanche were perhaps the biggest disappointment in the NHL last season. Roy is fiery, too fiery at times, but the Avs are primed to rebound.
Mike Johnston – First of all, the guy has a great name. In his first year with the Penguins, Johnston’s squad limped into the playoffs and were eliminated quickly by the Rangers. He never really had a fully healthy team to work with. However, with Kris Letang, Ollie Maatta and Pascal Dupuis back in the fold, plus having an elite scorer like Phil Kessel joining Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the dynamic crop of Pens forwards, expectations have been raised significantly.
Willie Desjardins – Desjardins underwent off-season hip surgery, which caused him to miss training camp, part of the pre-season and he won’t be able to conduct practices on skates until mid-to-late-October, so it has been an unconventional start to the season.
Bill Peters – At times throughout the pre-season, Peters was critical of his team’s effort. Unfortunately for Peters, a lack of effort might not be his biggest problem. A lack of scoring punch and depth could be.
TIER 7: UNPROVEN
Jeff Blashill – Replacing Mike Babcock is no easy task, but this should be an easy transition to the NHL because the Grand Rapids Griffins employ the same system as the Red Wings and he has already coached many players on the team.
John Hynes – In a recent interview with nj.com, Hynes said he demands puck possession, good habits, smart plays, strong defence and team toughness – all things the Devils lacked last season.
Dave Hakstol – The new Flyers coach is relatively unknown to mainstream fans, but he is revered in the hockey community. He finished his 15-year career at the University of North Dakota with a .654 win percentage, advanced to the Frozen Four seven times and helped develop the likes of Jonathan Toews, Zach Parise, T.J. Oshie, Travis Zajac, Drew Stafford, and Brock Nelson. The Flyers are in good hands.