Five coaches ready for another NHL job


Dan Bylsma was fired as head coach of the Penguins in June of 2014. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

On Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Randy Carlyle.

Should the team decide to go external for their next bench boss, here are five could-be candidates…

Guy Boucher
Career record: 97-79-20
Most recent NHL head coach job: Tampa Bay

By far the least experienced coach on this list, Boucher could present an intriguing option for a team looking to make a change behind the bench.

He burst onto the scene with a painfully defensive approach that helped turn around the Tampa Bay Lightning seemingly overnight, marching them to the Eastern Conference Final before falling to the eventual Cup champion Boston Bruins in 2010-11.

Boucher’s quick rise to coaching superstardom was equaled by his rapid fall from grace, which ended with his dismissal following a 13-18-1 start to the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign.

Perhaps his players had seen enough of his 1-3-1 neutral zone trap… we know opponents certainly had.

Dan Bylsma
Career record: 252-117-32
Most recent NHL head coach job: Pittsburgh

All was well in Pittsburgh when general manager Ray Shero and Bylsma were so deep down the middle that Jordan Staal was relegated to shutdown duty on the third line.

Bylsma’s troubles began when the club moved Staal and never bothered to properly replace him. Not a simple task, by any means. Marc-Andre Fleury’s erratic post-season play certainly didn’t help matters either.

Fair or not, as the Penguins failed to get it done in the post-season since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, Bylsma’s fate crawled to its closing act in the summer of 2014.

Touted for his ‘systems’ and ability to navigate a roster flush with star power, Bylsma is likely to take an NHL job as soon as one becomes available.

Mike Keenan
Career record: 672-531-147-36
Most recent NHL head coach job: Calgary

Keenan may be one of the most polarizing figures to ever stand behind an NHL bench.

His resume is rather impressive with four Stanley Cup Final appearances and a ring with the 1993-94 Rangers, but his reputation as somewhat of a tyrant and disciplinarian precedes him.

Rampant goalie pulls, clashes with superstars, and a legendary mean streak. “Iron Mike” is as old-school as it gets.

Keenan’s most recent stint as an NHL head coach with the Calgary Flames produced an 88-60-16 record and back-to-back playoff appearances. He was relieved of his duties following the club’s exit from the 2008-09 post-season.

Keenan captured the Gagarin Cup with the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk last spring, becoming the first North American head coach to do so. Surely he would relish the opportunity to take the reigns in the NHL once again, but it’s probably best if he refrains from asking Brett Hull to serve as one of his references.

John Tortorella
Career record: 446-375-37-78
Most recent NHL head coach job: Vancouver

There is one advanced metric Tortorella would immediately influence if he were to land another NHL coaching gig. Unfortunately, it’s F/60 (F-bombs per 60 seconds).

The Vancouver Canucks were eager enough to say goodbye to the former Jack Adams Award winner after one season that they were willing to drop him with four years and $8 million remaining on his contract.

Like Keenan, Tortorella is well known for his clashes with stars. No one ever said he wasn’t willing to fight for his team, though. No, literally.

Ron Wilson
Career record: 648-561-101-91
Most recent NHL head coach job: Toronto

Wilson made at least one playoff appearance at every stop in his coaching career, except for Toronto. While he found relative success in Anaheim, Washington and San Jose, Wilson’s Maple Leafs tenure was rife with failure.

The analytics set will tell you he often made the most of what he was given to work with in Toronto, and they’re not wrong. A porous defence, an underwhelming top six, a rotating bag of holes in goal and far too many resources invested in ‘pugnacity, testosterone, truculence, and belligerence,’ ultimately led to Wilson’s demise in Hogtown.

Honourable mentions: Marc Crawford, Jacques Martin, Andy Murray, Claude Noel, John Stevens, Brent Sutter

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