The first month of the 2022-23 season is now in the books, the dust has settled and teams are now gearing up for the grind of hockey from now until next spring. This year, just like any other year in the NHL, has a crop of new head coaches (some are not new to being head coaches but debuting with new organizations) and with this season well under way, it’s time to rank the new bench bosses from the worst to the best so far:
Which head coaches may be re-considering their current positions?
1.David Quinn, San Jose Sharks. Quinn took on this job in the midst of the Sharks’ rebuilding program and so far this team looks, well, like a rebuilding program a long way off from their glory days. The Sharks are playing more like Chum and sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division with a 3-8-3 overall record. To his credit, Quinn had a 96-87-25 record while coaching the New York Rangers and this season is about getting the Sharks back to some level of respectablity with playoff hopes probably at least one season away.
2. Luke Richardson, Chicago Blackhawks. Give the guy a break, please. This is Richardson’s first true head coaching gig after serving as an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens. To be fair to Richardson, the Blackhawks aren’t that bad so far this season and have a 5-5-2 record and sit in fifth place in the highly-competitive Central Division. The Blackhawks were predicted to be “bottom feeders” bent on positioning themselves for the top draft picks next year and this franchise looks to be turning a page of sorts under Richardson. Let’s check back on them come February.
Some new head coaches are breathing life back into their organizations.
3. Paul Maurice, Florida Panthers. This coach has been around forever and his overall 775-681-99-130 record shows it. The Panthers finished first in the Atlantic Division last year and have all the talent in the world (hello Matthew Tkachuk) but currently sit at a respectable but not spectacular 7-5-1 and are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for 15 points. If anyone can get this team to the playoffs, Paul Maurice is your man. Just don’t place any bets on the Panthers in the Stanley Cup finals quite yet.
4. John Tortorella, Philadelphia Flyers. What can I say about Torts turning around the Flyers? Another “bottom feeder” team destined to play for a paycheck come October 15th, the Flyers have startled the NHL with a very respectable 7-3-2 record and staying relevant in the Metro Division standings.
Tortorella’s disciplined, no grabbing of your rear end-style of coaching is paying dividends in Philadelphia and starting to make believers and why not? The Phillies won the NL pennant after nearly collapsing early this season and the Eagles stand as the best team in the NFL right now. The Flyers have had issues but a stingy 82.9 percent penalty kill is helping and goalie Carter Hart is starting to get his name on the early Vezina Trophy consideration lists.
5. Lane Lambert, New York Islanders. When Lou Lamoriello fired Barry Trotz last May, Isles’ fans wondered what would happen to their beloved franchise. Well, a new head coach in Lane Lambert has the Islanders right back in contention again with a 9-5 record and solidly in second place in the Metro Division. The Islanders have expanded their offense under Lambert and their goals-per-game average currently ranks fourth in the NHL. Along with a tough 87 percent penalty kill, the Islanders are quickly proving to be a team looking to head back to the Stanley Cup playoffs next spring.
6. Rick Bowness, Winnipeg Jets. The surpise move of Bowness after he left Dallas to head back to familar stomping grounds in Manitoba seems to be fruitful for both his coaching career and the Jets. Winnipeg was listless and a team in search of a purpose last season and Rick Bowness seems to have found their purpose. Sitting on top of the tough Central Division, Bowness andthe Jets have a 8-3-1 record and show no signs of being grounded in the near future.
All other team and coaching statistics courtesy of nhl.com/stats and hockey-reference.com