Pink Slip Index: Will John MacLean Be First Under the Axe?
We're a week away from making it through October without any coaches being let go. Everyone's made it through training camp and the preseason are we're only just starting to get an idea of who these 30 teams really are. However, quite a few that were projected to be very good have so far been very bad, the prime candidate being the New Jersey Devils. I was having a tough time figuring out who should top the list, but this weekend, John MacLean gave me an early birthday present. Thank you, John, you make my job an awful lot easier.
Here's your premiere edition of the Pink Slip Index for 2010-11. Beware falling axes. Consider this your warning.
5. Todd Richards, Minnesota Wild.
Richards was a regular tenant on this list last season, as the Wild finished 13th in the West with 84 points. So far this season, they're 3-3-1 so there's no immediate cause to believe things are going to get worse -- or better. However, two of those wins are against the presumably awful Oilers. Richards is OK for now, but if this team takes a nose dive at any point, his seat is going to get awfully hot awfully fast.
Tenured Since: 2009
Seat Warmth: Todd is playing with his Dad's lighter. Let's hope he doesn't accidentally burn the house down.
Current Allies: The general passiveness and politeness of Minnesotans, Niklas Backstrom's save percentage.
Current Enemies: Equipment fires, Martin Havlat's vanishing goal scoring ability.
Estimated Time Remaining: The vernal equinox.
4. Cory Clouston, Ottawa Senators.
Clouston took over halfway through the 2008-09 season and in his second season, led the Senators to a first round playoff exit. Not terrible and usually not enough of a resume to get him on this list. However, the team has started slow out of the gate (2-5-1) and is coming off an embarrassing 3-0 home loss against the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night. It gave Carey Price his first shutout since the Bush administration and he only needed to stop 19 shots to do it. The Sens play four of their next five on home ice, a stretch that should tell us a lot about where this team wants to go.
Tenured Since: 2009
Seat Warmth: Passing motorist tosses a cigarette out his window and into a forest during a drought. Tread carefully.
Current Allies: Daniel Alfredsson's anti-aging meds, fanbase apathy.
Current Enemies: Bryan Murray's anger and rage, Pascal Leclaire's brittleness and Jason Spezza.
Estimated Time Remaining: New Year's.
3. Peter DeBoer, Florida Panthers.
The Panthers have been below average under DeBoer. The Panthers have been below average since about 1997. They may choose to keep on the current below average path they're taking, but if they're feeling whimsical, they'll get rid of DeBoer. The average tenure of a Panthers coach is 124 games and DeBoer was at 164 coming into the season. Start the countdown. Coaches in Miami don't last this long. It's just one of the laws of nature.
Tenured Since: 2008
Seat Warmth: Miami's a warm place. So it's already warm enough.
Current Allies: Team defense and Tomas Vokoun. Mainly Tomas Vokoun (only 12 goals allowed in 6 games).
Current Enemies: Time, Random Chance, Age -- about 75 in Panther Coach years.
Estimated Time Remaining: 40 games, give or take.
2. The Really Big Hole John MacLean Has Dug for Himself
At this point, MacLean has already dug himself a really big hole. The hole is so big, in fact, that it has taken on a life of its own and is currently the second most fireable coach in the NHL. He's literally spawned a metaphor that now exists as its own being. As MacLean goes, so goes the hole. This is essentially to illustrate the point that MacLean is 10 times more fireable than anyone else on this list. The distance between him and the others should only stand to get wider, especially given the events of this weekend.
Tenured Since: 2010
Seat Warmth: It's a hole, it doesn't have a seat.
Current Allies: John MacLean
Current Enemies: People who don't get the joke, Grenades that are thrown down holes.
Estimated Time Remaining: A fortnight.
1. John MacLean, New Jersey Devils
And now, the current most fireable coach in the NHL. MacLean has already had his adventures with star free agent Ilya Kovalchuk. First, he moved Kovy from left wing to right wing and then there was the mysterious benching for Saturday's game that ruffled a lot of feathers. To add to all that, the Devils are terrible so far this season. They are 2-6-1 and have surrendered an Eastern Conference high 30 goals. That, for a team with Marty Brodeur in net and a team that usually prides itself on defense. And -- most troublesome of all for MacLean -- his boss is Lou "trigger happy" Lamoriello who isn't the least bit afraid to get rid of a coach. Lou Lamoriello famously fired Claude Julien in April 2007 with a 47-24-8 mark in the division, good enough for first place. Not good enough for Lou.
Tenured Since: 2010
Seat Warmth: Molten lava hot.
Current Allies: Not really anybody by the looks of it. Maybe the hole.
Current Enemies: Lou Lamoriello's Adult A.D.D., Ilya Kovalchuk, the Fanbase, Freemasons.
Estimated Time Remaining: On a beach in Tahiti by Sunday.