Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Coaching in the NHL's Southeast Division

After 40 percent of the Southeast Division changed coaches during the off-season, and another 40 percent opted for new coaches on Monday, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher is now the most tenured coach in the division. He is in his second year. Here is how he stacks up against the other coaches he faces on his team's top rival clubs:

With 57 wins as an NHL coach entering Tuesday, Boucher has more wins than the other four coaches in the division combined (19 for Winnipeg's Claude Noel, 12 for Florida's Kevin Dineen, zeroes for Washington's Dale Hunter and Carolina's Kirk Muller).

Guy Boucher has 15 wins and 7 losses in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a coach. His opponents' combined record equals zero and zero.

Although to be fair, Muller, Hunter and Dineen have a lot of experience in the playoffs as players.

So what does it mean about the division? Well, it means that there isn't much appetite for losing around here. Ahem. Not anymore. And it means that some of these teams need to reassess their assets, and not just behind the benches.

Carolina GM Jim Rutherford has hopefully learned that having a good goaltender, a great sophmore and a stumbling star isn't enough to have a winning team, and that hugging the salary cap floor might not keep you as competitive as in once did (unless your name is David Poile).

Washington GM George McPhee has hopefully learned that it isn't enough to have out-of this-world talent surrounded by gritty veterans. You also need... um... missiles. And jet packs.

But hopefully these new coaches will be able to do what their predecessors were struggling to do, and that is turn around their teams and have them reach their lineups' maximum potential. Of course, if that is the case, the Hurricanes will still probably miss the playoffs.

Take a second to drink in the situation: with all the turnover in the last six months on the other teams in the Southeast, it now looks like the Tampa Bay Lightning are the most stable team in the division.

Wow. Let's take another look at that.

"Tampa Bay Lightning...

...most stable."

Wow. Just wow.

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