The life of an NHL coach can be rough … about as rough as it is to be Celine Dion. Sure, almost everyone hates you, but you can recycle the same ideas time after time and make good money doing it. Wait – that’s unfair, coaches aren’t talentless. Coaching isn’t exactly a secure job, but no coach expects that. It’s the thrill and challenge they thrive on. And the experience is nearly invaluable too.
Clearly NHL General Managers and Owners agree – they keep hiring and recycling the same coaches over and over. Many of these coaches don’t have amazing track records. Coaching in the NHL is tough – I can only begin to imagine, but are all these coaches really worth bringing back time after time?
Keep that in mind.
We’ve seen seven coaching changes in the 2008-2009 season – six in the Eastern Conference and one in the Western Conference. I understand coaches have a limited shelf life and when a change is needed to be made, it’s unavoidable. But consider this: six of the seven axed coaches are under contract for next season and at least four of those coaches will be under contract for next season and the year after.
Here in Ottawa, the Senators will be paying for both Craig Hartsburg and John Paddock for the next two seasons, plus Cory Clouston, should he be kept on.
“Alright Burgundy, you’ve impressed me with your relentless research and clever banter, but what’s your point?”
Well, with NHL revenues expected to take a serious hit (and potentially tank in certain soft markets) next season, I wonder if it will change philosophies on hiring and firing coaches? Can teams afford to be paying for 2 coaches over multiple years while the recession is in full swing? Even top NHL markets like Montreal (RIP Guy Carbonneau) and Chicago (RIP Dennis Savard) simply can’t afford to do that.
Often teams will reward an interim coach with a 3-4 year contract for a half season of good performance. Doesn’t make sense when you figure the after tenure for most coaches (Lindy Ruff, Barry Trotz and Jacques Lemaire excluded) is around 2-3 years. Why are teams locking into long coaching deals when we know the life of a coach is short? They are hired to be fired, but can owners afford that? We’re in a recession, but you’d never know it based on the way teams spend on free agents and coaches.
The next time I hear owners complain about league revenues, I’ll think to how many coaches are still being paid based off long contracts, bad decision making and recycled coaches.
Stay classy, rest of the world affected by recessions.