There’s got to be a better phrase here than “coaching hot seat.”
It’s overdone and, in some cases, dismissive. The problem, though, is that it kind of … fits. It’s a solid shorthand if nothing else. Coaching in the NHL is a difficult job, and the vultures are often circling — even after a few games.
So, yes, coaches are going to get fired. Some might get fired soon. Plenty will get fired later. Some will get new jobs. Others won’t. So it goes.
What’s certain is that there are 32 of those spots available, and the assessment process never ends. At the moment, every coach seems to fall into one of eight categories. Here they are, ordered from most to least job security.
Not now, maybe not ever
Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning: No team has won more games than the Lightning since they hired Cooper in 2013, and only one has the same number of Cups. Unless the standard in Tampa Bay is “never lose another postseason series,” Cooper isn’t going anywhere. Owner Jeff Vinik and GM Julien BriseBois stuck with him after that 2019 playoff disaster, and he’s delivered. Big time. Maybe he’ll do the rest of us a solid when his contract is up in 2025 and take a TV job. He’d write his ticket there, too. No coach has a more impressive combo of high-level success and synergy with his bosses.
Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins: The fact that Sullivan hasn’t won a Jack Adams is one of the league’s great ongoing, low-level farces, and seeing him mid-table on “which coach gets fired first” odds boards is hilarious. The team’s new owners at Fenway Sports Group viewed him as a major asset from the start. Almost like he’s won two Stanley Cups.