Mailbag: Coaches on the hot seat
After a summer hiatus, the Friday NHL mailbag is back. It's hockey season. We'll mix in some of the new questions and reach into the offseason bag for some of the best I missed. If you have a question for next week's mailbag, send it in here.
Let's jump right in:
Why are the Wild having so much trouble scoring goals? Is Mike Yeo on the hottest seat in the NHL right now?
Steve Leet, Eagen, Minn.
According to the gambling website Bovada (known as Bodog in Canada), the odds favor Calgary's Bob Hartley being the next coach fired. I loved his reply when asked about those odds by Pierre LeBrun: "My job is to prove Jay Feaster and Brian Burke right. Whatever Mad Dog or Bodog says, I don't really give a s---."
I believe Hartley is safe right now. First of all, he's got the Flames competing hard and overachieving. And this is a team in the early stages of a rebuilding process, which isn't the time you fire a coach. He's trying to build a culture in Calgary and help develop young talent. He's done a great job making Mikael Backlund comfortable, reviving expectations on his career. And the early returns on his work with 2013 No. 6 overall pick Sean Monahan are promising. Typically, the coach who gets fired is the one whose team is underachieving. You've got to have high expectations to underachieve, which isn't the case in Calgary.
It is, however, the case in Minnesota.
The Wild are a cap team that has plenty of talent, and they had hoped to build off last season's return to the playoffs. Right now, that's not happening, although last night's 2-1 win against the Jets helps. They scored seven goals in just three games, in part because they were getting zero goal-scoring from guys like Dany Heatley, Nino Niederreiter and Mikko Koivu. They miss Matt Cullen down the middle, and the Charlie Coyle experiment was short-lived because of his sprained knee. General manager Chuck Fletcher is very meticulous in his planning, so he's not the kind of executive who will do anything rash, plus most GMs only have so many coaching hires before the attention turns upstairs. He'd have to be sure it was a necessary switch before pulling the trigger. But with Peter Laviolette fired, the attention has definitely turned to Minnesota.
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