December 1, 2011
NHL coaches on endangered list
By Randy Sportak, QMI Agency
Like so many others in the hockey world, Scott Hannan was blindsided by news from Anaheim.
While most of us were asleep, the Ducks found a way to fill a newspaper on their own Wednesday night by first beating the Montreal Canadiens during a rare visit by the Habs and celebrating it by firing long-time head coach Randy Carlyle and hiring Bruce Boudreau.
“Good for him to land on his feet after two days — that’s an obscure stat, but it must the be the quickest a guy has gone into a new job,” said Hannan, who played for Boudreau for most of last season after being dealt from the Colorado Avalanche to Washington Capitals. “He’s a good guy. He makes guys feel good on the ice.
“He’s emotional, both ways. He doesn’t like losing, but when you’re winning and things are going, he’s good to be around because of his emotion.”
Talk about a wild week in the NHL coaching fraternity with Boudreau (Washington), Paul Maurice (Carolina) and Carlyle all gassed in a matter of a couple of days. Throw in Davis Payne’s firing in St. Louis, and we’ve had more coaches gunned already this season than all of the 2010-11 campaign — although five bench bosses receieved pink slips once the season ended.
What makes the Carlyle to Boudreau move in Disneyland so unique is that Boudreau was fired by one club and hired by another in less time than it takes for milk to go bad. We thought the Flames were bold by hiring Darryl Sutter a month after he was fired by San Jose in the 2002-03 season.
Then again, if Boudreau can turn things around in Anaheim in the manner his arrival in Washington went — he joined an under-achieving, highly talented Capitals team Nov. 22, 2007 and they posted a 37-17-7 mark from that point onward to win the Southeast Division — we may see more teams pulling the trigger because a guy who may fit their situation is suddenly available.
A familiar face in Craig Conroy was on the ice during a Flames practice this week. Conroy, now the special assistant to the GM, spent some time with young centres Roman Horak and Mikael Backlund to help them on their faceoff work. “All our centres are left handed, so they never get to practice against a right-handed guy,” said Conroy. Anything has to help. The Flames are the NHL’s worst faceoff team and by a substantial margin ... Yes, that was Keith Aulie paired with Dion Phaneuf to start the Toronto Maple Leafs game Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins. It’s doubtful having those two together was to twist the knife in Flames fans over that disastrous trade, but sure has to be tough to take when you think the Flames now only have one player from that deal — Matt Stajan on the fourth line — and are paying half of Niklas Hagman’s salary to play in Anaheim ... Prospect Max Reinhart is a long-shot to make Canada’s entry for the World Junior tournament, but the Kootenay Ice centre has something special in his makeup that gives a great vibe about his professional future. Not only is Reinhart proving his playoff success last season was no fluke, but he has a great attitude about continuing that level of performance. “When I go into games, I believe in myself because I’ve done it before. That gives me a sense of comfort when I play a big game,” he said.
We have to admit, it’s fun tracking how fast Sidney Crosby is climbing the charts in the league scoring race. Even the anti-Crosby camp has to admit he is one special talent ... Between the groin injury suffered by goalie Kari Lehtonen and Brenden Morrow’s back problems, it’ll be a miracle for the Dallas Stars to stay in the top eight of the Western Conference for the next few weeks ... It has to be worth following the Florida Panthers more closely, even just to study how so many parts thrown together seemingly haphazardly can work so well ... Thrilled to see Vancouver Canucks forward Mason Raymond back in action after suffering a fractured vertebra in last year’s Stanley Cup finals. Hopefully it doesn’t take him long to have enough confidence to go through traffic ... Poolies take note, the Chicago Blackhawks have moved Patrick Kane back to wing on a line with Jonathan Toews. Marian Hossa is on a line with Patrick Sharp.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Just went on the ice... Felt good. Hope to be back soon so everyone can stop telling me I’m messing up their hockey pool”
— Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall via Twitter