Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ranking The 30 NHL Bench Bosses

1) This is a long over due annual post. Consider this The First Annual Rating The Coaches post here at Fauxrumors. In the past (and we plan to continue it) we have posted whom we believe will be canned/who-gets-axe-first. Here we will simply rate each coach based upon not only team success but how well he gets the most of his roster. When applicable their overall win/loss records as a NHL head coach. We will put them in our subjective order (best to worst) as well as assign a Letter Grade. Some will get an 'incomplete' as they will be rookie head coaches this upcoming season


  1. Mike Babcock: Detroit (656-373) Simply the best in the business. In the past 4 years he has a Stanley Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal. This will be his 7th season guiding the boys from The Motor City . They weren't a bad team before he took over, but he has kept them at peak performance during his tenure. Just when you think the Wings are ready to be grounded by age and injury Babcock gets the most of his charges and they again are one of the top teams in the league. As such he is one of the best in the business and we'd hire him to guide our team in a milisecond. He is respected by his players and is liked by management as well. Grade: (A+)

  2. Dan Bylsma: Pittsburgh (189-114.) What got/won our attention/respect here at Fauxrumors wasn't the Stanley Cup Dan won as a rookie coach 2 seaons ago, but what he did last season. It was a challenging one for sure to guide one's team with its 2 best players(Malkin/Crosby) gone for the majority of the time. Yet, instead of calling it in the Penguins thrived and put up one of their best records in franchise history. They might have fallen short in the post season, but our esteem for Byalsma was set with his work during the regular season. Combining that with his Cup success we place him near the head of the current head coaching crop. Grade: (A+)

  3. Joel Quenneville: Chicago (579-376) Joel is entering his 15th NHL coaching season. Simply he just wins everywhere he has gone. From St Louis to Colorado to Chicago, his teams are never out worked and almost always are above .500; making the playoffs in 12 of his 14 seasons. Until recently his downfall was an overall lack of spring success. However, he finally erased this only 'blemish', (never having won a Cup) last year with Chicago. Grade: (A)

  4. Barry Trotz: Nashville (455-407.) There was a time when our appreciation of Barry Trotz was very low. We felt he was over rated. His teams got 100+ points but crapped out in the playoffs. As time has progressed our esteem has increased as we have seen Trotz' teams continue to compete at a high level/make the post season despite a lack/depth of top line talent. We grant to those who want to detract from his record that he has won one round in the playoffs in 12 years as Predators coach. Even as ownership was in turmoil he didn't allow his team to be distracted and continued to play at a high level, making the playoffs 6 of the past 7 years despite an ever shrinking team payroll. Grade: (A-)

  5. Randy Carlyle: Anaheim (266-172.) The former Norris Trophy winner has developed into one of the best coaches in the business. In his 6 years behind the bench his teams have failed to make the playoffs only once, where he is always been considered a fair but tough 'players type coach'. The Ducks, regardless of their record are a tough team to play against and that has to be attributed in part to their head coach. With 3 year extension in hand we will see if Randy can help get the Ducks back to Cup contention. Grade: (A-)

  6. Todd McLellan: San Jose (152-63.) There is no denying that McLellan can coach. He has had success at every level from junior, AHL, and now the NHL with the Sharks. He has an impressive win/loss record in 3 years behind the bench and despite not winning it all, the Sharks have escaped past the first round the past 2 years and looked like legit contenders. Not a surprise then that Todd learned a lot from his mentor Mike Babcock. Grade: (A-)

  7. John Tortorella: NYR (333-298) One of the most successful U.S. born NHL coaches. The Boston Mass native is a strong personality behind the bench, wearing his emotions clearly on his sleeve. Sometimes they get the best of him, but overall his players are almost always prepared and motivated to perform at a high level. His high point came in 2004 with the Lightning when he guided the Lighting to their only Stanley Cup. Grade:(B+)

  8. Claude Julian: Bos (300-189) Has seemed to always be successful in every stop (Montreal, NJ, Boston) yet almost always seems to be maligned by fans and management. Fired by NJ in 2007 before the playoffs even began after posting a 47-24 record? That continued into Boston where he seemed to be perennially on the hot seat. It must be his layed back demeanor. However we believe its this cool temper that helped his team get by the nonsense the Canucks threw the Bruins way this past spring on route to the teams' first Cup in 40 years. Is his job now safe? Probably not. Grade: (B+)

  9. Peter Laviolette: Phi (319-231) Along with Tortorella one of the best U.S.-born NHL bench bosses. Has had success in each of his 3 stops (NYI, Carolina and now Philly) Not quite as fiery as his counterpart in NY, but his teams are no less hard working and fundamentally sound. He has made it all the way to the Cup Finals twice in his 10 years and won a Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006. Grade: (B+)

  10. Dave Tippett: Phx (364-207) Dave's regular season winning percentage is quite impressive. Unfortunately his post season record is as bad as the regular campaign is good. Since his first season behind the Dallas Stars bench in 2002-2003when he lost in the Conference Finals, Tippet's teams have failed to advance past the first round in 5 of the next 6 seasons. He helped resurrect a moribund Coyote team the last couple of seasons earning himself the Jack Adams Coach of The Year honor in 2010. Grade: (B)

  11. Lindy Ruff: Buf (526-390) Currently, he is the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL entering his 14 season all with the Sabres. Making the playoffs in 8 of his 13 years. Despite that apparent up and down record, his teams are almost always in contention for a spot and no none is more respected by his players and coaching peers. Won The Jack Adams in 2006. Has yet to win the big one, coming closest in 1999 when Brett Hull scored the controversial winning (in the crease?) goal. Grade: (B)

  12. Guy Boucher: TB (46-25) In his first season guiding an NHL team, Lightning. They had a very nice rebound regular season and they went all the way to the Conference Finals before losing to the eventual Cup champ Bruins in 7 games. His interesting 1-3-1 defensive zone scheme seemed to throw off opposing coaches. It remains to be seen if he can continue his quick success, but thus far he has done well at every level from collegiate, major juniors to the AHL. Grade: (B)

  13. Alain Vigneault: Van (345-251) For some reason we at fauxrumors have never been big fans of Alain. That perception has not changed regardless of the canucks winning the President's Trophy and being Cup runner-ups. In our opinion he has significantly underachieved his entire coaching career. The Canucks were by far the most talented team last season, yet they managed to blow it. It was his lack of control over his troops(or was it his direction?) that led to their down fall against the more calm/professional Bruins. We believe he is a good NHL coach, but not among the elite. Grade: (B)

  14. Peter DeBoer: NJ (103-107) From our perspective Peter appears to be a good coach put into bad circumstances. He was an excellant junior league coach winning The memorial Trophy in 2003. Coaching in Florida he managed to keep them in contention despite not having the best roster assembled. Unfortunately, like his predecessors the previous 8 seasons he failed to make the post season and was axed. Seeing his potential Lou Lamarello snapped him up to coach the Devils this season. Too bad for Peter that he will again be thrusted into a bad circumstance of a roster not quite good enough, but now an impatient GM who will quickly dispose of him when the team fails. Grade: (B-)

  15. Jacques Martin: MTL. (600-469). Similar to our opinion of Alain Vigneault, we feel Jack is a good NHL coach who has had some very good teams and not lived up to expectations. Especially in his time in Ottawa. His teams(outside of Florida) are always in the playoffs, but in 16 NHL seasons he hasn't made it to the Cup Finals, let alone won the big prize. He has done a nice job in Montreal the past 2 years, but making the playoffs and winning a round every couple of years doesn't make him an elite coach despite entering the elite club of coaches(9) who have won 600 NHL games. Grade: (B-)

  16. Joe Sacco: COL (73-74) Thrusted into a very difficult position in Colorado taking over a rebuilding team. They well over achieved in his first season and made the playoffs when most, including us, saw them as a 'lottery team'. He was an Adams Finalist. The 'Lanche fell back to Earth last season to where most expected. However now expectations are beginning to elevate in Mile High, so an improvement will be expected. Questions also remain on his coaching techniques where he alienates some of his star players Grade: (C+)

  17. Ron Wilson TOR (619-533) Has had 4 extended stops as an NHL head coach. Amassing an impressive regular season win totals that ranks him 7th all-time. However he is the epitome of an underachieving coach. His teams have missed the playoffs 9 times in 17 seasons behind the bench. In his 8 post season appearances he made it past the 2nd round once; making the Finals with the Capitals in 98'. As one scout told us, " No one knows there X's and O's better, but he's hard to like. WE have to say that despite his W's, we don't either. Grade: (C+)

  18. Tom Renney: EDT (228-215) Tom is not a bad coach by any stretch, but has yet to extinguish himself. In previous stops in Vancouver and The Rangers those respective teams failed to improve, but stagnate during his tenures. The jury remains out in Edmonton where he took over a deeply rebuilding(sucking) team last year. He was brought in because his MO is that of an excellent teacher. This up coming season a significant improvement is expected so its crunch time again for Tom. Grade:(C)

  19. Jack Capuano NYI (26-29) Yes, Jack's record is scant but we were quite impressed how he took a team that was reeling into oblivion into a motivated group that finished the 2nd half very strongly. This season, bolstered by the finish there will be some expectations on The Island and we might see if Capuano is the real deal or not. Grade: (C)

  20. Bruce Boudreau: WST (189-79) Some might be surprised to see Bruce this far down our list. Frankly despite his gaudy regular season record we're surprised he's still employed by the Caps. With a team that is arguably as talented as any other in the East they have lost to a lower seeded team in the playoffs 4 years running. 'Gabby' is a player's coach, which to us translates to some one who the players can walk on despite frequent F-bombs! (C-)

  21. Davis Payne: STL (61-48) Difficult to assess Davis' coaching prowess quite yet. In the 1 1/2 seasons his teams have been decimated by injuries to key personnel. He did a nice job down the stretch 2 yrs ago taking over for Andy Murray, but last season was one to forget in The Gateway City. With an intact team management now expects a playoff run and we shall see what kind of coach Payne really is. Grade: (C-)

  22. Scott Arniel: CBJ (34-35) In a similar position that Davis Payne and Jack Capuano found themselves last year. A successful interim coach looking to improve as a full time NHL head coach. He's been quite successful at all levels up til now and we have no doubt he knows the game and might perhaps be a successful NHL coach, but he's in a tough situation in Columbus and it'll be quite an effort to make the top 8 in the highly comparative West. Grade: (C-)

  23. Terry Murray: LA (476-371) Entering his 15th NHL season as a head coach. Much like his brother, Bryan he has a very impressive regular season record and little post season success other than an unsuccessful trip to the Finals with the Flyers way back in 1997. He hasn't won a playoff round since! He's the last coach to guide the Florida Panthers into the playoffs a decade ago. Since then he had a 7 year coaching hiatus before returning to coach the Kings who have been a tad of a disappointment and in our opinion, much like Washington is the wrong coach for this team to get to the next level. Grade: (C-)

  24. Brent Sutter: CAL (178-117) Despite a respectable regular season record Sutter appears to not be quite ready to coach in the NHL. He might still be living off his memorial championship from 2001. Since then his junior and NHL teams haven't advanced past the first round. Last season he didn't even get his team to qualify. The Flames may no longer be Cup contenders, but certainly they have enough talent to be a top 8 team. It doesn't bode well when in 2 locales a coach gets less out of his team than expected. Grade:(D+)

  25. Paul Maurice: CAR (452-444) In our opinion there has not been a more over rated coach in recent NHL history. Once(and seemed like forever) was the youngest NHL coach. Still only 44 and entering his 1th NHL season. Coaching Hartford/Carolina in 2 stints, and Toronto. Over that time he missed the post season 9 times. His high points were guiding the Canes to a Finals appearance in 2002 and Conference Finals in 2009. In between and before he's been down right unimpressive. Grade: (D+)

  26. Paul MacLean: OTT (none) After a decent NHL career that spanned 11 seasons (ending in 1991) he got into coaching. Its been a long trek to the big show, but had some success in the IHL and UHL, and was part of Mike Babcock's coaching squad when the Wings won the Cup in 2008. He has a tough chore taking over a team that is on the down side. However though and like all other rookie coaches he gets an Grade: 'Incomplete'.

  27. Kevin Dineen: FLA (none) Kevin had a very nice sub Hall of Fame career (scoring 355 goals) who retiring in 2003. Since that point he has been coaching The Portland Pirates the Coyotes AHL affiliate. In his 6 seasons there he made it to the AHL's version of the Final 4 3 times without winning it all. He may be highly talented as a coach but we wouldn't want our first gig to be in the playoff desert known as Florida. If he gets this team into the playoffs, regardless of other candidates he will be our Coach of The Year choice, hands down! Grade: Incomplete

  28. Glen Gulutzan: DAL (none) Glen is as green an NHL coach as one could get. The 40 year old Manitoba native enters his first taste of NHL action of any kind. He never played an NHL game and has never even served as an NHL asst. That said he did have success in the ECHL with Las Vegas and with the Stars AHL affiliate in Texas. Like Dineen and MacClean he enters a difficult situation in Dallas where the team is in rebuild mode. Grade: Incomplete.

  29. Claude Noel: WPG (10-8) Claude is the first coach of the Winnipeg Jets. He has had some success in the minors leagues, including winning the AHL’s Calder Cup in 2006 in Milwaukee. Noel was very briefly the interim in Columbus when Hitchcock was fired late in 2010, but wasn't retained. Unlike some of his new NHL collegeus he enters a good situation in Winnipeg with an up and coming team. Grade: Incomplete

  30. Mike Yeo: MN. (None) Yeo who never played in any NHL games is a mere 37 years old but seems to have a promising coaching career in front of him. He had quite a bit of success in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Yeo was also behind the bench with the 2009 Penguins who won The Cup. We like his chances if given a chance to succeed. Grade: Incomplete.

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