NHL Rumors: 3 coaches under a microscope for the 2022-23 season

NHL coaches Sheldon Keefe
May 4, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe during a post game press conference after game two of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

This past offseason, we saw a coaching carousel of epic proportions with 9 teams hiring new bench bosses.

The Boston Bruins brought in Jim Montgomery after they fired Bruce Cassidy, who replaced Peter DeBoer with the Vegas Golden Knights. DeBoer became the new head coach of the Dallas Stars after Rick Bowness stepped down and he then proceeded to take the Winnipeg Jets job.

Did you follow all that? Good! Because there’s more.

Bowness replaced the Jets interim coach Dave Lowry, who took over for Paul Maurice after he resigned mid-season. By the way, Maurice is now the new coach of the Florida Panthers.

We’re not done yet.

John Tortorella is now the man in charge with the Philadelphia Flyers. Nick Lalonde is the coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Luke Richardson runs the Chicago Blackhawks bench, and David Quinn was hired by the San Jose Sharks.

When I said it was an epic summer for coaching changes, I wasn’t kidding.

NHL Rumors: 3 coaches under the microscope

nhl coaches new jersey devils
Mar 21, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff (left) talks to center Yegor Sharangovich (17) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at PPG Paints Arena. New Jersey won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022-23 NHL season is underway thanks to the Global Series that just concluded in Prague, Czechia. Let’s take a look at three coaches that are under the microscope and on the hot seat before their teams have even played a game.

Lindy Ruff, New Jersey Devils (46-76-16): When Ruff took over two years ago, the Devils were under renovation with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier as the centerpieces of their future. Along the way, they’ve gotten some additional young talent like Dawson Mercer and Jesper Bratt to build upon. However, adding Dougie Hamilton via trade and signing Ondrej Palat this summer in free agency indicates to me the Devils want to be in playoff contention. If they aren’t in the Wild Card mix, Ruff could be on his way out.

Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs (116-50-19): This is a crucial season not only for Keefe, but also Maple Leafs management which includes President Brendan Shanahan and GM Kyle Dubas. It’s odd to say a coach with Keefe’s record is on the hot seat, but the expectations for Toronto have been Stanley Cup or bust since he took over. He has the horses in Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander to get it done, but even winning a playoff round has been a challenge. Any stumble out of the gate and Barry Trotz might be getting a phone call sooner rather than later.

Dave Hakstol, Seattle Kraken (27-49-6): Yes, the Kraken are entering only their second year of existence but Hakstol is already on the bubble. Seattle has a lot of young and upcoming talent. While there’s no expectation for this team to make the playoffs, they must improve on their miserable 27 win season. More importantly, the development of both Matty Beniers and Shane Wright needs to be evident to prevent a coaching change.