NHL Hot Seats: Blackhawks, Canadiens, and Maple Leafs feeling the heat with slow starts

The Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, and Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to feel the heat. Head coaches and general managers alike can’t be feeling great out of the gate this season.

All three came into the 2021-22 Campaign with high expectations, and so far they’ve combined for a grand total of three wins. Toronto has 2, Montreal 1, and Chicago 0.

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Hot Seat: Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks President and GM Stan Bowman has been embroiled in lawsuits this summer, but also managed to turnover the roster.

Brent Seabrook has essentially retired and they traded his contract to Tampa Bay to acquire forward Tyler Johnson. They also acquired goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas, signed free-agent defenseman Jake McCabe and forward Jujhar Khaira and dispatched veteran Duncan Keith to Edmonton to acquire defenseman Caleb Jones. But the big move was acquiring rising star defenseman Seth Jones, Caleb’s older brother from Columbus to become a cornerstone player.

However, with those moves and the return of Jonathan Toews they have yet to win a single game this season going 0-5-1. It makes you wonder how long Jeremy Colliton will be behind Hawks bench? He’s starting his 4th season and his record of 86-88-25 isn’t cutting it.

If a coaching change doesn’t do it, what’s next? Firing Bowman seems logical, but when do you start talking a trade of either Toews or Patrick Kane?

Hot Seat: Montreal Canadiens

canadiens hot seat
Jun 18, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) splashes some water during the first period in game three of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals against the Vegas Golden Knights at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Since their surprise run to the Final, the Canadiens have had a tough go. Captain Shea Weber is out for the year, and Carey Price entered the Players Assistance Program. They also saw Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault and Corey Perry leave via free agency. Then of course, there’s all the injuries.

The additions of Mathieu Perreault, Mike Hoffman, Cedric Paquette and David Savard have not done much to help the Habs. They are 1-5-0 with GM Marc Bergevin trying to stay calm.

“There’s some pretty good hockey players that aren’t playing up to their potential, and until they do, there’s nothing I’m going to do to make a change just to make a change,” Bergevin explained.

That’s all well and good, but this is Montreal. It’s unlikely freshly signed head coach Dominique Ducharme will get the axe, which means another GM could be in place soon if this doesn’t change.

Hot Seat: Toronto Maple Leafs

maple leafs vs canadiens
Oct 13, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (44) and goalie Jack Campbell (36) celebrate a win over Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the season, GM Kyle Dubas admitted that if the Leafs didn’t have playoff success he would likely be on the hot seat.

“I think it’s certainly fair to say that if there aren’t changes to our performance in the end that there will be changes to the organization,” Dubas told Bob McCown on his podcast this week. “That comes with the territory in operating in a market like this and operating with a team that hasn’t reached its potential in the playoffs.”

After being unceremoniously upset by the Canadiens in the opening round of the playoffs, the Maple Leafs have extra motivation, but will be a weaker team. Zach Hyman’s departure via free-agency is a big hit, and replacing him with Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase hasn’t lived up to what they lost.

More importantly, even the most ardent detractors of goalie Frederik Andersen, who departed via free-agency wish he was still in net.

Toronto is 2-3-1, but the alarm bells are ringing thanks to having 19 goals against to 12 goals for. We know the scoring will come, but will they be able to play good enough defense?

If this continues, a major shakeup could happen sooner than expected.