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Coaching changes have resulted in improvements

Tuesday, 03.10.2009 / 12:52 PM / NHL Insider

By John McGourty - Staff Writer

While a coaching change is almost universally seen as a sign of a team in distress, the change can also signal a club on the rebound.

NHL teams have made seven changes behind the bench this season and the changes have resulted in improved play. Here is a closer look.

Guy Carbonneau on Monday became the seventh NHL coach to be fired this season. Carbonneau was fired after 66 games with his team in second place in the Northeast Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference, with a 35-24-7 record. The Canadiens were 89-59-16 in Carbonneau's two-plus seasons at the helm. Carbonneau was replaced by General Manager Bob Gainey.

The first coach fired this season was Chicago's Denis Savard who was relieved of his duties on Oct. 16, after four games in which the Blackhawks got off to a 1-2-1 start. Savard was 65-66-16 as the Blackhawks' head coach. Savard was replaced by Joel Quenneville, who has posted a 35-17-8 record since taking over.

The Tampa Bay Lightning fired coach Barry Melrose on Nov. 14, after 16 games in which the Lightning were 5-7-4. Melrose had been appointed head coach in June, after last coaching in the NHL in 1995. Melrose was replaced by Rick Tocchet, who has gone 16-25-9 as coach and there is talk of removing the “interim” tag from his title.

Stanley Cup-winning coach Peter Laviolette was fired by the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 3. The Hurricanes were 12-11-2 and trailed the Southeast Division-leading Washington Capitals by three points. Carolina had gotten off to a hot start, but lost nine of 16 games in November and four of five before Laviolette's firing. Laviolette coached the Hurricanes to the 2006 Stanley Cup but his team missed the playoffs in the next two seasons. Laviolette was replaced by Paul Maurice, who, ironically, had been replaced by Laviolette. Maurice has a 24-16-3 since returning to Raleigh.

The Ottawa Senators fired coach Craig Hartsburg on Feb. 1, following a 17-24-7 start. Hartsburg was also hired in June. He hadn't coached in the NHL since 2000. Hartsburg previously coached the Anaheim Ducks and Blackhawks. Hartsburg was replaced by Cory Clouston, who had been the team's AHL coach at the time. Clouston is 9-5-3 since taking over.

Michel Therrien coached the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final last season but wasn't able to inspire a revised lineup that was badly affected by injuries this season to similar success. Therrien was fired on Feb. 15 when his team was in tenth place in the Eastern Conference with a 27-25-5 record. The Penguins started the season 11-4-2. Therrien was replaced by Dan Bylsma, who has had a dramatic impact with a 8-1-1 record.

The New York Rangers fired Tom Renney on Feb. 23, after his team went 31-23-7 but only 2-7-3 in their previous 12 games. Renney had coached the Rangers for almost five seasons, winning two playoff series. Renney was replaced by John Tortorella, who has gone 3-2-1 in his first six games.
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