Large coaching turnover, but results mostly improved
More than one-quarter of the teams in the NHL have now made a coaching change during the 2011-12 season, and nearly half the 30 current bench bosses were not at their posts at the end of the last campaign.
Randy Carlyle was the fourth NHL coach fired during this season, but he will replace Ron Wilson, who became casualty No. 8 when the Toronto Maple Leafs relieved him of his duties Friday night despite giving him a contract extension in December.
While there has been a lot of turnover among the coaching ranks in the League, the change has more often than not produced improved results.
Five of the seven teams that have made a coaching change have performed better for the new guy. St. Louis and Anaheim are the best examples. The Blues were 6-7-0 when they replaced Davis Payne with Ken Hitchcock, and they're 34-11-7 since.
Anaheim was just 7-13-6 when Carlyle was jettisoned and the Ducks snapped up recently displaced Bruce Boudreau from Washington. Boudreau is 21-14-6 with the Ducks and has them on the fringe of the postseason chase -- something that was nearly implausible two months ago.
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Washington was 12-9-1 with Boudreau, but the Capitals are a slightly worse 20-18-4 since Dale Hunter joined the team from London in the Ontario Hockey League. The Capitals could still yet make the playoffs though, and it is possible that as many as seven teams will make the playoffs this season with a coach that wasn't in charge at the end of 2010-11 -- nearly half the field.
None of the six teams that switched coaches in the offseason participated in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but as of Saturday morning five of them -- Dallas, Florida, New Jersey, Ottawa and Winnipeg -- all were inside the top eight in their respective conferences. Minnesota finished last season with 86 points and was on top of the NHL standings after 30 games, but the Wild have slumped to 13th place in the West and are now on pace for only 83 points.