Five teams have changed coaches this season, and it's not even Christmas yet.
It started Nov. 6, when Ken Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne
in St. Louis. Twenty-four days later, Bruce Boudreau
(Washington) and Paul Maurice
(Carolina) lost their jobs and were replaced by Dale Hunter
and Kirk Muller
, respectively. Less than 72 hours later, Boudreau was hired as Randy Carlyle
's replacement in Anaheim.
And earlier this week the Los Angeles Kings
fired Terry Murray
and have, at least for the time being, replaced him on an interim basis with John Stevens
, who was on staff as an assistant.
Hitchcock has had immediate success with the Blues, but the rest have struggled to get their new teams going. Here's how they have all fared:
Hitchcock rocks --
The Blues won their first game under Hitchcock, beating Chicago 3-0 on Nov. 8. They haven't slowed down since.
The Blues so far are 11-2-3 under Hitchcock. They won four in a row to end November and bring a three-game winning streak into Thursday's home game against the Rangers. They've improved their special teams and are allowing only 1.5 goals per game (24 goals-against in 16 games).
Hunter still searching --
The Capitals went back to their history to bring in Hunter, who had great success in 11 seasons as coach of the London Knights of the OHL, but never had coached a game at the NHL level. He and the team appear still to be finding their way together.
Washington is 3-4-0 under Hunter and is coming off a 5-1 home loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers on Tuesday. However, prior to that loss, the Capitals won back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 21-23, and their offense appeared to be coming out of a slumber, with four or more goals in three straight games.
Muller mining for wins --
Carolina hasn't been able to surge under Muller just yet and the Hurricanes now are dealing with an injury to star forward Jeff Skinner
, who is out with an undisclosed injury; he's scheduled to be reevaluated by team doctors Wednesday.
The Hurricanes, who are last in the Eastern Conference with 23 points, are 1-5-1 under Muller, who was the coach for the Milwaukee Admirals prior to coming to Raleigh. When the Hurricanes play solid defense and get good goaltending, as they did Tuesday in Toronto, they don't score enough. When they put up offense in bunches, such as their six-goal effort in Calgary, their defense and goaltending betrays them.
Boudreau attempting to bail out Ducks --
Until early this week, the Ducks didn't have much time to learn Boudreau's system and coaching philosophies because their schedule was so heavy, with five games in his first 10 days on the job. Anaheim had two full practices Monday and Tuesday this week, and Boudreau is hoping it translates into a better game Wednesday at home against Phoenix.
The Ducks are 1-3-1 under Boudreau, who admits he's still trying to get to know all of his players. In the five games with Boudreau behind the bench, the Ducks have allowed 18 goals, including five power-play goals. They've scored only twice on the power play.
Kings still seeking new coach --
As the Kings' slide mounts, GM Dean Lombardi remains in the hunt for Murray's full-time replacement. Stevens led the team in Tuesday's 3-0 loss, the Kings' fifth in a row, but according to a report in the Calgary Sun on Wednesday, Lombardi has asked ex-Flames coach Darryl Sutter
if he wants the job.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Sutter had yet to accept the position. The Kings, who have fallen to 12th place in the Western Conference, play Thursday in Columbus.