Coaches carousel leaves 10 NHL teams with a new face on the bench

The coaching carousel has been spinning a little faster than usual in the NHL, which means almost a third of the league will have someone new behind the bench this season. And not just bottom eaters making changes.

Ten teams enter the season next month under a new coach, from Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida and still playoff-seeking Boston to rebuilding Chicago and San Jose.

Jean Tortorelle will try to get Philadelphia back in shape, Bruce Cassidy is responsible for bringing Vegas back to the playoffs and Derek Lalonde takes his two Stanley Cup rings as a Tampa Bay assistant for his new challenge with the Detroit Red Wings.

OFFENSE REFORM

The Philadelphia players knew they were going through changes when Tortorella was hired, so they asked Cam Atkinson, who spent six years playing for Columbus’ no-frills coach.

“I keep telling them he’s a guy who’s going to change the whole dynamic of this organization,” Atkinson said.

Tortorella was quick to say a culture change is needed after one last place finish and a decade with a playoff victory. There’s probably not much he and the players can do this year about a Cup drought that dates back to 1975, but they can start with the incredibly inconsistent game streaks that have plagued the Flyers for years, regardless of the list.

BIG MO

The Panthers were the league’s best team in the regular season last year, but struggled in the playoffs before losing in the second round to interstate rival Tampa Bay in five games. That was enough for general manager Bill Zito to decide to move on from interim coach Andrew Brunette and hired seasoned veteran Paul Maurice.

The expectation is to get back to the playoffs and compete for the Cup, and having Maurice at the helm was one of the factors. who made power forward Matthew Tkachuk choose Florida as its trade and sign destination.

“He has high hopes for our team,” Tkachuk said. “He sees us playing in a certain way that’s going to make us successful. And he’s done that. He’s been in the NHL for a long time, he’s been a successful head coach and someone I’ve really looking forward to work.

PLAYOFF ROTATION

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney fired Cassidy after a seven-game loss to Carolina in the first round despite Boston’s sixth straight playoff appearance.

Vegas had already fired Peter DeBoer, making him the scapegoat for an injury-plagued slump from the top of the Western Conference that ended in the team’s first playoff failure in five years. ‘existence. The Golden Knights quickly turned to Cassidy, who, like Maurice, brings experience and seriousness to a franchise that aspires to the championship.

“I think we’re very lucky as an organization to have him as a coach,” center Jack Eichel said. “Every person I spoke to about them said the same thing: that he has a very, very good talent for the game and that he is able to make adjustments and that he understands things. Very, very competitive – wants to win, won a lot of hockey games over the last few years. »

The Bruins replaced Cassidy with Jim Montgomery, a lifelong hockey player who gets a second chance after being fired by Dallas in December 2019 for inappropriate conduct. Montgomery sought and received help at a rehabilitation center and won great approval from the staff at St. Louis, the team for which he worked as an assistant.

“He’s a winner,” Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman said. “I think the guys are going to thrive on that energy.”

The Stars have come full circle by signing DeBoerwho coached two teams (New Jersey in 2012 and San Jose in 2016) to the Finals and is in his fifth league stint.

“It’s a tough league and it’s tough to coach and you have to be able to handle situations,” general manager Jim Nill said. “I know Pete can do it.”

LAMBERT ISLAND

Lane Lambert was an assistant under Barry Trotz with Nashville, Washington – where they won the Cup together – and the Islanders. When Trotz was brutally fired after New York missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons on the job, his right-hand man got the gig with his endorsement.

Longtime executive Lou Lamoriello thought his team needed a new voice. But Lambert isn’t that new, and his familiarity with the Islanders retains some continuity.

“Barry was great for our team, and having Lane as an assistant he had a lot of say in it as well,” forward Mathew Barzal said. “As a group we all have a good relationship with him, so I think it will be an easy transition for our team.”

MORE NEW VOICES

The last coaching change of the offseason was at San Josewith ownership and interim management laying off Bob Boughner and his assistants before Mike Grier took over as GM. Grier hired David Quinnwho recently coached the United States at the Beijing Olympics after spending three years with Rangers.

Rick Bowness, the Stars’ interim coach when Montgomery was fired who helped them reach the Finals in 2020 and was not brought back, has joined Winnipeg. He immediately made an impact by eliminating Blake Wheeler from the Jets captaincy.

The other new coaches — Lalonde in Detroit and Luke Richardson in Chicago – shouldn’t make such big waves.

Richardson, who briefly served as interim coach for Montreal in the 2021 Finals when Dominique Ducharme tested positive for the coronavirus, is overseeing the start of a long-term rebuild by the Blackhawks. Lalonde was the choice of Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman to help end the legendary franchise’s playoff drought.

“He believes in what he preaches, which I think is great to come into a new locker room,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “He made a good impression on the guys.

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Follow AP Hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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