Tuesday, February 10, 2009

5 Coaches Who Could Use An Advil

#5 - Wayne Gretzky, Phoenix Coyotes

Only weeks ago it looked like the Yotes had finally turned it around. But blink your eyes in the Western Conference, and suddenly you drop from 6th to 13th. Phoenix has lost 6 in a row, by a margin of 10-25, and just got pounded at home by the Hurricanes. On top of all that, the franchise desperately needs a playoff appearance to keep its head off the chopping block. The Great One has been their coach since the lockout -- finishing another season in the cellar would be a blotch on his legacy.

#4 - Michel Therrien, Pittsburgh Penguins

Seeing the Pens get waxed 3-0 by the Red Wings was a reminder of how far they've fallen. No team has done less with more this season than Pittsburgh, who is dangerously close to slipping quietly out of the playoff race. Therrien will have a hard time finding another job if he can't get Crosby and Malkin into the postseason, so he had better hope that Sergei Gonchar is good for a 10% boost in the team's winning percentage.

#3 - Craig MacTavish, Edmonton Oilers

Strange to see this guy on the hot seat, but Oilers fans are getting restless with this team's annual bubble races. Despite management's failed gambles -- a huge contract to non-factor Dustin Penner, a Roloson/Garon goalie duo, $11m tied up in Visnovsky and Souray -- MacTavish will take the blame if Edmonton isn't in the postseason. And even if they squeak in as a 7th or 8th seed, the Oilers will be nothing but a warm-up for the Sharks or Wings. Classic case of "it's easier to change coaches than to change the whole team".

#2 - Guy Carbonneau, Montreal Canadiens

Imagine waking up in Carbonneau's shoes this morning. You are in charge of the most storied franchise in the game. You were behind the bench at the All-Star game in which they celebrated their 100th anniversary by sporting 4 Eastern starters. They are less than a year removed from a conference title, but still stinging from an early playoff exit. Many in the media considered them a Finals shoo-in this year.

But last night, they got hammered 6-2 for their fourth loss in five games. Your 21-year-old franchise goalie is starting to crack, the backup looks about as good as you'd expect from a guy named Jaro Halak, your moody "star" forward is being petulant about losing his captaincy, and the one overachieving player on the roster is out for the season. One more loss could drop you to 7th place in the conference, and 3rd in the division. This is why they put a mini-bar in the hotel room.

#1 - Tom Renney, New York Rangers

At least it'll be over soon for Renney. It's been a miserable post-lockout tenure for the guy who is only partially responsible for the Ragners' annual underachievement. Under his guidance they've never finished better than 3rd in the division despite a solid roster.

If anything, this might be the week that finally bails the poor guy out. Having played mediocre hockey since the New Year, the bottom has fallen out and the Rangers have dropped 5 in a row. Last Friday they left Dallas humbled by a shocking score of 10-2, then got waxed 3-0 by archrival New Jersey. Next up are games against the Caps, red-hot Panthers and Flyers.

Tom Renney, this one's for you!

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