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With Therrien Out of Montreal, Who's Next to be Fired?

Speak of the devil and the devil shall … get fired? Well, apparently, that’s the case. A little over an hour after I wrote about Michel Therrien’s odds of being fired moving from +500 to +175, he was canned and replaced by recently fired Bruins head coach Claude Julien. The funniest part of this absolutely villainous move by Marc Bergevin is that this is the second time Julien has replaced Therrien as the head coach of the Canadiens.

With Therrien’s exit from Montreal bringing the number of NHL head coaches fired this season to five, the next swing of the ax could be right around the corner. Bovada has updated its odds for the prop once again and Stars bench boss Lindy Ruff tops the list at +170 followed by Paul Maurice of the Jets (+300) and Jon Cooper of the Lightning (+500).

Ruff’s name has been tossed around pretty loosely by the media in hot-seat rumors as the Stars have underachieved massively this season. Lindy has had the excuse of poor goaltending at his disposal since his 2013 arrival in Dallas but with a decent crew of defensemen now occupying the space in front of Antti Niemi and Kari Let-it-in, the team's .894 save percentage – that’s dead last in the league – has become unacceptable.

Like I’ve said before, I think Dallas waits until the end of the season to ditch Ruff but as was highlighted by Therrien’s firing just an hour after I said he would probably be spared, I’m very often wrong. NHL upper management is becoming unpredictable and impossible to trust. The Islanders’ and Canadiens’ GMs both tied themselves to their head coaches this year, saying they wouldn’t be fired, and both went back on their word within weeks.

I’m done making predictions on the employment of NHL head coaches as the fickleness of general managers has reached an all-time high. A path to follow here, though, is take the guys on this list who offer the most value. Therrien was +500 to lose his job under a week before he did, so there’s a precedent for loyalties quickly changing.

I’ll once again throw Dave Hakstol’s name out there as a value bet as I think he has just as good a chance of hitting the unemployment line as the guys at the top of the board. He’s made some incredulous decisions behind the Flyers bench this year and his team has crumbled since a 10-game winning streak in 2016.

Who will be the next NHL Head Coach to be fired?

Odds as of February 15 at Bovada

  • Lindy Ruff (DAL) +170
  • Paul Maurice (WPG) +300
  • Jon Cooper (TB) +500
  • Glen Gulutzan (CGY) +800
  • Jeff Blashill (DET) +800
  • Jared Bednar (COL) +800
  • Willie Desjardins (VAN) +1000
  • Dave Hakstol (PHI) +2200

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Less than a week after our last update, Michel Therrien has moved way up the list and become the newest favorite to be the next NHL coach fired. There are several reasons for the movement from +500 to +175 but the biggest factor is probably that his general manager has held multiple meetings with his players with Therrien specifically not present.

I have no idea what Marc Bergevin is saying to these players, but whatever it is, it can't be good for Therrien. My only hesitance to drop money on the Habs bench boss to lose his job right now comes from Bergevin virtually tying himself to Therrien by saying he would not be fired before the end of the season. That said, ownership could decide to can them both, but if that were to happen it wouldn't be until they stopped playing hockey this year. Bovada moving this line so aggressively makes me a little gun-shy as well, as it seems like they're trying to attract action from people overreacting to recent events, including a bad loss to the Bruins.

In all likelihood, the Canadiens will probably shake things up behind the bench but at this point, it doesn't look like Therrien is going anywhere. It would not be surprising to me at all if one or even two of the Habs' assistant coaches got the ax with Montreal's special teams and goaltending floundering. Canadiens fans are calling for blood and if none is produced, they'll make their voices heard.

If you're still looking to make a bet on this prop, you may want to focus on value. Dave Hakstol's name just hit the list at a lofty +3000 line and given how the Flyers have struggled since their 10-game winning streak, ditching Hakstol is probably a good move with the playoffs still within sight. The Flyers play-caller has made some mind-boggling decisions this year and if I were setting the odds, I would probably have Hakstol at about +1000. 

Who will be the next NHL Head Coach to be fired?

Odds as of February 14 at Bovada

  • Michel Therrien (MTL) +175
  • Lindy Ruff (DAL) +200
  • Paul Maurice (WPG) +600
  • Glen Gulutzan (CGY) +1100
  • Jeff Blashill (DET) +1100
  • Jon Cooper (TB) +1200
  • Jared Bednar (COL) +1200
  • Willie Desjardins (VAN) +1500
  • Dave Hakstol (PHI) +3000

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All in all, it’s been a horrendous year for NHL head coaches. The recent firing of Claude Julien brought the number of bench bosses fired this year to four and brought me to the conclusion that job security in the NHL is at an all-time low. With the next head coach firing right around the corner – probably – let’s take a look at some of the candidates.

According to Bovada, Lindy Ruff, head coach of the underachieving Dallas Stars, is the guy most likely to be the fifth NHL head coach fired this season. In his fourth season with the club, the longtime Buffalo bench boss has his team on pace for just 79 points. This would be a terrible result after their 109-point Central Division-winning 2016-17 campaign in a season when most – including me – expected them to compete for a top spot in the West. Local papers in the Big D have been reporting on potential replacements for Ruff already so it looks like the writing is on the wall. You can grab him right now for +175 but I’m not so sure that Dallas management doesn’t wait until after the deadline to see what Ruff does with an actual goaltender – assuming they bring one in.

After Ruff, we have big names like Paul Maurice (+350), Jon Cooper (+400) and Michel Therrien (+550). With Julien back on the market, these guys should all be worried as I could see the former Bruin behind the bench of any of these three clubs. Maurice is on the hot seat in Winnipeg for his recent handling of rookie superstar Patrik Laine and Jets’ management could be looking for somebody – like Julien – to bring some stability to the position.

Therrien, though, should have his bags already packed. After starting the year 13-1-1, the Habs have gone well under .500 since and Marc Bergevin has been vocal that he’ll make a splash before the trade deadline. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Therrien but I think with the Canadiens still in contention, Montreal could pull a move similar to the one the Penguins executed last season when they fired Mike Johnston in the middle of the season to shake things up.

The rookies, Jared Bednar and Glen Gulutzan, probably don’t have much to worry about at least until the end of the season. Colorado is on pace for a whopping 52 points and there would be no point bringing in another guy and having to pay Bednar for two more years beyond this season. Gulutzan, on the other hand, has turned his team around and it looks like they’re bound for the playoffs. It would be foolish to get rid of him when it looks like his philosophies are starting to pay off and, barring an utter collapse, we should see him behind the Flames bench for at least another season.

Beyond these guys, you’ll see Willie Desjardins and Jeff Blashill, who are each offering +1500 value. Despite themselves, the Vancouver Canucks are challenging for a playoff spot and Jim Benning is a raving lunatic. With a coach like Julien sitting around waiting for work, I think it’s only a matter of time before someone unstable like Benning makes an irrational decision. At +1500, I’m incredibly interested in the line for Desjardins.

Who will be the next NHL Head Coach to be fired?

Odds as of February 9 at Bovada               

  • Lindy Ruff (DAL) +175
  • Paul Maurice (WPG) +350
  • Jon Cooper (TB) +400
  • Michel Therrien (MTL) +550
  • Jared Bednar (COL) +1200
  • Glen Gulutzan (CGY) +1400
  • Willie Desjardins (VAN) +1500
  • Jeff Blashill (DET) +1500

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Update: Jack Capuano has been relieved of his duties as of January 17. It was likely an ownership decision as Garth Snow was always quick to defend the Isles' head coach. Doug Weight will serve as the interim coach in the wake of Cap's firing. These odds will be updated when books release lines on who will be the third head coach fired.
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What a gyp. The first NHL coach fired this season wasn’t even on oddsmakers’ radars and if you had money on this wager, you were likely just as irked as Gerard Gallant when the axe came down on his head.

In response to the surprising firing of the former Panthers bench boss, Bovada has released odds for the second coach to be fired this season and it’s the usual suspects occupying the board.

I was shocked when I heard the Gallant news. I, however, would not be shocked if Jack Capuano was fired by the time I posted this article. The Islanders have been one of the worst teams in the league so far and I don’t see it getting much better. Cap is in the midst of his seventh season as the Isles’ play-caller and he’s never advanced past the second round of the playoffs. It’s time for a change in Brooklyn.

Garth Snow, the general manager of the Islanders, has given Capuano his vote of confidence but as we’ve seen from GMs in the past – they lie. In the great words of Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “the lady doth protest too much, methinks.” I would be baffled if coach Cap made it to Christmas, but maybe Isles’ management is waiting for the holidays to come around to soften the blow.

If it’s not clear from that short rant, my money’s on the +175 line for Capuano to be the next head coach to hit the unemployment line. It would be on Willie Desjardins if it weren’t for the total ineptitude of the Canucks front office.

Who will be the SECOND Head Coach fired in the 2016-17 NHL season?

Odds as of November 28 at Bovada               

  • Willie Desjardins (VAN) +150
  • Jack Capuano (NYI) +175
  • Glen Gulutzan (CAL) +400
  • Paul Maurice (WPG) +700
  • Bill Peters (CAR) +750

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The Vancouver Canucks’ delusions seem to continue and the rumors that Willie Desjardins’ job is in jeopardy continue to swirl as they’ve now lost nine straight games.

It was only a matter of time before the ’Nucks started to suck and now they really, really suck. During their nine-game losing streak, they’ve scored just 12 total goals – the Blue Jackets scored 10 in ONE game on the weekend. While I don’t think Desjardins is the culprit for the Canucks’ woes, I do believe he’ll serve nicely as the organization’s scapegoat and will more than likely suffer the consequences for Jim Benning’s failures as a general manager.

Desjardins has been with the club for parts of three seasons now but it’s likely his days are numbered. Bovada is offering a +200 line for the Canucks bench boss to be the first to lose his job and as the clouds over Vancouver get darker and darker, the elephant in the room gets bigger and bigger. Willie might not last the rest of the Canucks’ current road trip.

If cooler heads prevail in the ’Nucks front office, Islanders head coach Jack Capuano is the next in line with his head on the chopping block.

The Islanders have underachieved this year and have not attained the kind of success they should have with the talent that’s come and gone through the New York dressing room the last few years. This is Capuano’s seventh season with the club and he’s never led them past the second round of the playoffs. If the Isles continue to struggle, Capuano could be looking for work – and it may come from the potential vacancy in Vancouver.

Who will be the first Head Coach fired in the 2016-17 NHL season?

Odds as of November 8 at Bovada               

  • Willie Desjardins (VAN) +200
  • Jack Capuano (NYI) +210
  • Peter Laviolette (NAS) +650
  • Dave Tippett (ARI) +650
  • John Tortorella (CLB) +1000
  • Paul Maurice (WIN) +1200
  • Michel Therrien (MTL) +1500

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Like in most pro sports, NHL head coaching jobs seem to be very fleeting. There are, however, a group of men who always seem to be on the hot seat and if you enjoy betting on the job security of other people, sportsbooks have released odds on who will be the first NHL head coach fired this season.

It’s not a lock that a coach will be fired this year but it is awfully likely. Two coaches, Todd Richards of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Mike Johnston of the Pittsburgh Penguins, were both given their marching orders in the middle of last year’s campaign and there are a few guys this year who could be on the chopping block.

Bovada was the first book to have odds out on this prop and John Tortorella, head coach of the Blue Jackets, is the No. 1 candidate to be canned before the end of the year. Torts is no stranger to being fired as he was relieved of his duties as the Canucks bench boss after one season only a year after losing his job as head coach of the Rangers.

Willie Desjardins and Jack Capuano sit right behind Torts in the odds table and both serve as excellent candidates to hit the unemployment line at some point this year. The Vancouver Canucks have had four head coaches since 2006 and three since 2013 – they are a franchise in a transitional period but can’t seem to accept that. If the ’Nucks, who have actually started the season 3-0 – only adding to their delusions – start to fall out of the playoff race, Desjardins could have to dust off the ol’ resume.

The best value bet I can offer here is Michel Therrien. It doesn’t matter what kind of success a Montreal Canadiens team is having, the coach and players are under perpetual pressure and always seem to be on the hot seat. Montreal has gotten off to an excellent start – despite Carey Price not yet suiting up – but if the offense starts to stagnate, like it did last season, Therrien will be out of Montreal.

NHL teams are weird, though, so this one is tough. Teams will sometimes fire a coach just to mix things up even if a team is succeeding. There are a few names that I feel should be on this list that are not and Bovada has made it an option to have “Others available on request,” so if you have an inside scoop, it may pay off to give them a shout.

Who will be the first Head Coach fired in 2016-17 NHL season?

Odds as of October 19 at Bovada               

  • John Tortorella (CLB) +325               
  • Willie Desjardins (VAN) +350               
  • Jack Capuano (NYI) +375               
  • Michel Therrien (MTL) +550               
  • Claude Julien (BOS) +650                
  • Paul Maurice (WIN) +700              
  • Alain Vigneault (NYR) +700

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