NHL Hot Seat: NHL Coaches on the Hot Seat 2023-24

min read
Arizona Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny, center, questions a call during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Raleigh, N.C.
(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
Michael DeRosa @ Feb 29, 2024, 8:41 AM

The NHL has seen six NHL head coaches be fired this season. It is quite possible that more will be added to the list before the campaign is over.

Because of this, let’s discuss four coaches currently on the hot seat.  

NHL Coaches on the Hot Seat

Andre Tourigny – Coyotes 

For much of this season, the Coyotes were right in the playoff hunt. They seemed to be taking a big step forward in their rebuild, but they have fallen back down to Earth immensely. The Yotes are currently riding a 13-game losing streak, and their postseason hopes have been crushed because of it. Due to this major setback, Andre Tourigny is emerging as a potential hot-seat coach. 

Tourigny signed a three-year extension before the start of the season, so the Coyotes are likely leaning toward keeping him around for now. However, if this losing streak carries on for much longer and they end the season in a horrible fashion, management will indeed consider their options.

Potential Replacement: If the Coyotes decide to make a change behind the bench, one strong replacement for Tourigny would be Jay Woodcroft. While his time in Edmonton ended poorly, he had plenty of success there. With that, players like Clayton Keller, Matias Maccelli, and Lawson Crouse could work wonderfully in his offense-first system. 

Lindy Ruff – Devils

The 2023-24 season has been quite disappointing for the Devils. At the time of this writing, they sport a 30-25-4 record and are fourth in the Metropolitan Division. They also are five points behind the Lightning for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. This is far below expectations, as they were viewed as legitimate contenders heading into the season. Thus, Lindy Ruff has been in the hot seat for much of this campaign.

Yet, what is more concerning is that the Devils are not going on the run that they desperately need right now. They have won only five out of their last 10 games. With the Devils currently out of a playoff spot, a change behind the bench may be worth making to get their season back on track. This is especially so if they start to drop even further down in the standings. One long losing skid could be enough to mark the end of Ruff’s tenure in Jersey.

Potential Replacement: If the Devils fire Ruff, they would be wise to take a shot on Craig Berube. He had a lot of success with the Blues and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2019. Bringing in a head coach who knows how to win could be what the Devils need to turn things around.

Mike Sullivan – Penguins

Mike Sullivan is a coach absolutely has the potential to be fired before the season is over. The Penguins are heading in the wrong direction, and their playoff hopes are not very high at this point of the season. They have won just five out of their last 10 games and are currently sixth in the Metropolitan Division. They are also now seven points behind the Lightning for the final Wild Card spot in the East. 

When noting that the Penguins had high expectations heading into the season, this is unacceptable. It is clear that they are trying to stay competitive during the final years of Sidney Crosby’s career, but right now, they are not close to being a playoff team. Because of this, now may be the time for a change behind the bench. The talent on their roster is there, but a new voice could be the drive they need to get things back on track.

With the trade deadline almost here, changes to the Penguins’ roster are likely on the way. Yet, with how disappointing this season has gone for them, maybe it’s time to change their head coach as well. 

Potential Replacement: If the Penguins fire Sullivan, Gerard Gallant would be a strong replacement for him. He has an excellent resume and experience helping playoff-bubble teams become contenders. Players like Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Erik Karlsson would be great fits in his offense-heavy system. 

Don Granato – Sabres

Don Granato is another coach whom fans should be paying attention to for the remainder of the season. The Sabres were expected to finally break their playoff drought this season after they took a big step forward in 2022-23. Unfortunately, they suffered a significant setback this season and are well out of the playoff hunt. They are currently sixth in the Atlantic Division, and their playoff hopes are basically gone. 

With all of this, Granato is starting to stand out as another NHL hot-seat coach. If the Sabres do not end the season on a high note, they may have their fifth head coach since 2017. It would be pretty frustrating for the club to fire another coach, but it may be needed if their poor play, especially offensively, continues from here. 

Potential Replacement: While McLellan was recently let go by the Kings due to their disastrous play in January, he could be a good fit for a team like the Sabres. McLellan has had a lot of success in the NHL over his long career behind the bench, so perhaps he could be the coach that finally gets the Sabres to become a playoff team. 

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