x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

NHL playing field even but unfair on losing coaches

One-fifth of the league's teams had changed coaches before the 30-game mark of the season, and the reason for it being parity.

The Montreal Canadiens have dismissed coach Jacques Martin.
The Montreal Canadiens have dismissed coach Jacques Martin.

There are a lot of jokes about how coaches in the NHL are hired to be dismissed. But this is getting ridiculous.

The Montreal Canadiens were the latest to oust their coach, terminating Jacques Martin's contract on Saturday and replacing him with Randy Cunneyworth.

A few hours later, the Los Angeles Kings revealed that Darryl Sutter would take over for the rest of the season, replacing Terry Murray, who was dismissed earlier in the week.

The moves by Montreal and Los Angeles were not the first coaching changes in the league this season.

Not even close. The Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, St Louis Blues and Washington Capitals also have switched bench bosses.

That means one-fifth of the league's teams had changed coaches before the 30-game mark of the season.

Seems extreme, no?

Perhaps we should blame parity. From a competitive standpoint, the NHL is as tight as it has ever been.

You can bet that nearly every one of the league's 30 teams entered the season with the firm belief that they would make the play-offs, or at least challenge for a berth well into the late stages of the regular season.

But the reality is, of course, that only 16 teams make the post-season so there is bound to be disappointment in the other 14 markets. And in the NHL, where there is disappointment there is going to be a coach wondering what happened.

sports@thenational.ae