With the debate surrounding John Tortorella engulfing the Blue Jackets community this month, mostly due to the recent drama surrounding Pierre-Luc Dubois and a questionable opening to the season, I found myself at a loss. I honestly was not familiar at all with the NHL coaching scene (I legitimately could not remember Jon Cooper's name before I did this), especially not enough to weigh in, so I originally planned to wait it out and keep my mouth shut. However, considering that this debate has shown no signs of stopping over the past few weeks, I decided enough was enough and went into a deep statistical dive over the NHL's coaches.
I went into the individual list of every NHL team's coaches, and considered all coaches who had coached one full, continuous season between the 2010-11 and 2019-20 seasons, and recorded their:
- Seasons Coached (if they coached one game for a team during a season, that counted to this total. For example, Peter DeBoer's 2019-20 counts as 2 Seasons Coached, one for the Sharks and one for the Golden Knights)
- Full Seasons Coached (only seasons where they coached all games their team played that season. Using the DeBoer example above, that counts as NO Full Seasons)
- Regular Season Games Coached, Wins-Loss-OTL Record, and Points Percentage
- Number of Seasons that Coach made the Playoffs, as well of the percentage of their Seasons Coached where they reached the Playoffs
- Playoff Games Coached, Playoff Win-Loss Record, and Playoff Win Percentage
- Series Coached, Series Win-Loss Record, and Series Win Percentage
- Number of Series played per Playoffs made
- Number of Cups, Number of Cups per Playoffs, and Number of Cups per Season. This ended up being almost completely redundant, as only one available coach has won a Stanley Cup from 2011-2020.
Note that all of these stats are ONLY from the 2010-11 through 2019-20 Seasons. For example, Tortorella's 2004 Stanley Cup does NOT count for his Cups/Playoffs. This is to ensure that only coaches who are adept in today's NHL are considered. I then Ranked the Coaches in each of these stats, and found their average rank for all stats, average Regular Season rank, and average Playoff rank.
I then narrowed my search down to coaches that made the Playoffs at least once in the 2010-11 through 2019-20 seasons AND are not currently the head coach of an NHL team. So Barry Trotz and Jon Cooper were not considered, but if one of them gets fired it obviously changes the equation. I'm also not considering candidates that have not coached an NHL Game. I then further narrowed it down to coaches who ranked in the Top 10 Among Non-Active Coaches in all of the above categories (Average Total Rank, Average Regular Season Rank, and Average Playoff Rank). This left me with six coaches that we can compare to Tortorella directly.
I'm going to present these coaches for your consideration anonymously, in the order that I want to hire (or keep) them. I will then reveal who each coach is in the comments. Post which coach you want BEFORE UNVEILING WHO EACH COACH IS. Let's start with Coach A:
Coach A is the only coach to have won the Stanley Cup between the 2010-11 and 2019-20, but last coached in 2016-17. That season he had a 35-39-8 record and missed the playoffs. Before that, however, he had made the playoffs in four of his five other seasons, and had advanced to the Conference Final in three of them, including winning that Stanley Cup twice. In total, he has a 225-147-53 record since 2010 for a .592 Points Percentage, and lead his team to be runners-up of his division twice. He has a 42-27 record in the Playoffs, and has won 9 out of his 12 Series for an astounding 75% win rate and three series/playoffs.
Coach B has come the closest to winning Lord Stanley besides Coach A, making it to the Stanley Cup Finals once. However, his two other playoff runs were first-round eliminations before being fired last season. In total, he has a regular season record of 214-140-45 since 2010, for a .593 Points Percentage, making the playoffs in three of his four seasons that didn't end in a firing. He has an 18-15 record in the Playoffs and split his six series in the postseason.
Coach C has won the Stanley Cup, but not since 2010, so we actually don't care. He has earned 60% of the points available to him in the regular season and has made the Playoffs four of the past six years, including four straight appearances. He has a 20-21 record since 2010 in the Playoffs, having won just over 40% of the series he coached. He did make it to the Conference Final, but not with the team he last coached for. He's infamous for his sour relations with star players on his roster as of late, specifically his young 1C.
Coach D has coached the most full seasons out of these considerations, with a 332-217-61 record in the regular season in his eight full seasons since 2010. He has a .586 Points Percentage in total. He's made the Conference Final in that span, and advanced in four of his seven Playoff appearances, with a 29-40 record and five series wins (5-7 Record) since 2010. He has the highest Playoff Percentage, with 78% of his seasons ending in the Postseason.
This Coach is a demonstration as to why I'm only considering stats since 2010. Prior to that date, he has a Stanley Cup, another Finals appearance, and two Conference Finals losses. Since then, he only been back to the Conference Finals once. But beyond that, Coach E has a 316-184-57 Regular Season record since 2010, good enough for a .618 Points Percentage, second among our Candidates. In the Playoffs, he has a 20-27 record, and won 3 of 8 series since 2010. His relatively low 62.5% Playoff rate is discouraging, but two of his eight seasons were his only with that team, and one is inconclusive due to a firing.
Coach F has coached the most games since 2010, at 759 games. And he's made the most of those 759 games, with a 426-246-87 record for a .619 Points Percentage, best among our available options. He had an impressive streak of five division titles in the early and mid 2010s. However, he's the worst Playoff performer, having never made it past the second round. His playoff record is 30-32 or a .484 win percentage, but in terms of series he's at 4-7, and like I said, never gotten past the second round. And with the most experience, it seems unlikely that that will change.
Finally, we have Coach G, who is old and decidedly mediocre. At a nice 69 years young, Coach G hasn't coached since the mid-point of the 2016-17 Season, and hasn't coached in the Playoffs since 2015. In the regular season, he has a 194-121-37 record, good enough for a .604 Points Percentage. With exits in the Conference Finals, Second Round, and First Round in his three appearances, he has a 17-17 record in the Playoffs, winning 3 of 6 Series. There's a reason this guy is Coach G.
Before I let you guys decide which coach you'd hire, here's there full stat lines one more time:
A: 6 Seasons, 425 RS Games (225-147-53, .592), 66.7% Playoffs, 69 PO Games (42-27, .609), 10/12 Series Won, 3 Series per Playoffs, 2 Stanley Cups
B: 6 Seasons, 399 RS Games (214-140-45, .593), 50% Playoffs, 33 PO Games (18-15, .545), 3/6 Series Won, 2 Series Series per Playoffs
C: 6 Seasons, 458 RS Games (255-159-44, .604), 66.7% Playoffs, 41 PO Games (20-21, .488), 3/7 Series Won, 1.75 Series per Playoffs
D: 9 Seasons, 685 RS Games (366-250-69, .585), 77.8% Playoffs, 69 PO Games (29-40, .420), 5/12 Series Won, 1.71 Series per Playoffs
E: 8 Seasons, 557 RS Games (316-184-57, .618), 62.5% Playoffs, 47 PO Games (20-27, .426), 3/8 Series Won, 1.6 Series per Playoffs
F: 11 Seasons, 759 RS Games (426-246-87, .619), 63.6% Playoffs, 62 PO Games (30-32, .484), 4/11 Series Won, 1.57 Series per Playoffs
G: 5 Seasons, 352 RS Games (194-121-37, .604), 60% Playoffs, 34 PO Games (17-17, .500), 3/6 Series Won, 2 Series per Playoffs
Choose who you would hire below, and sound off in the comments to see who you picked!