Commentary

Don't blame the bench bosses

More often than not, NHL coaches have limited impact on team performance

Originally Published: December 13, 2011
By Kent Wilson | Hockey Prospectus
Terry Murray Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesTerry Murray is the latest NHL coach to lose his job. But are the Kings' struggles his fault?

Only 30 or so games into the season and already National Hockey League coaches are dropping like flies. The recent firing of Terry Murray brings the 2011-12 total to five (including Davis Payne, Paul Maurice, Bruce Boudreau and Randy Carlyle) and we haven't even hit the midseason mark.

It's often said that coaches are hired to be fired. It's a funny quip that makes light of how frequently the axe falls in the NHL, but looking at some statistical trends in the wake of past coaching changes, it appears that a coach's impact between his hiring and firing is fairly minimal. In truth, the coach is seldom at fault for a team's struggles, and the improvement teams experience after he's canned is not completely because of the new face behind the bench.


To see why coaches are often blamed for things outside of their control and how teams have responded under new coaches in 2011-12, you must be an ESPN Insider.