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Analyzing Each NHL Head Coach Hired During the Off-Season: Part Two

MONTREAL, CANADA - NOVEMBER 05: Head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights, Bruce Cassidy, handles bench duties during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell on November 5, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-4. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The position of an NHL head coach is a very difficult one. Often the coach becomes the scapegoat and is susceptible to the finger-pointing that comes with a team’s poor play or undesirable results. During the 2022 off-season, ten new head coaches were hired. One month into the season has provided a small sample of how each franchise has responded to their new bench boss.

Analyzing Every NHL Head Coach Hired During the Off-Season

Detroit Red Wings – Derek Lalonde

On June 30, the Detroit Red Wings announced they had hired Derek Lalonde as the Original Six franchise’s 28th head coach. This is the first NHL head coach position for Lalonde, who previously served as assistant coach to Jon Cooper for the Tampa Bay Lightning. “I’m very pleased to announce Derek as our new head coach; we feel he is ready to take the next step in his career as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.” Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said when discussing the hiring.

How the Red Wings Have Started the Season

The Red Wings have taken a jump ahead as the “Yzerplan” continues to unfold. Under Lalonde’s direction, the club has a record of 6-3-2  and currently sits third in the Atlantic Division. Following some down years, it seems as if the Red Wings are making the jump to contend for a possible post-season appearance. The Red Wings penalty kill ranks ninth with an 82.4% success rate. The powerplay has room for growth, currently sitting 19th converting on 20% of their opportunities. Detroit had many roster changes over the summer, and they are paying off early. New addition Dominik Kubalik has enjoyed success early under the new coach, posting 12 points in 10 games. Goalie Ville Husso has played a large part in Detroit’s early success posting a sparkling .943 SV%.

Overall the Red Wings have responded nicely to the hiring of Lalonde. Look for Detroit to be on the bubble of playoff contention as the season wears on.

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Winnipeg Jets – Rick Bowness

After being heavily linked to Manitoba native Barry Trotz, the Winnipeg Jets instead announced they had hired longtime NHL head coach Rick Bowness. “We’re very excited to hire Rick Bowness as the third head coach of Jets 2.0,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said. Bowness entered this season with plenty of coaching experience, most recently behind the Dallas Stars bench.

How the Jets Have Started the Season

Bowness announced the Jets would enter the season without a captain, as Blake Wheeler had the “C” removed from his jersey. Amid the questions surrounding the Jets’ direction, no one knew what to expect from the club. Early on, those questions were silenced by a 7-3-1 record for the Jets. Winnipeg currently sits in second place in the Central Division. The Jets have played well defensively allowing an average of 2.7 goals per game. Connor Hellebuyck has been a workhorse this season, starting in 9 of 11 games. However, goal scoring needs improvement if Winnipeg expects to keep up its solid start.

Bowness has received good performances from his club through the first month of the season; perhaps no one has stepped up their game as much as defenceman Josh Morrissey. Look for the Jets to continue to battle for a playoff spot as the season progresses.

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Dallas Stars – Peter DeBoer

On June 24, the Dallas Stars named Peter DeBoer as their new head coach. DeBoer brings experience and some limited success to the table as an NHL head coach.  DeBoer has coached the New Jersey Devils and the San Jose Sharks to Stanley Cup Finals appearances, losing in both instances. “Pete brings a wealth of experience to our dressing room, and we’re thrilled to name him our next head coach.” Stars GM Jim Nill said.

How the Stars Have Started the Season

The Stars are another team that has started the season surprisingly well. After the delays in signing two of their prominent players in, goalie Jake Oettinger and forward Jason Robertson, the club’s direction was unclear. One month into the season, the Stars are sitting atop the Central division with an 8-3-1 record. Longtime Stars forwards Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have been resurgent this season under their new bench boss. Dallas has been scoring goals in abundance under DeBoer averaging 3.64 goals per game.

Their powerplay is connecting at a 26.3% success rate, good for seventh. Defensively, the Stars have been just as solid, allowing only 2.27 goals against per game, currently second in the league. Their penalty kill has been equally successful to their powerplay as they have killed off 84.8% of the powerplay opportunities they’ve given up.

Though it is early, it appears the Stars will challenge for the Central division title on the backs of their improved special teams and the phenomenal goaltending of Oettinger.

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Boston Bruins – Jim Montgomery

On June 30, Boston Bruins named Jim Montgomery as their new head coach. Montgomery had previously been an NHL head coach, on one occasion, for the Stars. Montgomery had most recently served as an assistant coach for the St. Louis Blues. “Jim has a winning history, and throughout the interview process, he conveyed his ability to connect with all types of players while also demanding that his teams play with structure,” Bruins GM Don Sweeney said.

How the Bruins Have Started the Season

The Bruins have gotten off to a franchise-best start to the season. Posting a record of 10-2 through their first 12 games under Montgomery, the Bruins sit on top of the Atlantic Division. The feat has been extraordinary, considering the injuries to Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy to begin the season. Boston is scoring throughout their line-up, averaging 4.45 goals per game for first in the league. Defensively the Bruins rank fourth, allowing an average of 2.55 goals against per game. In addition, Boston’s penalty kill ranks first in the league with an incredible 94.9 % success rate.

Montgomery has managed to get production out of players who didn’t excel under former coach Bruce Cassidy. Look for Boston to continue their strong play as a McAvoy return-to-action looms.

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Vegas Golden Knights – Bruce Cassidy

Bruce Cassidy, former Boston Bruins head coach, wasn’t out of work for long as the Vegas Golden Knights announced his hiring on June 14. “I am excited to join an organization that shares my commitment to winning and can’t wait to get to work with the talent that has been assembled in Vegas”. Cassidy said when speaking on the hiring. Cassidy had a record of 245-108-46 as an NHL head coach and led Boston to six straight playoff appearances.

How the Golden Knights Season has Started

Vegas has started the season solidly, sitting first overall in the NHL standings with 22 points through 13 games. The Golden Knights hold a record of 11-2-0 mainly due to their stellar defensive play allowing a league-best 1.92 goals against per game. Both special teams units could improve as the powerplay and penalty kill currently rank in the middle of the league. Vegas has been playing some very disciplined hockey under Cassidy and take a league-low 5.3 penalty minutes per game.

The Golden Knights have been getting great goaltending from Logan Thompson and Adin Hill. Thompson has seen more action, and it won’t be surprising to hear his name mentioned when it comes to Calder Trophy candidates. Jack Eichel is leading the Golden Knights offence putting up over a point a game pace.

It looks as though Bruce Cassidy has brought his regular-season success over with him, and Vegas will contend as one of the top teams in the Western Conference this season.

All stats provided for the article came from

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