Every team in the NHL has around 25 regular-season games left in the regular season. Will we see a fifth coach fired by the end of the campaign? The Bovada sportsbook offers a hockey prop on which one might be the next to go.
On Tuesday, the Montreal Canadiens made the surprising decision to fire coach Michel Therrien. Surprising because the Habs lead the Atlantic Division by a fairly comfortable margin. They hadn't been playing well of late, however, with just two wins in the past eight games. Management decided to use the team's bye week to make a change. The Canadiens hired Claude Julien, who was recently fired by the Boston Bruins. Ironically, Therrien's final game was last Sunday's 4-0 loss to Boston and Julien's replacement, Bruce Cassidy.
If the Canadiens firing Therrien and replacing him with Julien sounds familiar, it should: it also happened 46 games into the 2002-03 season. The Habs weren't much better under Julien that year and missed the playoffs. Julien stayed as the team's coach through the 2005-06 season. Therrien was the fourth coach fired in 2016-17, along with Julien, Florida's Gerard Gallant and St. Louis' Ken Hitchcock.
You never know when a team might make a change at coach. The New Jersey Devils did it in April 2007 right before the playoffs, firing Julien (of course). He was replaced behind the bench by New Jersey's GM at the time, Lou Lamoriello. That team lost in the conference semifinals.
On Bovada's NHL odds, the favorite to be the next coach fired is Dallas' Lindy Ruff at +170. Makes complete sense as the Stars had the most points in the Western Conference last season but have flopped in 2016-17 and wouldn't make the playoffs as things stand currently thanks largely to a porous defense. Only Colorado, the worst team in hockey, is below Dallas in the Central Division.
Winnipeg's Paul Maurice is next at +300. The Jets are barely ahead of the Stars in the Central and also likely to miss the playoffs. Winnipeg missed the postseason last year too so Maurice is definitely on thin ice, pardon the pun.
Your other betting options are Tampa Bay's Jon Cooper (+500), Calgary's Glen Gulutzan (+800), Detroit's Jeff Blashill (+800), Colorado's first-year coach Jared Bednar (+800), Vancouver's Willie Desjardins (+1000) and Philadelphia's Dave Hakstol (+2200).
It's quite possible all those teams miss the playoffs – the Red Wings have made the postseason an amazing 25 straight years, the longest streak in the four major American sports leagues. That streak's going to end as Detroit is among the bottom-feeders in the Eastern Conference and has been a terrible NHL betting option with the worst goals differential in the East.
Prediction: Ruff gets the gate first but after the regular season. Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw, also a regular on ESPN's “Around the Horn,” recently wrote: “Ruff will be gone at the end of this season, assuming the Stars don't win a playoff series.”