Which NHL Coaches Are On The Hotseat Entering The 2022-23 Season?

Every season, there’s typically a carousel of firings and hirings of head coaches as a result of a lack of performing to expectations. Sometimes, mid-season firings can result in interim coaches taking the reins and leading the team into a deep playoff run, like Craig Berube of the St Louis Blues or Dominique Ducharme in Montreal.

As we’ve seen in the past, especially with the Washington Capitals, a coach’s voice can get stale in the locker room and players no longer respond to the message. On the other hand, there’s the chance that a team gets out to a slow start when they had high expectations entering the season, and general managers are left with no choice but to move on from their coach.

In this post, I’ll take a look at coaches who enter the 2022-23 season on the “hot seat”. Career records and other statistics used in this post are courtesy of Hockey Reference.

Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs

The soon-to-be 42-year-old head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been excellent in the three seasons he’s been at the helm. His coaching record of 116-50-19 is nothing to scoff at, but the story has been that the Maple Leafs have not reached the second round of the playoffs since 2003-04 when they reached the Conference Semi-Finals.

The expectations will be high as the pressure around Toronto General Manager Kyle Dubas also grows. The Maple Leafs’ core group, and large chunk of their salary cap, are high-skilled forwards, but their roster construction has been criticized due to a lack of a true number one defenseman and a franchise level goaltender.

With the Leafs entering the 2022-23 season with a goaltending tandem of Matt Murray and former Capital Ilya Samsonov, their season rests on the boom-or-bust potential of those two netminders.

Expect to see the Leafs and Dubas move on from Keefe if the Leafs don’t go on a deep playoff run this season.

DJ Smith, Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators’ General Manager Pierre Dorion made waves this offseason by acquiring Alex DeBrincat from the Chicago Blackhawks, trading for Cam Talbot from the Minnesota Wild, and signing Ottawa native Claude Giroux in free agency. Dorion is signaling to his team (and the rest of the league) that he believes that the Senators are ready to start competing for the playoffs. With those two additions and existing core pieces like Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, and Thomas Chabot, the Senators are shaping up to be vastly improved.

Smith has been a solid bench boss for the rebuilding Senators and deserves a chance to lead the young team to playoff contention. But with Dorion’s expectations around the team’s competitive level, it would not be surprising to see Smith ousted if the Senators aren’t in a playoff spot after the first couple months of the season.

Dallas Eakins, Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks are in an interesting spot entering the 2022-23 season. They had to watch their rival in Los Angeles jumpstart their rebuild by qualifying for the playoffs last season when expectations were low. Anaheim’s longtime GM Bob Murray was fired early in 2022 and  replaced with Pat Verbeek. Many times, we’ve seen GMs fire the existing head coach to replace them with someone they’ve handpicked for the role.

Eakins has been with Anaheim since the 2019-20 season and has yet to make the playoffs as an NHL head coach in parts of five seasons in the role in his career. With Verbeek supplementing the roster by signing Ryan Strome (previously with the New York Rangers) and John Klingberg (previously with the Dallas Stars), it appears that he’s signaling that the Ducks’ rebuild is close to ending. With their young stars in Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, as well as existing core pieces like Cam Fowler and John Gibson, Anaheim could move on from Eakins this season.

Peter Laviolette, Washington Capitals

Prior to the 2020-21 season, the Capitals signed Laviolette to a three-year contract to help lead the Capitals back to the heights they experienced when hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2018. Since the Cup win, the Capitals have not gotten out of the first round of the playoffs.

With Laviolette entering the final year of his deal, it would be financially feasible for the Capitals to move on from Laviolette if the performance during the early parts of the season is below expectations.

Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan went out in free agency and addressed the team’s biggest issue since Braden Holtby’s departure: the lack of a franchise goaltender. With the signing of Darcy Kuemper, the expectation will be that the Capitals will qualify for the playoffs and make a deep run in the playoffs.

With the injuries to Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom, there will be some difficulties getting there. But with the additions of Dylan Strome and Connor Brown, holes in the top six should be filled while Wilson and Backstrom are on the mend.

If the Capitals aren’t in a playoff spot in the standings by Thanksgiving, it would not be a shock if Laviolette was shown the door. At the very least, if the Capitals don’t get out of the first round of the playoffs, Laviolette is unlikely to be retained.

By Justin Trudel

About Justin Trudel

Justin is a lifelong Caps fan, with some of his first memories of the sport watching the team in the USAir Arena and the 1998 Stanley Cup appearance. Now a resident of St. Augustine, FL, Justin watches the Caps from afar. Justin graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Political Science from Towson University, and a Master's of Science in Applied Information Technology from Towson University. Justin is currently a product manager. Justin enjoys geeking out over advanced analytics, roster construction, and cap management.
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24 Responses to Which NHL Coaches Are On The Hotseat Entering The 2022-23 Season?

  1. novafyre says:

    Lavi has been betting the house on vets, often AARP vets and injured vets. Offseason, Caps went out and acquired more vets. I would think that if he again sits his rookies/prospects, bets on vets, and doesn’t get a lot farther (winning not just one but two rounds) he could be shown the door.

    Wild card is, as always, Ovi.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Completely agree. Lavi’s pushed all his chips to the center of the table, and stuck to his “Vets over youth” philosophy every inch of the way. It will be his deciding factor.

    • Eric Lord says:

      Vets over youth got Bruce Cassidy fired in Boston and it could get Lavi fired in Washington. In today’s NHL, you really need a combination of vets & youth. The team’s that have been winning Stanley Cups have done that. Continuing to run out underperforming vets over a young player that can bring a spark to your lineup isn’t the best strategy.

  2. steven says:

    Sorry to say this but IMHO the owner who I think has no idea what is going on (unless it involves Ovie scoring or them winning or losing a game) and the GM both need to grow a huge pair and should have told lavi after this past season “We have a lot of young players tha need and are going to play and we are not signing a vet like Johannson just to make you happy. SO you can coach the team as we make it up or you can walk right now while politely getting up from his chair and showing him the door). Frankly no matter what the Caps do this season Lav should not be offered a contract (after all they let their best HC go over money not caring that they were also tossing away a possible 2nd Cuo). In fact I would not mind at all seeing him (and McCrarthy go along with lav) gone before Thanksgiving and letting Scott Allen take over for the rest of the year. Truly a shame that both the owner and GM are so enamored with just making the playoffs and Ovies chase of the scoring record that they have lost sight of (or probably ignored) the need to rebuild, replace, refurbish the roster with younger players and not keep ALL the old players. Some of them should have been traded when they had value.

    • novafyre says:

      I agree that when the change occurs, it should be more than just Lavi. Will be interesting to see how many season tickets are sold this year, how many seats we see empty every game, how many fannies in the seats are not wearing Caps colors. We’ve already seen this at FedEx.

      Don’t have a replacement GM to suggest, but I’d prefer Carbs as HC.

    • um, yeah says:

      Tell me you don’t follow the team, or hockey in general, without saying I’m ignorant of what is going on with the team and the league.

      1. The playoffs are important both for the finances of the business and for the development of the entertainment produce. Teams in rebuilds rarely turn them around quickly, and lost lost years of not making the playoffs cost money and fan involvement.
      2. Teams that make the playoffs as consistently as the Caps have are very rare. the Caps have one of the best regular season records over the past 15 years and among the most playoff appearances. Continuing that trend is much better for the franchise health for both the business and fans than something like what happened with the Blackhawks who’s meteoric rise from being crap came with just as massive of a collapse back into being crap in that same time. Consistency is coveted for building a business and a fanbase especially in fickle markets like what DC has been as a sports market overall.
      3. The Chase is going to net a much greater fan and financial reward for the franchise than another Stanley Cup. There’s only been 5 players to hold that record in 100 years, and the three in the “modern” era are all household names, only 3 players in the top 30 all time have scored that much with only a single franchise, of which all three are household names that are synonymous with their franchise. Even if Ovi doesn’t pass Gretzky the media coverage building up to it outside of hockey will be more than enough to draw amazing amounts of attention to the team in ways that the Cup doesn’t. Plus, Cup marketing for a team has an expiration date that all time titles don’t.
      4. The team iced a league tying number of rookies over the last few years. Depending on who’s calculating their average team age it has been trending toward the older side, top 5 in the league during the last few years, but their average age last year was within a quarter of a year of the Lightening and you don’t hear anyone crying about their average age right now.
      5. The entire blue line, other than carlson, are on expiring contracts this season. Over the next two seasons nearly the entire bottom six turns over on expired contracts. The team is getting a makeover that coincides with Lavy’s expiring coaching contract and, coincidently, the projected progress of many of the youth that they’ve been developing over the last few years. 10 seconds looking at Capfriendly would have shown you how the contract staggering since GMBM took over looks like he’s deliberately working around specific milestones when shaping the roster.
      6. Youth movements don’t win. The average age of a Stanely Cup challenging team in 28, with the average age of a playoff bound team just a shade older, and the Stanley Cup winning team a shade younger. They all ice multiple 30+ year old players. This is because winning takes experience and maturity. It’s the reason why those talent loaded but very young Toronto and Edmonton teams foundered so badly. And, even now having finally decided to get some vets they’re still struggling to turn the corner in the playoffs. The best teams are balanced. They have young, inexpensive players and grisly vets, they have some guys that are fast, and some guys that are bulls, they have the ability to continue to have players step up when the circumstances necessitate it. On the latter, some of that is culture and some of it is luck, and not all teams have both. But youth, just for the sake of youth? That’s just a desire to sit in the basement and collect draft picks that may or may not ever come to fruition (how many #1s did Edmonton waste?)

      • steven says:


        Rebuild is where you tear down and start over, retool is where you gradually work younger players into the lineup. That is what the Caps have the ability to do. Rather they choose to keep getting older players at cheap salaries to try and make the playoffs only to keep loosing in the 1st round 4 of the last 4 years. Not progress or a Cupp team. They are getting older, slower and the teams in their division are youger, faster and improving. Honestly this year see them as being 5th or 6th in their division; 6th if the Islanders perform as they should. I would rathre mis the playoffs and get a higher draft pick than make the playoffs and have draft picks that take years to develop.

        The Chase is only important while it is going on. A Title banner hangs in the rafters forever and people talk about it for years. Yes you will sell a few more tickets and trinkets during his chase but true fans want the playofs and not just to get there and then exit in the first round like the Caps have the last 4 years.

        The Lightening have won 2 out of the past 3 Cups and naturally no one is going to cry when winning. Ever Pitt retools however this is the first summer where the Caps have and sad to say but next summer it is going to be bad as 13 of the players are either UFA or FA and then 2 more the following year.

        You need, and the Caps could have a mix of older and younger players IF and that is a big IF the HC was not against playig rookies or younger players. AS for the GM, he is nothing more than a retread of GMGM and this team needs new thinking and ideas from the GM and HC as in (including this season( 4 years when Ovie walks away there is not much to chose from in terms of scoring. YOu are really going to tell me that Oshie will be around or Kuzy in 4 years doing what they have dont in the past? Do you keep Orlov next summer or try and trade Carlson to keep Orlov?

        I would rather NOT go through another 1st round exit with a lame duck HC but instead replace him asap and the GM and as this team is eother a 1st round exit or a no show in the playoffs start trading a few pieces starting in Jan for picks or younger players for the future adn then letting those traded be replaced by kids from Hershey.

        • novafyre says:

          Thanks you Steven. Yes, retool instead of rebuild. I guess I am more used to college football where the HC has to retool every year, waving goodbye to the seniors and welcoming the freshmen. I admit, the Caps don’t have the 100 plus player pool that a college football team has. But I still believe in a gradual retooling every year rather than a complete teardown and rebuild. I am not in favor of the Caps continuing on their elderly path until Ovi retires and then fall off the cliff. I would rather see gradual change utilizing 2 or 3 younger players each year.

      • novafyre says:

        #3 Chase. Chase is great. What if Ovi is hurt in training camp and out the entire year. How many chase tickets do you sell then?

        I watch hockey (NHL, AHL, ECHL) for entertainment. If we make it to the playoffs, great. If we win the Cup, I will celebrate. But when I sit down to watch a game I want to say, win or lose, that was a great game, a great effort by my team. Last half of the season, there were far too many games that left me flat. Not because we lost, but because they were not entertaining. I felt that they were injured, they were tired, or they just weren’t interested.

  3. steven says:

    I like the idea of bring up a guy who has already had experience with the younger players adn knows the system. But isbt he in Toronto this year as an assistant? IF so that means that the Caps would have to ask and receive permission from Toronto to talk to him. Another cane os the Caps management being slow on the move as keeping McCarthy realy doesnt do much for this team except give McCarthy a paycheck. How about Derek LaLonde or Mike Vellucci or Cam Abbott wonder if Rick Tockett would like to be a GM and would even settle for him as the HC as long as they get a young coaching staff. Im thinking Chris MacFarland the Avs AGM or maybe Mathieu Darche from the Panthers. Please not another clone of GMGM or GMBM and hopefully NOE they will revampo the whole front office adn scouting staff.

    I think you are more likely to see lots of other colored sweaters in the stands…..NY Rangers, NY Islanders, Pitt, Philly, NJ and even Columbus and Carolina however you have to remember that Ovie is going for the scoring record and I believe that is what the owner is counting on to sell tickets.

    • novafyre says:

      Derek LaLonde is new head coach in Detroit.

      I liked Carbs for the jobs back when he was Bears HC. Now that he has NHL AC experience I like him even more. I think he was on someone’s list for one of the HC jobs this summer. I think teams are looking at him. Bad enough losing him to Toronto, would hate to lose him twice.

  4. DWGie26 says:

    Well, I just renewed my 4 season tickets. And I hope we extend Lavi and GMBM doesn’t go anywhere. If those guys leave and we start trading all of our players to rebuild I will be done. Not sitting through that rebuild process again. But I’ll watch it on TV.

    That said, 3 years of a first round exit is maddening. But we have a better chance of going deep or winning a cup in OV era with Lavi and GMBM than with new management. It takes a long time to build an organization in hockey. A long time. Maybe in 3-4 years I’ll feel differently, but in the moment now, extend Lavi and keep GMBM.

    On Trotz. he wasn’t well liked in Washington. And he wasn’t well liked in New York either. And didn’t win jack in 15 years in Nashville. Was shown the door in all three cities. Let’s stop pretending like he is the greatest coach ever.

    • Eric Lord says:

      Trotz didn’t have a lot of talent in Nashville when he was there. They started spending money after he left. He won a Cup with the Caps and left because the Caps didn’t want to pay him. In New York, he was let go because one player didn’t like him because Trotz held that player accountable for his mistake. The problem for Trotz was that player was the Islanders star Matt Barzal

      • steven says:

        So true and it is easier and cheaper to let a coach go than a player expecially in the cap era. Ti me it seems that both the owner and Gm are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to coaches and sometimes players.

        • novafyre says:

          Jon or anyone more informed can correct me, but what I read at the time was that Trotz had a contract. He didn’t want to honor it. He wanted it torn up and a new one written. I felt that Ted was ‘dissed’ as the current saying goes. He felt betrayed. I also seem to remember that in February that season there had been a lot of talk of firing Trotz and replacing him with Mumbles (Reirden). If all that is true, I don’t blame Ted for Trotz leaving. Trotz could have stayed and honored his contract.

          • DWGie26 says:

            That is correct. it was an auto-extension/option clause. It was undervalued contract for a cup winning coach and Trotz jumped on that point as an excuse to go get more money. But there was already friction and the Caps has already anointed Reirdon as the next coach. they wanted an unproved, up and coming coach. IMHO it wasn’t an either/or but a confluence of both items.

          • Jon Sorensen says:

            Fyre, you are essentially correct. He had an automated renewal (if he wanted) for a modest bump if they won the cup. It was still less than half of what other coaches were making.

            I sat down and crafted a timeline of all the pertinent facts, which began a full 2 years before Caps won the cup.


            • novafyre says:

              Thanks Jon. I didn’t know it went that far back. Or didn’t remember.

              Trotz knew the contract terms when he came to Washington right? His salary didn’t suddenly drop into the bottom half that last year. He knew the terms of the potential extension when he signed out of Nashville. So I can see Ted feeling that there was a breach of faith. But all the Mumbles positioning could be viewed by Trotz as a breach of faith as well.

              I miss his goatee. Doesn’t look as good cleanshaven.

    • steven says:

      Sorry to disagree but this no longer is a Cuo team or even a deep playoff team. They are old, slow and single focused on certain things, for example the PP has not significantly changes in what 10 or 12 years and before you jump down my throat yes Ovie is still scoring however might they be more effective and possible have hin score more if others scored more?

      The lst 4 years the Caps have won 3, 2, 1, 2 games in the playofffs since winning the Cup. Does that look or sound like a team that is going deep and a Cup team or a team that is just hanging on? So not once in the past 4 seasons ahve they gotten past the first round despite trading younger players for older players. Seems that that strategy is not working.

      Shame that you feel that you cant sit through another rebuilding process but can sit through just barely making it to the playoffs and then loosing and making a quick and ungracelfu exit. The idea is to obtain a HC and GM who do not trade the future for just making to the playffs now to satisfy “fair weather” fans. I am so glad to see tht you have drunk all the kool-aid past out by the owner, GM and HC that you are blinded by what is happening and that you are so satisfied with “Your” team that if the do a rebuild you will quit going to games because “not sitting through that rebuild process again”. Hate tobreak it to you but that is what sports is about winning, tearing down and rebuilding to win again and then repeat. It is that constant cycle that makes it interesting.

      Asfor Trotz he WAS liked in Washington just tha the owner was not willing to pay the only man who ever got this team to play as a team for a whole season. Nashville they had no taent and one man in NY didnt like him so management let him go. Trotz has been teh same everywhere……holding players accountable for their actions or lack ther of on the ice and even Ovie had no problem with that because most players realize you need discapline to win the Cup.

      • DWGie26 says:

        It’s not that i am drinking the kool-aid. I am a business person and steeped pretty deep in hockey. I’ll spare you all of the credentials, because here i am just a hockey fan with a different opinion.

        But as Um said, rebuilding (which is what your words are saying), is a long drawn out process that costs fan support and revenue and as a billionaire businessman Ted is going to smartly capitalize on that.

        On Trotz… many wanted him fired during the season. And in that case Ted/GMBM wanted to go young and upcoming with their head coach. Same with Cassidy, Oates, and Hunter. A veteran team needs a strong veteran leader and I think Lavi is one of the best. I also know for a fact that the players and management like him a lot and mostly pointing the finger at themselves.

        Lastly, if the rookies truly earned a spot, we wouldn’t have signed Mojo. But AJF, Leason, Snively, and Malenstyn aren’t just going to be gifted a spot. We tried that with goalies the last three years and it didnt work. I hope they do this year so we can move on from Eller, Mojo, and maybe Sheary and Hathaway. But if the youngsters don’t, then you will see veterans signed this offseason. That is the business (and winning) side of the business.

        • novafyre says:

          To me, introducing 2 or 3 rookies a year is not rebuilding. Rebuilding is when you structure contracts so that they all end at the same time and you change everybody out. I don’t want a rebuild. I don’t agree with those who keep saying let’s just keep it going until Ovi retires and then we can scrap the team. That’s pushing the gurney off a cliff instead of smoothly rolling down a ramp.

          Rookies did well at the start of the year. After that, I do not believe Lavi gave them a chance. Too much time was spent in the Covid taxi, in the press box, or on the bench. Players were put in the wrong positions. Even when fresh legs would not do any worse than the worn out vets who were playing, they did not get a chance.

          This year, I hope to see them all have that chance on ice whether it be with the Caps or with the Bears. But on the ice.

          • DWGie26 says:

            We are saying very similar things. I have said many times here I would like to have 2-3 youngsters EARNING a roster spot each year. Last year it was Fever and McMichael becoming full timers. This year Snively and Johannson have legit shots to EARN a spot. Strome is 25. AJF and Leason are in the mix but will have to really outplay veterans in front of them. And I think next year there could be 3-4 who step in with expiring contracts.

            What i don’t want to do is burn the house down. The youth movement is happening but players have to earn it as well. I think the movement would have started sooner if players were ready.

            • novafyre says:

              I think where we disagree is that you feel the rookies were given ample opportunity to earn those spots and I feel that they weren’t. Lavi said in a post practice video that he would play rookies if the Caps were ahead in the game. That is why our rookies saw so little ice time even when they dressed. Also, the plays need to fit the players or the players need to fit the plays. Or positions. I felt that often he played rookies out of position and in situations where they were not able to use their strengths. I’m also not sure that they got the coaching that they needed for their development.

              Anyway, whether with the Caps or Bears I hope to see them on the ice not on the bench this season.

  5. Eric Lord says:

    DJ Smith shouldn’t be on the hot seat, but he may end up there. The Senators made great additions on offense by adding DeBrincat & Giroux, but their defense still isn’t good enough.

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