NHL House Cleaning: Kyle Dubas Out in Toronto
The NHL regular season has come to a close. Which means it’s clean-up time. Empty the lockers, talk to the local media one more time, and head to the golf course/beach/lake house.
It’s also time for organizations to start making decisions on the futures of people other than players. Like every other major sport, the day after the regular season ends is when axes start falling. And the NHL is no different.
I’ll update this as more jobs are lost, but there have been some significant decisions made already.
Big Changes in Toronto
It’s been a couple weeks since we had a job opening created in the NHL, but it appears the Maple Leafs are in the market for a new general manager. With Kyle Dubas reportedly out, whomever takes over in Toronto will have to make some huge decisions — starting with extensions for one/both/neither of Auston Matthews and William Nylander, who are both entering the final seasons of their respective contracts.
Gallant Out in NYC
Despite a good regular season, it’s the playoffs that matter at Madison Square Garden. And the New York Rangers, who went all-in at the trade deadline this year with a couple major moves, didn’t get past the first round. So head coach Gerard Gallant doesn’t get to come back for a third season as head coach.
Flames Douse Sutter
On Monday morning, the Calgary Flames — who have already moved on from GM Brad Treliving — have reportedly fired head coach Darryl Sutter. And they’re doing it before the contract extension he signed after winning the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach last year kicks in.
Washington Moves On From Two Assistants
After agreeing to part ways with/not offer an extension to Peter Laviolette, the Washington Capitals also moved on from two assistant coaches on Monday. They are retaining assistant coach Scott Allen, goaltending coach Scott Murray, assistant coach/video Brett Leonhardt and video coordinator Emily Engel-Natzke, however. But that’s three important roles to fill in Washington after a disappointing year.
Flames Searching For New GM
The Calgary Flames were a massive disappointment this year, though many people thought GM Brad Treliving made the best of a bad situation last summer. Johnny Gaudreau walked as a free agent, reportedly turning down a blockbuster offer from Calgary. And then Matthew Tkachuk asked for a trade and was moved to Florida. Treliving replaced them with Jonathan Huberbeau and Mackenzie Weeger in the Tkachuk trade with the Panthers and signed Nazem Kadri, who was a playoff hero for the Stanley Cup champion Avs. But no playoffs means no more job for the GM. His contract was up already, so they’re just choosing to move on. Is Darryl Sutter next?
Columbus Coach Canned
On Saturday morning, with their season now complete, the Columbus Blue Jackets fired head coach Brad Larsen. They also announced goaltending coach Manny Legace won’t be back. It was a massively underwhelming season for the Blue Jackets, who thought they were taking a step forward when they somehow won the Johnny Gaudreau bidding last summer. They finished the season with only the Anaheim Ducks below them in the standings.
New Caps Coach Needed
The Washington Capitals announced on Friday that Peter Laviolette will not return as their head coach. His contract expires at the end of the league year (June 30), so he isn’t getting fired… just not being brought back.
Pittsburgh Punts Front Office
For the first time in nearly two decades, the Pittsburgh Penguins will not play in the postseason. Which means someone wasn’t going to keep their job. In this case, the entire top of the front office got run. President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke, General Manager Ron Hextall and Assistant General Manager Chris Pryor all got pink slips on Friday morning.
According to the team’s release, “During this transition, the managerial duties of hockey operations will be shared among current Director of Hockey Operations, Alec Schall, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton General Manager/Manager of Hockey Operations, Erik Heasley and Hockey Operations Analyst, Andy Saucier. Head Coach Mike Sullivan will also assist during the transition.” So apparently Sullivan is safe — for now.
Anaheim Fires Head Coach Dallas Eakins
When a team finishes with the worst record in the league, usually there are changes. There are exceptions to that — Chicago is here because it’s an intentional start of a rebuild — but in Anaheim, where they have some exciting young players, this wasn’t supposed to be a terrible season. So it isn’t much of a surprise that the Ducks fired head coach Dallas Eakins on Friday morning.
Eakins has been a really good AHL coach and a lot of players like him as a person. But… it just didn’t work in the NHL in Anaheim. So there will be change there. And, for those who like to slide into the comments here and on social media about wishing the Blackhawks had waited a year to hire Luke Richardson — why run the risk of a wider pool of teams looking for a head coach and one of them (in this case the Ducks) possibly having Connor Bedard to entice coaching candidates? The Blackhawks got it right last summer. Be happy about that.
Blues Move On From MacTavish, Van Ryn
The Blues missed the playoffs, sold at the deadline and now they’re pointing the finger at a couple assistant coaches. Craig MacTavish and Mike Van Ryn were let go on Friday morning, opening the door for a couple new assistants in St. Louis. The Blues are retaining assistant coach Steve Ott and goaltending coach David Alexander.