We did the GMs, so let’s do the coaches. Just to remind those of you who are on the newish side, we’ve basically boiled down all coaches and GMs in the league into a binary system: Moron or Not A Moron. Given how weird hockey is, how much is down to pure, dumb, idiot luck, and how backward the thinking everywhere is, it’s downright impossible to rank them in any other way. At least that’s our opinion. So let’s get to it:
Joel Quenneville (CHI) – Not A Moron
This might come as a surprise to people given we’ve been the loudest bullhorn decrying the latest inexplicable decision he makes about his lineup. There is no perfect coach. But the resume is the resume, and while the game has changed even in the past couple years, the ways it’s changed are just extensions of what Q’s philosophy has been here in Chicago. Stop the play against you before it gets in your zone, get the puck up the other way as quickly as possible, get your d-man in behind it easier by forcing quick turnovers and forcing the play up the ice. These were things the Hawks did better than anyone to terrorize the league for five or six years. Yes, his lineup choices can be weird. Yes, he’s ignored good players just because of a hunch and played bad ones for the same reason. But the overall theory and implementation of how the Hawks should play has really never been in question.
Jared Bednar (COL) – Not A Moron
Hard to be in this category after one of the worst seasons the NHL has ever seen with the Avalanche in ’16-’17. But seeing as how he was given nothing, he can’t really take much of the blame. This turnaround last year is probably enough to give him this label, and the Avs do play an up-tempo, let’s-give-it-to-MacKinnon-and-move policy which is enough.
Jim Montgomery (DAL) – INC
We don’t know, but I will say his record at Denver would suggest he’s going to be Not A Moron. Also, I’m a fan of more teams moving into the college ranks to get coaches, instead of recycling the same 35 morons every year. Hakstol in Philly might be an idiot, but at least it’s different. And everyone in Dallas will just be happy it’s not Hitchcock, which is still a hiring that convinces me there’s a higher power because who else comes up with that joke?
Bruce Boudreau (MIN) – Moron
This will garner some chortles and protests, mostly from Ryan Lambert. Boudreau’s regular season really is uncanny and if hockey were inclined to weight regular season accomplishments more (and it probably should) he’d be a Hall of Famer. But hockey doesn’t. And a portion, maybe a good portion, of Boudreau’s success is simply pushing his team much harder in February and March when every other team has stopped caring and is waiting for the playoffs or the golf course. He’s Hockey Thibodeau in that way, though he does it through offense instead of Thibs’s heavy defense-first ways. But that leaves his team gassed and out of answers come playoff time, and one conference final appearance, where he blew yet another 3-2 lead at home in Game 7, is a record of a moron. Especially with some of the teams he’s had. His teams always have the mental stability of a Science Olympiad balsa wood bridge built by a student in detention. They fall apart with a stiff breeze. When Boudreau wins any trophy that actually matters, come talk to me. Until then, bite my bag.
Peter Laviolette (NSH) – Not A Moron
Though this is probably the season that the Preds tune out Lavvy, because it always happens to him wherever he goes, Lavvy gets the most out of what he has. His teams are always fun and fast, and though he can be red-assed and transfer that to his team they’re usually doing that at the top of a division. This Preds team will be a disappointment if it doesn’t come up with a parade in the next year or two, but that’s not enough to deem Lavvy a Moron.
Mike Yeo (STL) – Not A Moron But Only Barely
A lot of the esteem we have for our fellow cueball comes from the 2nd round in ’14, when Mike Yeo threw the kitchen sink at the Hawks with his outgunned Wild team. He trapped at times, he pushed full bore at times, and everything in between, sometimes period to period. The result was a far tougher six-game series for the Hawks than that Wild team should have ever mustered. But since then he’s seen the Wild tune him out, fire him, hire Gabby, and produce better regular season results than he ever did. He Brutus’d Ken Hitchcock’s Caesar in St. Louis but he hasn’t been able to get the Blues to stop Blues-ing. Missing the playoffs and keeping his job with that team is a neat trick though, and there’s only so much you can get out of Jay Gallon.
Randy Carlyle (ANA) – MORON
He couldn’t make toast.
Rick Tocchet (AZ) – Moron
And Tocchet will give you 3-1 that Carlyle would fuck up the toast again.
Bill Peters (CGY) – Probably A Moron
Which is weird to say, because at times we’ve wondered if Stan Bowman ever dreamed of replacing Q with Peters. His Canes teams always were among the best possession teams in the league, so he must do something right. And yet they never came close to the playoffs, and now a gaggle of goalies have seen their careers turn into pulp in Raleigh so there must be something to the system he plays that does that as well. Until he actually sniffs the playoffs, he has to be a Moron. And Mike Smith is probably not going to get him into sniffing range.
Todd McLellan (EDM) – Not A Moron but barely
All of the blame can’t go to Peter Chiarelli for taking a team with clearly the best player on the planet and throwing it into the meat grinder. McLellan’s offensive system is pretty basic, and players get bored of it quickly. Yes, he’s got a roster that’s as seemly as a work by Picasso when he was on peyote, but the Oilers should play faster than they do. There’s only so much he could do with this, though.
John Stevens (LA) – Moron
I mean, does it matter? He’s slightly more exciting than Darryl Sutter I guess, but the Kings were still mind-numbingly boring and were fish guts for the Knights in the playoffs when the Kings tried to win every game 0-0. That’s the roster he has of course, which isn’t his fault. Also, the Flyers were mostly garbage when he was there, and then Laviolette took the same team much farther.
Travis Green (VAN) – Who Knows And Who Cares?
Honestly, do you ever think about this team any more? Did you know they still exist? It’s impossible to know anything about Travis Green, who couldn’t have a more generic name, considering the cat puke his GM keeps handing him. Buy this man a drink…and get his dog one too!
Gerard Gallant (VGK) – Not A Moron
He’s not a genius, as all he did with the Knights was copy what the Penguins had done the previous two years. But hey, few others did and look what happened. If you’re smart enough to be ahead of an admittedly moronic and wayward pack, that makes you Not A Moron. His Panthers teams were fine, too. The Knights are going to have a regression, probably a big one, but he wasn’t the one who handed Fleury that contract. Players seem to improve under him. That’s enough.