Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, center, talks with referee Mike Hasenfratz (2) during the first period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
- Just three weeks into the NHL season, Jeff Blashill and DJ Smith have emerged as strong co-favorites in the odds to be the next NHL coach fired
- Three disappointing seasons in Arizona have placed Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet squarely on the hot seat
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and analysis as NHL coaches battle to keep their jobs
The NHL season is less than three weeks old, but speculation has already started to swirl around the top candidates to be the next NHL head coach to lose his job. Two bench bosses whose respective teams are already on the verge of freefall top the list, with Detroit’s Jeff Blashill and Ottawa’s DJ Smith perched as +450 co-favorites. While lengthy early-season losing streaks have devastated their teams’ Stanley Cup odds, Blashill and Smith are far from the only NHL coaches that may soon have to worry about job security.
Here’s a look at what the near future may hold for Blashill and Smith, as well as other candidates who offer plenty of value in the odds to the next NHL head coach fired.
Odds to be the Next NHL Head Coach Fired
Odds as of Feb. 2
Help on the Way in Ottawa
What started out as a spectacular start to the season for DJ Smith and the Ottawa Senators has quickly become a nightmare. The Senators stunned the heavily favored Toronto Maple Leafs with an impressive 5-3 opening-night victory. But it has been all downhill since for Ottawa, which has fallen to defeat in eight subsequent contests while surrendering over five goals per game.
So the Senators are currently on an 8-game winless streak (0-7-1). The NHL’s official standings has them with a “L6” meaning the last six losses were in regulation. Their 4-3 OT loss to Winnipeg Jan. 19 is why the NHL doesn’t record it as an 8-game losing streak.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 1, 2021
Fortunately for Smith, patience remains the keyword in Ottawa. Indeed, it is tough to lay the blame for the Senators at Smith’s feet. Hired away from the rival Maple Leafs prior to last season, Smith owns solid coaching credentials, including a Memorial Cup victory with the OHL Ottawa Generals in 2015. And, with a stable of high-quality prospects expected to soon take jobs in Ottawa, Smith likely enjoys plenty of job security despite this season’s slow start.
Blashill Has Yzerman In His Corner, for Now
Blashill’s situation in the Motor City may not be so secure. Hired in the wake of Mike Babcock’s departure for Toronto six years ago, the Detroit native has failed to get the Red Wings into the postseason in each of the past four years. A steady depletion of talent has played a big role in Detroit’s fall from grace, but some recent dismal performances by the Red Wings have resulted in calls for Blashill to get the axe.
#RedWings GM Steve Yzerman gives Jeff Blashill a vote of confidence as head coach heading into next season.
It’s hard to place the blame on “Blash” given the extreme scarcity of talent in Detroit, who are currently in the early stages of a long and painful rebuild.#LGRW#NHL
— Dom Lunardo (@TapetoTape88) May 27, 2020
It’s tough to blame Blashill, particularly considering the team’s recent COVID-19 outbreak. And while the 47-year-old was not hired by Steve Yzerman, the Red Wings GM has reportedly made it clear to his coach that the team’s rebuild takes precedence over their win/loss record. Barring an uncharacteristic change of heart by Yzerman, that should provide Blashill with a job, at least until his contract expires at the end of this season.
Quinn, Tortorella Besieged by Off-Ice Drama
New York Rangers coach Dan Quinn is feeling the pressure and has climbed to a strong +700 bet to be the next coach fired. Considered early on to be one of the highest value bets to make the playoffs this season, the Rangers are currently buried in the East Division basement. And the recent off-ice drama involving bad boy defenseman Tony DeAngelo has done little to cement Quinn’s position on Broadway.
Per Portzline’s article today:
1) Jones and Werenski are willing to sign long-term extensions
2) Laine, if he agrees to an extension, will be a long-term deal at 10M+ AAV
3) Real possibility Tortorella isn’t extended
4) A goalie (Korpi or Elvis) will likely be traded#CBJ
— SpecmenceCBJ (@SpecmenceCBJ) February 1, 2021
Questions have also been raised as to how Columbus coach John Tortorella’s relationship with recently acquired sniper Patrick Laine may impact his job security. The Blue Jackets have laid an early claim to a playoff spot in the Central Division, but have thus far lost more games than they have won. The drama surrounding recently Pierre-Luc Dubois’ recent trade demand, and departure for Winnipeg, has not helped the prickly Blue Jackets coach, who lags at +3300.
2021 NHL Hart Trophy Odds Tracker
Tocchet on the Hot Seat in the Desert
However, the best value bet can be found closer to the top of the odds board. A long-awaited breakthrough by Arizona has not materialized during Rick Tocchet’s three-year tenure behind the Coyotes bench. Now faced with the formidable task of living up to the expectations of recently hired general manager Bill Armstrong, Tocchet is clearly on the bubble.
“I was a Rick Tocchet fan growing up. We have common friends (through Craig Berube). It’s important to foster a relationship with your Coach & I look forward to working with him.”
– #Yotes GM Bill Armstrong on Rick Tocchet. Mentions how he grew up a Flyers fan pic.twitter.com/RCAcp95sAY
— Kenny and Crash 🎤 (@KennyAndCrash) September 22, 2020
An attractive +1200 bet in the Jack Adams opening odds, Tocchet is running out of time to turn this around in the desert. With just three wins in eight outings, including a pair of shutout losses last week, the Coyotes have quickly tumbled to the bottom of the West Division standings, making Tocchet a solid +800 bet to be the next NHL coach to join the unemployment line.
The Pick: Rick Tocchet (+800)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.