Most Surprising NHL Coach Dismissals

The Boston Bruins relieved Bruce Cassidy of his duties as the team’s head coach on June 6. Cassidy, a former head coach of the Washington Capitals, was promoted to Boston’s head coach in 2016-17 and compiled a 245-108-46 record behind the bench. 

Boston lost in the first round of the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. While that wasn’t a major shock for the best online casino and sportsbooks (the team wasn’t favored against the Carolina Hurricanes), it was somewhat surprising that the loss resulted in Cassidy’s dismissal. 

Boston kept pace with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2021-22 regular season and did so without its longtime goaltender Tuukka Rask. It also had several substantial injuries.

Yet, Cassidy’s Bruins won 51 games (the most during his tenure as head coach) and recorded 107 points. The Bruins even took the Hurricanes to Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs.

Cassidy’s firing, while surprising, is far from one of the most shocking in league history. These coaches, however, were fired incredibly quickly or under strange circumstances.

Gerard Gallant

Gerard Gallant’s firing from the Florida Panthers is still one of the strangest firings. Gallant, now coaching the New York Rangers, was fired during the middle of the 2016-17 season with the Panthers hovering around the .500 mark.

In the two seasons prior, Gallant led the Panthers to 91- and 103-point seasons and was a Jack Adams Award finalist as Coach of the Year in the latter year. He was fired only 22 games into the 2016-17 season, at which point Florida had a record of 11-10-1. 

Longtime Hockey Night in Canada co-host Don Cherry called the decision “the worst firing in [the NHL] history.” A picture of Gallant waiting for a cab after being fired (he was dismissed immediately after a game) later emerged online. It was an incredibly bad look for the Panthers organization.

Peter Laviolette

Peter Laviolette barely even had a chance to get his feet wet with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2013-14 season. The veteran coach was fired after an 0-3 start to the season, marking the quickest firing since the 1969-70 season. 

Paul Holmgren, general manager of the Flyers at the time, said he felt Laviolette deserved one last chance during the prior off-season but quickly decided three games was enough of a chance. 

Flyers chairman Ed Snider later shared that the team had “one of the worst training camps” he had ever seen before the 2013-14 season. He added, “there was nothing exciting” and “nobody looked good.” 

The move actually paid off. Craig Berube replaced Laviolette and led the Flyers to a 94-point season before a first-round playoff exit to the New York Rangers.

Denis Savard

Denis Savard got one more game than Laviolette did. The Chicago Blackhawks legend stepped behind the team’s bench for the 2006-07 season and led the team to two abysmal seasons in which they missed the playoffs and extended their playoff drought to 10 seasons.

Chicago started the 2008-09 season 1-2-1 under Savard, and management apparently felt that was enough. Joel Quenneville replaced Savard and led the team to three Stanley Cups. 

Jacques Demers

Jacques Demers was understandably on the hot seat entering the 1995-96 NHL season. The Montreal Canadiens missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 years the season prior and had dealt away star players like John LeClair and Kirk Muller.

The Canadiens lost its first four games to start the season, and Demers lost his job as a result. The team went 12-2 after the firing but struggled later in the season. Their 11-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in December resulted in Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy requesting a trade.

Ralph Krueger

Ralph Krueger doesn’t have much of a resume in the NHL but has a great record coaching in Europe. The Edmonton Oilers thought he was the man to lead the team in 2012-13, but Krueger was strangely fired following the lockout-shortened season.

The worst part? Krueger was fired via Skype by general manager Craig MacTavish. 

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