What have you done for me lately?
It’s a motto often tossed around in pro sports -- where player contracts are shredded unless guaranteed money overrides poor play, where teams can go from first to worst amid a league-wide aim for parity, and where, especially in the NHL, coaches are discarded in hopes of sparking in-season turnarounds.
It’s true that the NHL specializes in coaching changes outside of the off-season. And it’s been true for awhile.
Set aside the standard end-of-the-year dismissals, and hockey still reigns supreme over the major sports leagues, from the MLB to the infamous Black Monday-wielding NFL, when it comes to switching up the coaching staff during the regular season. Over the last decade, in fact, the NHL witnessed nearly 40 in-season firings, according to the Boston Globe, and that total jumped with oustings just this season.
The effectiveness of mid-year staff shakeups is another argument for another day, even if recent history books show that three of the last 10 Stanley Cup winners welcomed new coaches during their championship seasons.
But there’s no arguing that this particular method of coach management is a popular one in the NHL.
Here’s a look back at the last five years of in-season changes, including moves from the ongoing 2016-17 campaign:
Panthers replace Gerard Gallant with Tom Rowe
An 11-10-1 record landed Gallant on the chopping block in November, ending a tenure that began in 2014-15. Rowe, the Panthers’ general manager, has guided the club to a 26-20-10 record since.
Islanders replace Jack Capuano with Doug Weight
Running the Islanders since 2010-11, Capuano had New York squarely in the middle of the pack (17-17-8) when he was fired in January. Weight now has the team slowly but surely clawing its way into wild-card contention.
Blues replace Ken Hitchcock with Mike Yeo
This one was intriguing not only because Hitchcock led the Blues to the playoffs in every one of his seasons dating back to 2011, but because Yeo had already been deemed the replacement-in-waiting. The switch came early in February.
Bruins replace Claude Julien with Bruce Cassidy
A long-tenured winner like Hitchcock, Julien had been with Boston since 2007-08, giving him the longest stint with one organization at the time of his departure in February, when Cassidy took over after running the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. Whether he truly replaced stale leadership or not, Cassidy got Boston off to a 3-0 start.
Canadiens replace Michel Therrien with Claude Julien
A week after he was cut loose by Boston, Julien was called upon to replace Therrien in Montreal for the second time since the 2002-03 season. The Habs sat atop the Atlantic Division when Therrien was ousted, so Montreal tasked Julien with overcoming a slump and building off the 31-19-8 record he inherited.
Blue Jackets replace Todd Richards with John Tortorella
An 0-7 start doomed Richards, who had earned his title after serving as an interim for an earlier coaching change. Tortorella currently has the Blue Jackets sitting pretty near the top of the Eastern Conference.
Penguins replace Mike Johnston with Mike Sullivan
Like Tortorella, Sullivan has his team vying for a top playoff spot out of the Eastern Conference. Oh, and he won a Stanley Cup. He was working in the AHL when called upon to relieve Johnston, who had been with the Pens for little over one season.
Wild replace Mike Yeo with John Torchetti
Three playoff appearances weren’t enough to save Yeo from a 23-22-10 record through 55 games. Now an assistant for the Detroit Red Wings, Torchetti went 15-11-1 before being replaced by Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau.
Senators replace Paul MacLean with Dave Cameron
MacLean had the Senators at 11-11-5 before his December dismissal. Cameron, promoted from an assistant role, guided Ottawa to the playoffs, where the team lost in the first round. He was later replaced, having logged a 70-50-17 record as head coach.
Oilers replace Dallas Eakins with Todd Nelson
Eakins’ teams didn’t crack .500 over parts of two seasons. Nelson didn’t fare a whole lot better with a 17-25-9 mark at the helm of the staff before he was replaced by Todd McLellan.
Devils replace Peter DeBoer with Adam Oates and Scott Stevens
Axed the day after Christmas, DeBoer was swapped out for a head coaching duo. His track record, featuring a Stanley Cup Final bid, was never replicated by Oates and Stevens, who lasted as co-coaches only until June 1, 2015.
Maple Leafs replace Randy Carlyle with Peter Horachek
The year before his ousting, Carlyle took the Maple Leafs to their first postseason appearance since 2002-03. He had Toronto sitting OK at 21-16-3 when Horachek was brought in. Things got much worse after the move, as the team won only nine of its final 33 games under the interim coach.
Flyers replace Peter Laviolette with Craig Berube
Shown the door early after an 0-3 start in 2013-14, Laviolette had his big moments in Philly, where he led the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Final and earned fan support. Berube upped expectations with a 42-27-10 run in Year One but lasted less than two full seasons after the Flyers missed the playoffs in 2014-15.
Sabres replace Ron Rolston with Ted Nolan
A 4-15-1 start was enough to get Rolston canned a year after he had been another jettisoned coach’s fill-in. Nolan returned for a second stint in Buffalo after coaching the Sabres in the 1990s, earning a contract extension despite a shoddy record and, ultimately, getting fired after an allegedly poor relationship with management.
Panthers replace Kevin Dineen with Peter Horachek
A hot debut as Florida’s coach couldn’t save Dineen, who led the Panthers to a long-awaited playoff appearance but was cut after a slow start the following year. Horachek was named interim coach a year before he rose up the ranks in Toronto.
Jets replace Claude Noel with Paul Maurice
The first man in charge of the Jets upon their move from Atlanta to Winnipeg, Noel couldn’t sniff the playoffs before Maurice took over. The latter still holds the coaching title and has the Jets within reach of a wild-card spot.
Lightning replace Guy Boucher with Jon Cooper
A three-year downward spiral doomed Boucher, who once had the Lightning vying for a conference title and was swapped with Cooper in March 2013. Cooper is still in charge and progressively improved Tampa Bay, making a Stanley Cup Final in 2014-15. This season, however, the spark has been inconsistent.
Sabres replace Lindy Ruff with Ron Rolston
When Ruff was dismissed in February 2013, he wrapped up what was then the NHL’s longest tenure with one organization, a near-15-year run. Rolston went 19-26-6 in less than two full seasons before being succeeded by Nolan.