With 75% of the regular season completed, it’s common for watercooler talk to turn to ‘who’s gonna win some awards?’. Here at 4th Line Towers, we’re no different, but rather than look at the awards that already exist, why not focus on awards that should exist. Today we’re looking at the Why Haven’t You Been Fired Yet award. The contenders are Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and head coach Claude Julien and LA Kings head coach Todd McLellan.
Should he be fired? Julien returned to coach Montreal in February 2017 to replace the fired Michel Therrien, and inherited a reasonably strong team. Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov were playing well up front, while Carey Price was a brick wall in front of the net. Unfortunately that didn’t last, and instead of building on Therrien’s mediocre success, the Habs missed the 2017-18 playoffs and haven’t been back since. The team is leaking goals and has to leap frog a fair few teams if they want to grab a wild card place.
Julien inherited a good team, but there were also a lot of changes personnel changes in the 2016-17 season. Nearly a third of the skaters who dressed for Montreal either started or finished that season with another team. There’s a lot of inconsistency in both the Habs’ dressing room and front office. But let’s be honest, how much of that is Julien’s fault?
It’s pretty rare for a head coach to be fired after one season, but McLellan is on the hot seat. The LA Kings are really, really bad this season. When McLellan joined the Kings in April last year, the team was in bad place, having finished dead last in the Western Conference. Unfortunately nothing has improved, the Kings are averaging fewer points per game than last season. If McLellan was brought in to stem the bleed, it hasn’t worked.
The Kings are a team that need to chill out, they’re shooting the puck more than most other teams, but they’re also scoring the fewest goals (aside from Detroit). Goaltending sucks, special teams suck, and the scoring is inconsistent. When the team is full strength, they’re better than their 30th place in the league shows, but games aren’t always five-on-five and that area needs to be sorted.
What’s to be said about the Red Wings that hasn’t been said before? Yes it’s a rebuild. Yes you’ve got to believe in the Yzerplan. But how much is that deflecting away from Blashill’s ability to coach at the NHL level? The only discussion about the key players is how much they’d fetch as trade bait, but the team is a capable of achieving more than it is. Just ask any Boston Bruins fan.
The Red Wings sit at 32 points in 60 games (14-42-4). They need 16 in their final 22 games to match the Avs total (48) from 2016-17 (22-56-4) the lowest in the cap era. Will Detroit catch their formal rival, or set a futility record? #LGRW #RedWings #HockeyTwitter #hockey #NHL
— Brodie Cotnam (@BRC14) February 16, 2020
Says it all really.
We’ve already looked at whether or not Claude Julien should be fired, but how much of the Habs’ current woes sit with the GM? Since 2012 Bergevin has orchestrated trading away P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty, but also bringing in Jonathan Drouin and, erm, Andrew Shaw.
The Habs under Bergevin have been a competitive team, but not recently. With a 3rd consecutive playoff-free offseason looking likely, and having lost every game against the Detroit Red Wings, the worst team in the league, his dismissal has to be on the cards if there’s no improvement by the end of the season.
We asked you who you though was most deserving of our new award:
— The 4th Line Hockey Podcast (@4thLinePodcast) January 25, 2020
Did we miss anyone off our shortlist? Who else do you think has outstayed their welcome. Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter!