Season Preview: A Quick Look at the Western Conference Coaches

Yesterday, I looked at the Eastern Conference coaches; today, I look at the bench bosses from the West.

A Grade

Mike Babcock – Detroit

Just the second coach in NHL history to coach Stanley Cup Game 7s for two different teams. He’s the only coach to have won Olympic Gold, a World Championship Gold and a Stanley Cup.

B+ Grade

Joel Quenneville – Chicago

He has never coached a losing season in the NHL, despite coaching for three different teams. The 2010 Cup win is the cherry on top for a career almost destroyed by physical exhaustion.

Barry Trotz – Nashville

Always gets the most out of his roster, and is quite player-friendly. Just the 10th head coach in NHL history to coach 750 games with a single team.

B Grade

Dave Tippett – Phoenix

While serving as an assistant coach, he was often described as the best powerplay mind in the league. His Dallas teams always seemed to underperform, but his work in Phoenix last year was incredible.

Randy Carlyle – Anaheim

Former Moose coach has won a Cup but his demanding style can grate on players (see Ryan Whitney).

B- Grade

Tom Renney – Edmonton

A strong teacher, communicator and infuriating line juggler, did great work with the Rangers but will be challenged with the Oilers.

Alain Vigneault – Vancouver

There’s no question A.V. has had a positive impact on player development. However, questions remain whether he is tactician-enough to get the Canucks far into the post-season.

C+ Grade

Terry Murray – Los Angeles (Fired watch)

Has always had success coaching skilled players, and yet his teams always seem to have issues between the pipes. Finds ways to get outcoached in the playoffs.

Joe Sacco – Colorado

The first successful coaching season of his professional career was last year with the young Avalanche. A strong communicator, it will be interesting to see what he does for an encore.

C Grade

Todd McLellan – San Jose (Fired watch)

Had coaching success at the junior and minor league levels, and ran a good power-play while serving as an assistant with Detroit. His time in San Jose though has been a disappointment.

Brent Sutter – Calgary

A junior hockey coaching legend, he’s entering Year 2 with a Flames team that under-achieved last year. Reviews about his first year in New Jersey were mixed as well, before the team gelled in their second year under the coach.

Davis Payne – St. Louis

A high energy guy earning a reputation for player preparation. The Blues offense came to life under his watch last year. Let’s see what a full season warrants.

Scott Arniel – Columbus

He has yet to coach an NHL game, although he did serve as an assistant in Buffalo. Four straight winning seasons with the Moose, and will try to instill a puck-possession style into the Blue Jackets approach.

C- Grade

Todd Richards – Minnesota (Fired watch)

Strong AHL coach with a good teaching reputation, but rumours of a rift between him and his assistant coaches persisted throughout the summer. He couldn’t get the Wild to play his up-tempo style last year.

Marc Crawford – Dallas (Fired Watch)

Hasn’t been to the post-season in four years and there are legitimate questions about his systems and ability to teach at the pro-level. That Cup win seems like it was a lifetime ago.

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