FanPost

Rebuttal: Why John MacLean's Failure Should Indeed Dictate a Non-Rookie Coach


David Fine presented an argument why hiring a rookie coach would not have to be a bad thing in this post. I commented that while his list of 30 or so coaches that completed their first year as an NHL coach, I wondered here whether or not that list was smaller or larger than coaches that didn't survive their first season, (or ever coach more than one.) So I did some checking on hockey-reference.com's coaching data to see how long the list was. Details after the jump.

Firstly, hockey-reference's full list of NHL coaches can be found here. It can be sorted by any of the columns. I sorted by years coached, from least to most and copied the list of those who only have one season coached, coached at least 30 games, since MacLean coached 33, I felt that 30 was a fair cut-off for comparison, and deleted the coaches whose first season was 2010-2011 and were still coaching at the end of the season (Jack Capuano, Scott Arniel, and Guy Boucher). Finally, I excluded any remaining coach with a .500 points percentage or better. What I was left with was 36 coaches that fit the criteria.

One interesting fact about MacLean before I present the list. MacLean had the lowest points percentage (.303, 15th worst overall) of any coach since Brad Park's .222 in 1986. Things could have been worse!!

Here is the entire list of one-year coaches who coached at least 30 games to a sub-.500 record, not including coaches who completed 2010-11 behind the bench.

 

Rk  Coach  From  To  Yrs ?  GP  OL  PTS  PTS% 
1 Jim Anderson  1975 1975 1 54 4 45 5
13 0.120
2 Cooper Smeaton  1931 1931 1 44 4 36 4
12 0.136
3 Larry Wilson  1977 1977 1 36 3 29 4
10 0.139
4 Frank Fredrickson*  1930 1930 1 44 5 36 3
13 0.148
5 Eddie Bush  1976 1976 1 32 1 23 8
10 0.156
6 Phil Goyette  1973 1973 1 48 6 38 4
16 0.167
7 Herb Gardiner*  1929 1929 1 32 5 23 4
14 0.219
8 Brad Park*  1986 1986 1 45 9 34 2
20 0.222
9 Earl Ingarfield  1973 1973 1 30 6 22 2
14 0.233
10 Andre Beaulieu  1978 1978 1 32 6 23 3
15 0.234
11 Pit Lepine  1940 1940 1 48 10 33 5
25 0.260
12 Aldo Guidolin  1979 1979 1 59 12 39 8
32 0.271
13 Larry Kish  1983 1983 1 49 12 32 5
29 0.296
14 Bert Olmstead*  1968 1968 1 64 11 37 16
38 0.297
15 John MacLean  2011 2011 1 33 9 22
2 20 0.303
16 Frank Eddolls  1955 1955 1 70 13 40 17
43 0.307
17 Shorty Green*  1928 1928 1 44 11 27 6
28 0.318
18 Jim Wiley  1996 1996 1 57 17 37 3
37 0.325
19 Dirk Graham  1999 1999 1 59 16 35 8
40 0.339
20 Sylvio Mantha*  1936 1936 1 48 11 26 11
33 0.344
21 Ned Harkness  1971 1971 1 38 12 22 4
28 0.368
22 Lionel Conacher*  1930 1930 1 44 14 25 5
33 0.375
23 Al Sims  1997 1997 1 82 27 47 8
62 0.378
24 George Burnett  1995 1995 1 35 12 20 3
27 0.386
25 Bill Stewart  1999 1999 1 37 11 19 7
29 0.392
26 Pierre McGuire  1994 1994 1 67 23 37 7
53 0.396
27 George Armstrong*  1989 1989 1 47 17 26 4
38 0.404
28 Rosie Helmer  1936 1936 1 48 16 25 7
39 0.406
29 Howie Meeker  1957 1957 1 70 21 34 15
57 0.407
30 Bill White  1977 1977 1 46 16 24 6
38 0.413
31 Ron Smith  1993 1993 1 44 15 22 7
37 0.420
32 Alpo Suhonen  2001 2001 1 82 29 41 8 4 70 0.427
33 Bryan Trottier*  2003 2003 1 54 21 26 6 1 49 0.454
34 Doug Harvey*  1962 1962 1 70 26 32 12
64 0.457
35 Pete Muldoon  1927 1927 1 44 19 22 3
41 0.466
36 Sprague Cleghorn*  1932 1932 1 48 19 22 7
45 0.469

 

So approximately 6, if I counted correctly, of David's list of 30, had a sub-.500 record, outside of this past season. That makes the count 24 "successful", and 42 "unsuccessful." Not a 15 to 1 ratio, as I indicated would discount his list as being sufficient to ascribe success, but still, 1 3/4 times the number of successful rookie coaches were unsuccessful for at least 30 games. The entire list of one-year coaches with a sub-.500 record contains 63 names. 8 of those coached less than 10 games. So 55 on hockey-reference's list, 9 from David's list (if we include the 3 that are still employed) and we have 64 instances of an NHL head coach in either his first year or his only year, having a sub-.500 record, compared to 21 from David's list and an additional 20 from hockey reference at .500 or better, and the final count is 41-64

My conclusion: A rookie coach, historically, has a roughly 3:2 chance of having a sub-.500 record for his first coaching season in the NHL. With the Devils having missed the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, a 60% chance of being sub-.500 with a rookie coach again, in my opinion, is too high a risk.

All FanPosts and FanShots are the respective work of the author and not representative of the writers or other users of In Lou We Trust.

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