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.
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.