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The NHL coaching landscape, then and now

Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres is the NHL's longest-tenured coach, hired in July 1997. Nashville Predators Coach Barry Trotz was actually hired one month later, but the Preds' inaugural season was the following year.

The next longest-tenured coach entering 2011-12? It's a tie: Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings and Randy Carlyle of the Anaheim Ducks both have six seasons with their teams to their credit, despite the fact that Carlyle had been on the hot seat for at least half of that occupancy.

At the other end of the spectrum, there will be six new head coaches in the NHL this season.

Coming up, a look at the current NHL coaching landscape and how it compares with how the League's coaching ranks looked 10 years ago.

NHL 2011-12 season

(Keep in mind the tenure is for the seasons with one team leading up to this season.)

Team Coach Tenure (seasons) Team Coach Tenure (seasons)
Anaheim Ducks Randy Carlyle 6 Nashville Predators Barry Trotz 12
Boston Bruins Claude Julien 4 New Jersey Devils Peter DeBoer 0
Buffalo Sabres Lindy Ruff 13 New York Islanders Jack Capuano 1
Calgary Flames Brent Sutter 2 New York Rangers John Tortorella 2
Carolina Hurricanes Paul Maurice 3 Ottawa Senators Paul MacLean 0
Chicago Blackhawks Joel Quenneville 3 Philadelphia Flyers Peter Laviolette 2
Colorado Avalanche Joe Sacco 2 Phoenix Coyotes Dave Tippett 2
Columbus Blue Jackets Scott Arniel 1 Pittsburgh Penguins Dan Bylsma 3
Dallas Stars Glen Gulutzan 0 San Jose Sharks Todd McLellan 3
Detroit Red Wings Mike Babcock 6 St. Louis Blues Davis Payne 2
Edmonton Oilers Tom Renney 1 Tampa Bay Lightning Guy Boucher 1
Florida Panthers Kevin Dineen 0 Toronto Maple Leafs Ron Wilson 3
Los Angeles Kings Terry Murray 3 Vancouver Canucks Alain Vigneault 5
Minnesota Wild Mike Yeo 0 Washington Capitals Bruce Boudreau 4
Montreal Canadiens Jacques Martin 2 Winnipeg Jets Claude Noel 0

A few notes:

• The average tenure of an NHL coach is 2.86 years in 2011.

Six Seven active NHL coaches have won the Stanley Cup as a head coach.

• Taking out the Ruff and Trotz anomalies, as they've apparently made some "Damn Yankees"-esque bargain with Beelzebub to never be fired (or they're just really damn good), the mark of longevity in the NHL today would be the 5-year mark. Babcock, Carlyle and Vigneault are there; Julien and Boudreau reach it during this season.

• Six new coaches this season, and two of them have NHL-level head coaching experience. (DeBoer with the Panthers, Noel with that cup of coffee with the Blue Jackets.) Go back a year, and then trend continues, with Renney being the only veteran hire. Even the Devils went the newbie route with John MacLean. Whoops.

For comparison's sake and for [expletives] and grins, we decided to climb into the DeLorean and warp back a decade to survey the coaching landscape.

NHL 2001-02 season

Team Coach Tenure (seasons) Team Coach Tenure (seasons)
Anaheim Ducks Bryan Murray 0 Nashville Predators Barry Trotz 3
Boston Bruins Robbie Ftorek 0 New Jersey Devils Larry Robinson 2
Buffalo Sabres Lindy Ruff 4 New York Islanders Peter Laviolette 0
Calgary Flames Greg Gilbert 1 New York Rangers Ron Low 1
Carolina Hurricanes Paul Maurice 4 (6 total, including Hartford) Ottawa Senators Jacques Martin 6
Chicago Blackhawks Brian Sutter 0 Philadelphia Flyers Bill Barber 1
Colorado Avalanche Bob Hartley 3 Phoenix Coyotes Bobby Francis 3
Columbus Blue Jackets Dave King 1 Pittsburgh Penguins Ivan Hlinka 1
Dallas Stars Ken Hitchcock 9 San Jose Sharks Darryl Sutter 4
Detroit Red Wings Scotty Bowman 8 St. Louis Blues Joel Quenneville 5
Edmonton Oilers Craig MacTavish 1 Tampa Bay Lightning John Tortorella 1
Florida Panthers Duane Sutter 1 Toronto Maple Leafs Pat Quinn 3
Los Angeles Kings Andy Murray 2 Vancouver Canucks Marc Crawford 3
Minnesota Wild Jacques Lemaire 1 Washington Capitals Ron Wilson 4
Montreal Canadiens Michel Therrien 1 (Atlanta Thrashers) Curt Fraser 2

First off, keep in mind the last round of expansion was in 2000, so four of these teams were still in their relative infancy.

• Hence, the average tenure of an NHL coach in 2001-02 was lower than now: 2.5 years.

• Six NHL coaches in 2001-02 had won the Stanley Cup as a head coach prior to that season.

• Eight of the 30 are still NHL head coaches today, but many are still coaching 10 years later: Andy Murray and Bob Hartley overseas (Ed. Note: Murray's in the NCAA); Craig MacTavish down in the AHL. Still more are "waiting for the call" like Therrien and Hitchcock.

• Two of the three new coaches that season had prior NHL experience, Laviolette being the exception. Of the coaches that had just one year of experience, seven of 10 were in their first NHL coaching gigs. So it wasn't just a collection of retreads back then … it's just that their newbies became our retreads.

Can't wait for 10 years from now when Mike Yeo's name comes up for a gig and the fans' immediate reaction is, "That guy again?!"

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