Why Fire Your Coach? Because New Coaches Win the Most

By Goose · Nov 21, 2019 · Updated Nov 22, 2019
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  1. Goose

    Goose Registered User

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    Thinking about the high turnover in NHL head coaches (leading all professional sports leagues), I did a bit of a back-of-the-napkin math on NHL head coaches and their tenure with a given team who made the Stanley cup Finals over the past 30 years, and here's the breakdown:

    Note that this represents how many years the coach has been with that specific team, not overall experience. So Pat Burns, for example, made the SCF in his 1st year coaching the Canadiens (lost) and won the SCF his 1st year with the Devils.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I don't have easy raw data on average NHL tenure per calendar year to compare against the mean, but it's pretty amazing how many first year coaches with a team have made the SCF and how few long tenured coaches have won. The breakdown for winning and making the SCF as a first year coach are the same, by the way, (12/12).

    I'm a believer in the whole "shaking up the culture" argument, especially looking at STL last year, and the data seems to back it up. The only problem is, I don't have raw data on average coaching tenure to compare deviation, and that's too much work, but I thought I'd see what people think. Do the numbers look like this simply because there is a lot of turnover in the NHL, or is there a lot of turnover because it works?

    For comparison, only 3 NFL head coaches have won a Super Bowl in their first year of coaching a team over the past 30 years, compared with the NHL's 12. I think it's 7 for MLB, then 4 for the NBA.
     
  2. MikeK

    MikeK Registered User

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    Because the coach is the only option for most teams nowadays. It's hard making player changes when most impactful players make so much money today and when you throw in a cap it's almost impossible to make any sort of meaningful trades mid-season. The coach will always be the first to go because he's the cheapest and quickest fix.
     
  3. Doctor No

    Doctor No Registered User

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    It would be useful to see what proportion of coaches overall are in their first year with a team, second year with a team, et cetera...

    For instance, it's interesting that 24/60 of SC Finalists are first-year coached, but would be less interesting if (hypothetically) 90% of teams have a first-year coach (exaggerating for effect).
     
  4. Goose

    Goose Registered User

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    Yeah for sure, that’s what I was referring to not having the mean data. Would take way too long to do that by hand and I don’t have a quick way to aggregate.

    Still pretty amazing the difference between NHL/NFL.
     
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  5. JianYang

    JianYang Registered User

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    It's the life of an nhl coach. It doesn't take long for things to get bad, and it happens to virtually every coach.

    It's not uncommon to see an immediate improvement after a change, but all that does is perpetuate the cycle, because the new guy's time will turn sour soon enough.
     
  6. MrFunnyWobbl

    MrFunnyWobbl GOAT

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    Coaches that can't adapt to maximize the talents of their players and deploy them correctly should go.

    Different sport, but look at how John Harbaugh has rebuilt the Ravens entire offense around Lamar Jackson, a QB who many teams thought couldn't cut it in the position, and it is paying dividends. So many lesser coaches would be using him poorly. Same applies in the NHL, and moreso european soccer.
     
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  7. LeHab

    LeHab Registered User

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  8. Goose

    Goose Registered User

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  9. valet

    valet obviously adhd

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    it's moments like these where i wish i had the attention span and focus to really dig in to an article like that, but i just don't got it.... :(
     
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  10. Luigi Lemieux

    Luigi Lemieux Registered User

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    In recent memory a team that fired its coach mid-season won the cup 4 times in the past 10 years.

    2009 - Pittsburgh - Therrien to Bylsma
    2012 - LA - Stevens to Sutter
    2016 - Pittsburgh - Johnston to Sullivan
    2019 - St Louis - Yeo to Berube

    A good team that's not living up to expectations can definitely get a huge boost from firing the coach.
     
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  11. adsfan

    adsfan Registered User

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    Babcock is an egomaniac.

    Lavy seems to be wearing out his welcome in Nashville. Losing 8 of the last 9 games is shocking with the talent the Preds have.

    If you fire a coach, you need to find somebody better, or maybe somebody as good but different in methods.
     
  12. abo9

    abo9 Registered User

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    Are you suggesting the Maple Leafs will win the Cup? :sarcasm: My bold prediction is that Keefe will be seen as a great coach by the end of the year, and win the Jack Adams trophy

    I'm surprised because I would have thought that 2nd year coaches had more success!
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
  13. rubous

    rubous 91 34 16 11 44

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    who is this?
     
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  14. SillyRabbit

    SillyRabbit Trix Are For Kids

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    I remember reading a statistic a couple years ago that no coach has ever won a Cup for a team he’s coaching if he didn’t already win one in his first four seasons.

    So basically you either have early success or you never will.

    So if that’s true, the coaches who won Cups 5+ years after coaching the same team had already won one with that same team in the first four years.
     
  15. LatvianTwist

    LatvianTwist Global Moderator Sponsor

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    Glen Sather invalidates this. Took him 8 years to win a Cup with Edmonton. Al Arbour too, took him 7 years.

    Probably more historically, but I'm too lazy to keep looking.

    Recently, it does hold though.
     
  16. SillyRabbit

    SillyRabbit Trix Are For Kids

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    Yeah there might've been a qualifier such as "in the past 30 years" or something like that.
     
  17. Machinehead

    Machinehead Adam Fox Stan

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    By the same logic you should trade any player who turns 22 because young players score more.

    At some point, there's value in stability also.
     
  18. tucson83

    tucson83 Registered User

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    i think it's combination of alot of things, results, figuring out your scheme, etc, new coaches that come in have new ideas and the rest of the coaches cant figure it out and they win that way. in my opinion, i think coaches are kept too long get figured out and lose more games, that's why new coaches should get smaller windows because they eventually get figured out and lose more games.
     
  19. Jill Sandwich

    Jill Sandwich Master of Unlocking

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    I think a big thing is how players respond. I think it's a lot like relationships, you work a little harder when you know you're starting at 0 with a new person. I bet players are putting more effort into the small things they know are right rather than trying to follow someone's plan and fearing reprisal.

    Edmonton won in their 5th year in the league..?
     
  20. Tom Polakis

    Tom Polakis Eternal Optimist

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    It was easy to do this for the current point in time using the Wikipedia list of coaches and some spreadsheet work. I don't know how you'd go about doing this for other seasons. You'd want a snapshot of coaches and their tenure in April of each year. Anyway, here's the current breakdown.

    1st season: 8 coaches (26 percent)
    2nd: 8 coaches (26 percent)
    3rd/4th: 8 coaches (26 percent)
    5th+: 7 coaches (22 percent)

    So if the numbers for this season is typical, the coaches with shorter tenure who appeared in Cup finals is high, but not exceedingly so.

    Nice work by the OP!

    [​IMG]
     
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  21. InfinityIggy

    InfinityIggy Zagidulin's Dad

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    Well as a Flames fan, this is certainly a nice silver lining to this day.
     
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  22. Kamiccolo

    Kamiccolo Hockey is back

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    See you in the finals.
     
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