The National Hockey League’s Northwest Division has one new head coach.
The other four are entering at least their third season with their current teams, those four coaches total four Jack Adams nominations in a combined 17 full seasons as NHL head coaches.
Here are my rankings of the five head coaches in the Northwest Division.
No. 5 – Mike Yeo, Minnesota Wild. The lack of experience was hard to get past with Yeo. He is entering his first season as an NHL head coach. He is an up-and-comer who is widely considered a future coaching star inthe NHL. He led the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, the Wild’s top affiliate, to the Calder Cup finals after posting the second best record in its conference and division.
No. 4 – Tom Renney, Edmonton Oilers. Renney is the second most experienced coach in the division, but mostly with the New York Rangers. Last season was his first at the helm of the Oilers and it did not go well it post the league’s fewest points. Despite last season’s disappointment, he still has amassed a 228-215-9-58 record. He has three playoff appearances, all with the Rangers in his first three full seasons in that position.
No. 3 – Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche. Sacco is entering his third season as a head coach. He burst on the scene by leading the Avalanche to the biggest turnaround from one season to the next since the league expanded to 30 teams in 2000. The Avalanche made the playoffs and Sacco was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the league’s best coach. Then in year two, things were dramatically worse as the Avalanche posted the second lowest point total in the league. His teams have been offensively gifted and defensively inept. He has a 73-74-0-17 career record.
No. 2 – Brent Sutter, Calgary Flames. Sutter is entering his third season with the Flames. In each of the past two seasons, the Flames have just missed the playoffs. Before joining the Flames, he coached the New Jersey Devils to the playoffs in each of his two seasons with the team, including one division championship. He has a 178-117-0-33 career record.
No. 1 – Alain Vigneault, Vancouver Canucks. Vigneault is the most experienced and most decorated coach in the division. He has five playoff appearances, four division championships, one conference championship, one Jack Adams award and three Jack Adams nominations. He has a 345-251-35-45 career record. The Canucks figure to challenge for the President’s Trophy and Stanley Cup again this season.