A coach is getting fired in November.*
NHL teams understand that patience is important until a bad four-week stretch befalls them at the start of the season, then it’s time to ask their coach to pack their desks and give their access cards to security. The first coach to be fired is usually kicked to the street in November and sometimes sooner.
Over the past five seasons, the first NHL coaches were fired on Oct. 21, Dec. 8, Oct. 7, Nov. 6 and, in the 2013 lockout season, the Sabres fired Lindy Ruff in February after 17 games, which just about aligns that move with November during a normal 82-game season.
It’s Nov. 3. We’re due.
Who are the coaches likely to have an uncomfortable exit interview with someone in human resources over the next four weeks? It’s great that you asked because that’s what we’re going to discuss in the space that follows.
1. John Tortorella, Columbus Blue Jackets
Team record: 4-3-1
Preseason odds of getting fired: There was always a chance, but considering they just hired him last season and everyone in the front office just received contract extensions, Tortorella needed to embarrass himself worse than he did during the World Cup, which was nearly impossible. But an 0-6-1 start could have doomed Tortorella.
Odds of getting fired this month: Things would really have to go sideways. The Blue Jackets are off to a decent start, so it would probably take a five-game losing streak and one of his players taking a knee during the national anthem, which causes Tortorella to stumble onto the ice and commit assault. So it’s possible, but a longshot.
2. Bill Peters, Carolina Hurricanes
Team record: 2-4-3
Preseason odds of getting fired: He wasn’t on many lists before the season. The Hurricanes added Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell, made some value signings with Viktor Stalberg and Lee Stempniak and were coming off a 2015-16 season that gave you the belief good things could be coming.
Odds of getting fired this month: If Peters does get fired, he should sue Ron Francis for sticking him with Cam Ward for another season. Carolina is sitting at 52 percent in score-adjusted Fenwick, a sign that Peters’ system is working. The Hurricanes are dead-last in the East but it has very little, if anything, to do with the coach.
3. Paul Maurice, Winnipeg Jets
Team record: 4-6-0
Preseason odds of getting fired: They were pretty good. The Jets took a step back last season after reaching the playoffs in 2014, but added Patrik Laine after winning the draft lottery. There was a reason for expectations to be high and a disappointing start could sink Maurice.
Odds of getting fired this month: A poor start after a season of regression with higher expectations makes the odds pretty good. The Jets are getting beaten like a drum at 5-on-5 — they are 28th in score-adjusted Fenwick at 46.9 percent — and they’re in a spot where a four-game losing streak could end their playoff hopes. Jets fans were happy to have hockey back, but they’re not going to endure much more losing.
4. Jack Capuano, New York Islanders
Team record: 4-6-0
Preseason odds of getting fired: He had the third-best odds with most sportsbooks and after reaching the second round of the playoffs, any sort of slow start had a chance of dooming him. The Islanders also entered the season with a dangerous mix of increased expectations and a weaker roster, a combination that can doom any coach.
Odds of getting fired this month: They should be real good, but this is the Islanders, who have little to no interest in spending money on a new coach. The Islanders have always seemed like underachievers under Capuano and when fans start chanting that you should be fired, that’s a bad sign. The next two weeks could decide his fate.
5. Willie Desjardins, Vancouver Canucks
Team record: 4-5-1
Preseason odds of getting fired: Very good. The Canucks spent the offseason thinking they were a couple tweaks from being a playoff team when in reality, they were the poster boys for a teardown. But they paid big bucks for Loui Eriksson and traded a prospect for Erik Gudbranson, showing that they had unrealistic expectations.
Odds of getting fired this month: It’s getting to be a foregone conclusion. The Canucks started 4-0-0 despite not playing very well, which managed to somehow raise expectations even more. Now the Canucks have lost six in a row and more losses are coming. The Canucks are dead-last in score-adjusted Fenwick. Desjardins may have been fired while I was typing this.
* A coach may not get fired in November