Change is something that’s inevitable in the hockey world, and when it comes to coaching, change is as much a part of the territory as wearing a suit behind the bench. Mid-season non-trade deadline trades might be an endangered species in the NHL, but the mid-season change behind the bench has never really gone away. Team is struggling and in need of a spark? Better fire the coach since you can’t fire 23 players. Has the team tuned their coach out? Time to let him go! Last season, it took less than a month for a team to make a coaching change. This season, we almost made it to December before we had our first coaching switch. We take a look at that, a possible conflict over a team moniker, a Metro Division team that’s for real, and what NHL teams are worth the most in this week’s edition of Around the NHL.
UPHEAVAL BEHIND THE SCENES IN SUNRISE
A year ago, the Florida Panthers were a team on an upward trajectory, ending the season setting franchise records in wins and points and winning the Atlantic Division before losing in the first round of the playoffs. During the offseason, they bumped general manager Dale Tallon upstairs and made Tom Rowe the new GM. After several big acquisitions in free agency, it looked like the Panthers would continue their ascent into a legitimate contender. However, an 11-10-1 start led to Florida making a head coaching change, as Gerard Gallant was relieved of his duties following a 3-2 loss in Carolina on Sunday. Gallant was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year, but after that loss in Raleigh, photos were released of him hailing a cab outside of PNC Arena. That’s not a good look for the franchise, especially one that has been struggling and just began a six-game road trip. For a coach that had been as successful and popular with his players as Gallant, this move reeks of a power move on management and ownership’s part, as the team shuffled their front office with more of a focus on analytics. This clashed with how Gallant wanted to coach the team, and as a result, the change was made. Rowe has been named the interim head coach for the rest of the season.
U.S. ARMY TO REVIEW VEGAS’S USE OF GOLDEN KNIGHTS’ NAME
On November 22, the NHL’s newest franchise, set to begin play in Las Vegas in the fall of 2017, unveiled their name, color scheme, and logo, christening themselves as the Vegas Golden Knights. Owner Bill Foley, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, had long favored the name Black Knights, which is the same name used by Army’s NCAA teams. However, concerns from the Army caused Foley to abandon Black Knights as a moniker, but he still favored using Knights in some capacity. Despite going with Golden Knights as the franchise’s name, Foley may not be completely out of the woods with the U.S. Army just yet. The name Golden Knights is not only the name of Foley’s hockey team, it’s also the name of the Army’s parachute team based in Ft. Bragg. They have used that name since the 1960’s. In a story published on Monday in the Fayetteville Observer, a spokeswoman for the Army Marketing and Research Group was quoted saying that the military was “reviewing the situation and figuring out what the way ahead would be.” What this means going forward isn’t clear, but it will be something to watch. Foley had gotten permission from Clarkson College, whose teams also go by Golden Knights, to use the name. Whether the U.S. Army takes any sort of action remains to be seen. If they do, it’s a good thing Foley also trademarked the use of Silver Knights and Desert Knights. It just might come in handy.
THE COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS ARE FOR REAL
After the first month of the season, the Blue Jackets got off to a pretty solid start, but people had a reason to be skeptical of it. Two years ago, Columbus finished their season on a roll despite being out of the playoff hunt, and many prognosticators had them building on that and returning to the playoffs last year. Instead, they got off to a dreadful start that prompted the Jackets to fire then-head coach Todd Richards and replace him with the fiery John Tortorella. However, the Jackets continued that run of hot play from the opening month all the way through November. Columbus went 9-2-3 during the season’s second month, putting them in position for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. After picking up an OT win against Dallas, Columbus shocked the hockey world when the annihilated the Montreal Canadiens 10-0 on home ice. It was also a month that included impressive 8-4 and 5-1 wins over the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively. Quite a change for a team that was dreadful last season and was criticized for having too many aging veterans with bloated contracts on their roster. So far, it has been youngsters like Alexander Wennberg and Zach Werenski, the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for November, leading the way. However, the return to health of Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes has been a major factor as well. If Bobrovsky stays healthy, the Blue Jackets will continue to be a very dangerous team going forward.
FORBES RELEASES THEIR NHL FRANCHISE VALUES
While it’s not one of those things that we talk about often, it’s always pretty cool to see how Forbes rates the value of professional sports teams every year, and hockey is no different. This was a list that was topped by the Toronto Maple Leafs every year from 2006-14, but last year, it was the New York Rangers that knocked the Leafs off that throne. This year was no different, as the Rangers again hold Forbes’ top spot as the most valuable franchise in the NHL in 2016 with an estimated worth of $1.25 billion, up from $1.2 billion last season. The Montreal Canadiens reside in the #2 spot at $1.12 billion, while Toronto didn’t fall far, ending up in third place at $1.1 billion. On the other end of the spectrum, the Carolina Hurricanes are dead last at $230 million. In terms of operating income, the Canadiens made the most money, bringing in a profit of $76.9 million. The Florida Panthers lost the most money in the league in 2016, as they had operating loss of $15.4 million. If you’re wondering where the Lightning ended up, they rank 24th in the league in terms of value at $305 million. Even though that’s in the lower third of the league, when you take into account that current owner Jeff Vinik bought the team for $170 million in 2010, that’s a pretty solid increase in value. The full list of Forbes’ NHL franchise value rankings is as follows:
- New York Rangers, $1.25 billion
- Montreal Canadiens, $1.12 billion
- Toronto Maple Leafs, $1.1 billion
- Chicago Blackhawks, $925 million
- Boston Bruins, $800 million
- Philadelphia Flyers, $720 million
- Vancouver Canucks, $700 million
- Detroit Red Wings, $625 million
- Los Angeles Kings, $600 million
- Washington Capitals, $575 million
- Pittsburgh Penguins, $570 million
- Dallas Stars, $500 million
- San Jose Sharks $470 million
- Edmonton Oilers, $445 million
- Anaheim Ducks, $415 million
- Calgary Flames, $410 million
- Minnesota Wild, $400 million
- New York Islanders, $385 million
- Colorado Avalanche, $360 million
- Ottawa Senators, $355 million
- Winnipeg Jets, $340 million
- New Jersey Devils, $320 million
- St. Louis Blues, $310 million.
- Tampa Bay Lightning, $305 million
- Buffalo Sabres, $300 million
- Nashville Predators, $270 million
- Columbus Blue Jackets, $245 million
- Arizona Coyotes, $240 million
- Florida Panthers, $235 million
- Carolina Hurricanes, $230 million