With a few exceptions, NHL coaches are hired to eventually get fired. It's the circle of life, the way of the world. It's understood and just a matter of "when."

Teams generally aren't shy about making alterations behind the bench. Last season, the NHL saw four coaching changes by this point in the season. In 2019-20, there were four coaching changes by Dec. 10.

"I think decisions are sort of made by U.S. Thanksgiving, but not necessarily executed. The execution period is the four weeks following Thanksgiving," said Neil Glasberg, a sports agent who represents coaches with PBI Sports.

Yet through Dec. 6, the NHL had yet to see a coaching change this season. Some of that is due to how many coaching changes were made in the offseason, when 12 teams named new head coaches. But some seats are heating up as the season continues.

Here's a temperature check on the NHL's coaching hot seats for all 32 teams. Contract information is courtesy of CapFriendly and NHL sources.


Burning up

Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver Canucks
Dallas Eakins, Anaheim Ducks
Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers
D.J. Smith, Ottawa Senators

I reached out to several sources about the first coach they felt could be fired this season. All of them responded with one name: Bruce Boudreau.

It's not difficult to understand why. Wild comeback victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night notwithstanding, Vancouver has been one of the season's biggest disappointments. The Canucks have a .481 points percentage and are the third-worst defensive team in the NHL.

That's on the ice. Off the ice, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford has criticized the team's structure and player accountability while refusing to express support for Boudreau, whom Rutherford has indicated is still the head coach out of contractual obligation rather than managerial preference. Please recall that owner Francesco Aquilini hired Boudreau as his coach, giving him an option for this season, before he hired Rutherford as his head of hockey operations.

"It's only a matter of time," one NHL source said.

Gallant being in this tier might have been a shock to anyone watching the Rangers make the Eastern Conference finals last postseason, especially considering the talent they were returning for 2022-23. Through 27 games, the Rangers have a .537 points percentage. Gallant's line juggling has taken heat even though it can produce results, like pairing Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko with Mika Zibanejad in a win against the Blues this week. His lack of personal accountability has also come under fire.