It struck me as honest and heartfelt, but I didn't think much more about it until today when I was in the midst of a lively email discussion about the value of NHL coaching experience. In the email exchange, my brother wondered aloud (...in text?), "I wonder what the average number of years of coaching experience is for Cup-winning coaches over the last 10 or 15 years."
Naturally I had to look it up, and what I found was not that interesting when looking at total NHL coaching experience, but far more interesting when looking at the number of years the coach was with their team before winning the Cup. For the "Fire Bruce" crowd it would provide significant ammo if, you know, the Caps didn't already fire Bruce.
Basically what you need to know is that, in the last 20 years, coaches who didn't win a Stanley Cup in their first four years with a team never ended up winning one with that team. And in that same span, only one coach tenured more than 4 years has won a Cup, and that was Scotty Bowman (twice). Boudreau was in his 5th season as the Caps' bench boss.
So it would seem that a coach only has 2-4 years of gas in the tank with any given team.
Here's the proof:
|YEAR||TEAM||COACH||NHL EXPERIENCE||YEARS WITH TEAM AT TIME OF CUP WIN|
|2011||Bruins||Claude Julien||8 years||4th season in Boston|
|2010||Blackhawks||Joel Quenneville||13 years||2nd season in Chicago|
|2009||Penguins||Dan Bylsma||<1 year||1st season in Pittsburgh*|
|2008||Red Wings||Mike Babcock||5 years||3rd season in Detroit|
|2007||Ducks||Randy Carlyle||2 years||2nd season in Anaheim|
|2006||Hurricanes||Peter Laviolette||4 years||2nd season in Carolina|
|2004||Lightning||John Tortorella||4 years||4th season in Tampa|
|2003||Devils||Pat Burns||13 years||1st season in New Jersey|
|2002||Red Wings||Scotty Bowman||30 years||9th season in Detroit|
|2001||Avalanche||Bob Hartley||3 years||3rd season in Colorado|
|2000||Devils||Larry Robinson||5 years||1st season in New Jersey**|
|1999||Stars||Ken Hitchcock||4 years||4th season in Dallas|
|1998||Red Wings||Scotty Bowman||26 years||5th season in Detroit|
|1997||Red Wings||Scotty Bowman||25 years||4th season in Detroit|
|1996||Avalanche||Marc Crawford||2 years||1st season in Colorado***|
|1995||Devils||Jacques Lemaire||4 years||2nd season in New Jersey|
|1994||Rangers||Mike Keenan||9 years||1st season in New York|
|1993||Canadiens||Jacques Demers||9 years||1st season in Montreal|
|1992||Penguins||Scotty Bowman||20 years||1st season in Pittsburgh|
|1991||Penguins||Bob Johnson||6 years||1st season in Pittsburgh|
**Robinson coached the last 8 games of the 1999-2000 season
***Those who were hoping the Caps would hire Crawford should look up what he's done since
Breaking it down further, over the last 20 years the average tenure at the time of winning the Stanley Cup is 2.6, and the median is 2.
As for the NHL experience factor, the average years of NHL coaching experience for Stanley Cup winners over the last 20 years is 9.65, which is skewed heavily by Bowman's 20, 25, 26 and 30. The median is 5.5.
As this relates to Dale Hunter, 8 of the last 20 Stanley Cups have been won by coaches in their first year with a team (40 percent!), but Bylsma's the only one who was in his first year as an NHL head coach. Five Cup winning coaches in the last 20 years have done it in their first NHL head coaching gig: Bylsma, Randy Carlyle with the Ducks, Bob Hartley with the Avalanche, John Tortorella with the Lighting (unless you count his 4 games as interim coach of the Rangers in 1999), and Ken Hitchcock with the Stars.
To look at it another way, my friend Will saw this data and immediately said, "So Buffalo is really f***ing up with Lindy Ruff."