NHL coaching changes tracker: Blues keep Drew Bannister, Senators tab Travis Green among latest 2024 hirings, firings

The NHL head coaching carousel has been a whirlwind over the last two years.

Since February 2022, 27 of the 32 clubs in the league have made a change at the position, including seven transitions in the middle of the 2023-24 season — and more could be on the way.

While the Stanley Cup playoffs continue, the teams out of the competition are looking toward next fall. For some of those franchises, that not only means looking to add new players but a fresh option behind the bench as well. 

What coaches are looking for new employment, and who could replace them? The Sporting News is tracking all of the NHL head coaching openings, and the best candidates available to fill in the voids.

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2024 NHL head coaching changes

Team Fired Coach Replacement
Buffalo Sabres Don Granato Lindy Ruff
Los Angeles Kings Todd McClellan TBD
New Jersey Devils Lindy Ruff TBD
Ottawa Senators D.J. Smith Travis Green
San Jose Sharks David Quinn TBD
Seattle Kraken Dave Hakstol TBD
St. Louis Blues Craig Berube Drew Bannister
Winnipeg Jets Rick Bowness TBD

Don Granato, Sabres

This was the year the Sabres were supposed to get back to the postseason. Instead, Buffalo faced another year of disappointment, failing to sniff a wild-card spot. While Granato may have been the fit for developing the young core, he’s not the guy the team needs to take the step out of the rebuild. Buffalo wasted no time finding Granato’s replacement, electing to bring back Lindy Ruff for a second stint as head coach of the team. Ruff, who was fired by the Devils in March, previously was the head coach for Buffalo from 1997 to 2013. 

Lindy Ruff, Devils

After taking three steps forward last year, the Devils seemed to take five steps back this season, failing to reach the postseason after finishing second in the Metro last year. Ruff was fired about three months too late, as New Jersey waited until March to pull the plug. While the front office may have hoped the coaching change would spark the team, it did not, and now the Devils are looking for a new voice to lead the young core. Travis Green was named interim head coach to end the season, but he left New Jersey for the head coaching job in Ottawa.

Dave Hakstol, Kraken

Hakstol was an NHL Coach of the Year finalist in 2023 after helping the Kraken to its first playoff berth, but after regressing this season, Seattle elected to part ways with the franchise’s first-ever head coach. There were reports that some of the “important” players on the team wanted Hakstol out, and GM Ron Francis elected to listen to those skaters, firing Hakstol after the season.

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Todd McClellan, Kings

The Kings got out to a strong start in 2023-24, but a miserable stretch from late December to early February resulted in McClellan losing his job in his fifth year at the helm. GM Rob Blake was left with no choice but to part ways with the head coach in an effort to both save the season and his job as well. Jim Hiller was named interim head coach and is considered one of the candidates for the full-time role. 

David Quinn, Sharks

In his second stint as an NHL head coach, Quinn got the short end of the stick in San Jose. The team is in the midst of a long rebuild, and Quinn was in charge of running one of the worst rosters in recent NHL history. The Sharks finished exactly as expected and are in a prime position to land the No. 1 pick in Macklin Celebrini. Quinn’s reward was getting the boot after just two seasons when the team was expected to stink.

D.J. Smith, Senators

Smith’s departure from Ottawa felt like a long time coming. After years of failing to take the necessary steps forward with the club, the Senators fired Smith in mid-December after another poor start. It wasn’t all on him, as the roster was flawed and he did help some of the younger players progress, but the Senators were left with no choice but to make a change. Jacques Martin took over as interim, but he was always viewed as a short-term replacement before the offseason. 

Craig Berube, Blues

In what was likely the most controversial firing of the season, the Blues parted ways with Berube in mid-December after a mediocre start to the season. Berube was the biggest reason why St. Louis won the Stanley Cup in 2019, turning around the team from one of the worst clubs to a contender in a matter of months. GM Doug Armstrong even blamed himself for putting Berube in a poor position this year with a painfully average roster. Drew Bannister took over as interim, and signed an extension this offseason to remain in the role moving forward. 

Rick Bowness, Jets

Bowness’ inclusion on this list is not due to a firing, but a retirement. After 38 years in the league, “Bones” elected to call it quits on an incredible career that consisted of stops with the Coyotes, Bruins, Senators, Islanders, Stars and Jets. There was speculation he would retire in 2022 when he stepped down from his position with the Stars, but he ended up taking over in Winnipeg, extending his career another two years before officially retiring in 2024. 

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Potential 2024 NHL head coaching candidates

Craig Berube, former Blues head coach

As mentioned above, Berube should never have been fired by the Blues in the first place. But one team’s trash is another club’s treasure, and now every team should be blowing up the 2019 Stanley Cup champion’s phone.

Berube coaches the same exact way he played — he’s aggressive, he’s demanding and he does not hold back from challenging a team. I can think of a few clubs who could use that exact kind of voice on the bench. 

Jay Woodcroft, former Oilers head coach

When the Oilers got out to an awful 3-9-1 start, something had to give. You can’t start the season with Stanley Cup aspirations and begin a campaign that poorly. As a result, Woodcroft was fired, but he should not have to wait long to find a new job. He wasn’t necessarily the problem in Edmonton, and was responsible for turning the team around just two years ago when the Oilers struggled under Dave Tippett.

At 47 years old, he’s a young option with nearly two decades of NHL coaching experience. 

Dean Evason, former Wild head coach

Another coach fired in the fall, Evason was booted from Minnesota after the Wild’s 5-10-4 start to the campaign. Like Woodcroft and Berube, was it justified? Maybe, but the Wild went on to underperform, missing the playoffs under his replacement John Hynes.

Evason has a history of getting to the postseason, but failing to advance to the second round, but it’s likely he’ll get a second crack at an NHL head coaching gig somewhere soon. 

Gerard Gallant, former Rangers head coach

Fans may be sick and tired of the retreads around the NHL, but Gallant undoubtedly should be a candidate for vacancies this offseason. He most recently was the head coach for the Rangers, getting just two years with New York before the team pulled the plug. You can argue Gallant has been unjustly fired by a number of teams, including the Rangers, the Panthers and the Golden Knights.

Gallant comes with experience and doesn’t have as rigid of a coaching approach as others, however, perhaps he has adjusted his strategy in the year he’s been away from coaching, given his history. 

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Jay Leach, Kraken assistant coach

Leach was considered to be a final candidate for the Kraken’s first head coaching job, but Seattle went with Dave Hakstol. The team brought Leach on board as an assistant, where he helped the team to a sensational turnaround in Year 2 before the fall this past season.  

The 44-year-old previously was a head coach with the Providence Bruins of the AHL and was considered a candidate to fill in the Bruins’ vacancy last summer. It’s a matter of when, not if, Leach gets an NHL head coaching job. 

Steve Ott, Blues assistant coach

Over the last two seasons, the Blues have had a ton of turnover on its coaching staff. The one constant? Ott, which is a testament to how well he does in his role since he was hired in 2017. He helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 2019, defeating the Bruins in the final. 

How much longer Ott remains in St. Louis is unknown. There have been rumors floating around the last couple of seasons that the 41-year-old could be an intriguing head coaching candidate. However, he has yet to hold the title of head coach at any level. 

Ryan Warsofsky, Sharks assistant coach

Warsofsky is on the fast track to becoming an NHL head coach. He’s only 36 years old, but Warsofsky was considered a finalist for the Sharks’ head coaching job in the 2022 offseason. San Jose chose David Quinn instead, but Quinn brought him onto his staff as an assistant. Now with Quinn out, he could be next in line in San Jose. 

In 2021-22, Warsofsky became the youngest head coach since Laviolette in 1999 to win an AHL championship, leading the Chicago Wolves to a 2022 Calder Cup victory. Not many coaches at his age get a head coaching gig, but Warsofsky could very soon get that title. 

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