It's still very early in the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season but by the sound of things it seems like there may be some major changes coming to multiple organizations around the NHL very quickly.
On Saturday night during Sportsnet's "Headlines" segment, Sportsnet insiders Nick Kypreos and Elliotte Friedman touched on the big stories in the league and one of their main focuses was on the unusual level of talk regarding head coaches and their futures this early in the season. The talk began regarding the Los Angeles Kings and a 20 minute, players only, closed door meeting that reportedly took place today after the Kings suffered yet another loss on home ice, this time going down 5 - 1 against the Buffalo Sabres.
Although neither Kypreos nor Friedman gave any indication that they believe head coach John Stevens is about to be fired they did make it clear that they feel he is currently on the hot seat given the lack of success the Kings' have seen to start the regular season. What is particularly interesting however is that this was merely a springboard to discuss three other head coaches in the National Hockey League who are currently also on the hot seat according to Friedman and Kypreos.
The Sportsnet insiders indicated that the aforementioned Stevens as well as Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol, and St. Louis Blues head coach Mike Yeo are all currently on the hot seat and that they may not remain there for much longer if things continue to go poorly for their respective teams.
"We sense there's some situations, even though it's early, where the pressure is ratcheting," began Friedman.
"No question Elliotte there's a sense of urgency," added Kypreos. "I can't recall 6 games into a regular season in terms of how much talk there is and how much attention there is to some coaching staffs."
There were two more particularly interesting pieces of information to come out of this segment regarding the aforementioned coaches, and that was a hint from Kypreos that may suggest that these decisions are no longer in the hands of management, with ownership of each respective team looking for immediate results.
"Those teams are close watched by their ownership groups, they want results now."
It sounds like the owners themselves could step in here which could also be a very bad sign for the general managers of the aforementioned teams. No one would be surprised to see Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli kicked out the door at this point but general manager Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers, Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues, and relatively recently appointed Kings' general manager Rob Blake would all be much bigger surprises if they were to be dismissed.
The final piece of interesting information came from Friedman and it came in the form of a former NHL head coach that could potentially slot in as a replacement for one of these current coaches should they be fired.
"I'm not specific to any situations Ron, but I think you're going to start hearing Alain Vigneault's name starting to come out there and be rumored for positions if they become open."
It sounds like some big changes are coming for several teams around the NHL, and coming fast.