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NHL

Top 15 Coaches Of The NHL

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Top Coaches From The NHL

NHL
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Coaches come and go in the NHL, some have success with a single team over a long period of time, while others with less than 82 games with their current team find themselves winning the Stanley Cup. I'll be taking a look at the top 15 coaches from the NHL basing the success of each on tenure with their current team. Where a coach may not have succeeded in the past, moving on to another team could greatly turn his career around.

From the NHL's longest tenured coach Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres, to Darryl Sutter of the Los Angeles Kings, each coach on this list has found success in some form with their team. You'll find rookie coaches and seasoned veterans, along with a few that may be lesser known or at times overlooked. The NHL is full of All-Star caliber players and the coaches behind the benches aren't much different, each being world class.

Since the NHL is full of talented coaching some favorites who you may have expected to make this list may not have, I feel the selections I have made are the best quality available in the league today based off of success with their teams. By this time next year everything could change and even the top three on the list could be coaching in different cities. You never know how things will go in the NHL, one day you could be on top of the standings, the next you're losing to the worst team in the league. Please enjoy and be on the lookout in the future for an updated list of top coaches in the NHL.

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15. Paul Maclean-Ottawa Senators

Senators
Marc DesRosiers-US PRESSWIRE

Paul Maclean was named head coach of the Ottawa Senators in June, 2011 and lead his team to a playoff birth in his first year. After a disappointing 2010-2011 season Maclean looked to turn the team around after missing the playoffs the previous season. He did just that and along with the great play of Erik Karlsson the Senators returned to the playoffs, however they would eventually lose to the New York Rangers in 7 games. The Senators have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL and with young stars already in the lineup Maclean could have a very good coaching career ahead of him in Ottawa. Look for the Senators to climb the rankings over the next few years and solidify themselves as a tough team to beat across the league.

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14. Kevin Dineen - Florida Panthers

Panthers
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Dineen was hired by the Florida Panthers after GM Dale Tallon opted not to have Peter Deboer return for his fourth season behind the Panthers bench. In his first season coaching in the NHL not only did Dineen need to adjust to his new environment he also needed to help a majority of his roster do the same. In the off season Tallon had completely revamped the lineup bringing in 10 new players in addition to the players added throughout the season. Dineen turned the lineup into a winner without the aid of an NHL star, aside from possibly Brian Campbell on defense. The Panthers returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2000 and took the New Jersey Devils to double overtime of game 7 in a series many predicted wouldn’t go beyond 6 games. The Panthers hold the best prospect pool in the NHL and with future stars like Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom, Dineen’s job looks to be a bit easier than it may have a year ago.

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13. Joel Qunneville-Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Quenneville has been with the Chicago Blackhawks since 2008 and has helped turn the franchise around. In his first year with the team he helped them to the conference finals in which they eventually lost to the Detroit Red Wings. The following season would see the Blackhawks go on their unbelievable Stanley Cup run where they beat the Philadephia Flyers. The past two years have been a bit of a disappointment for the Blackhawks, losing in the first round in consecutive years, you may attribute that to the loss of several key players from the teams Stanley Cup winning season though. The Blackhawks do however have some good young prospects in their system however who could help the team return to greatness once again.

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12. Lindy Ruff-Buffalo Sabres

Sabres
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Lindy Ruff has been the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres since 1996 and since then has had many ups and downs with the team. Since joining the team he’s had Dominik Hasek in goal and now Ryan Miller, in a sense he’s been blessed in goal. Defensively the team has always been pretty solid and offensively the team gets by but has never had a stand out player. Being the longest tenured coach in the NHL today is a nice accomplishment as teams seem to change coaching staff quicker than players change to a new pair of skates or pads. With what he’s had to work with over the years Ruff has done a wonderful job in Buffalo, but with the disappointment of last season fans may be calling for a change after all of these years if things don’t turn around next season.

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11. Todd Mclellan-San-Jose Sharks

Sharks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Mclellan has been with the San Jose Sharks since 2008 and in his rookie campaign behind the bench he lead the Sharks to the President’s Trophy as the league’s best team in the regular season. A second round loss in the playoffs saw the Sharks exit the playoffs but he would use the previous seasons momentum to carry him into his season year taking the Sharks to the conference finals in back to back seasons. 2011-2012 would see Mclellan finish with his worst point output since taking over in San Jose finishing second in the Pacific Division and once again losing in the conference quarterfinals. You could blame age on the decline of the sharks over the years as some of the teams star players get older. Look to young guys like Logan Couture to pick up some of the slack in the coming seasons.

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10. Claude Julien-Boston Bruins

Bruins
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Claude Julien Had been with the Boston Bruins since 2007 and has helped turn around a team that had been struggling in previous seasons. Julien has qualified for the playoffs with Boston in each of his five seasons with the team including winning the Stanley Cup in the 2010-2011 season after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in an amazing seven game series. Julien could have ranked higher on this list, however with injuries and inconsistent play by the Bruins at times he fell slightly. If the Bruins can stay healthy and remain on a consistent level of play Julien will certainly move a lot higher in any future rankings. Of course he can’t be blamed for health misfortunes, the start of Boston’s season in 2011-2012, despite the unbelievable winning streak they eventually went on, can be greatly improved on.

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9. Ken Hitchcock-St Louis Blues

Blues
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Ken Hitchcock took over behind the St. Louis Blues bench 13 games into the 2011-2012 season after a disappointing start to their season. He responded by turning the team around and leading them to a 43-15-11 record in 16 games, finishing first in the Central Division. The team would eventually be eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, but the response players seemed to show Hitchcock was widely noticed throughout the league. It gained so much notice in fact that Hitchcock was nominated for and won the Jack Adams Award (coach of the year.)

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8. Darryl Sutter-Los Angeles Kings

Kings
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

In just his first season behing the Los Angeles Kings bench, Darryl Sutter led the Kings to their first Stanley Cup victory. Sutter would take over as the Kings head coach 33 games into the 2011-2012 season and helped transform a team that was underachieving into a winner. With an already stacked roster, Sutter received another piece of the puzzle prior to the playoffs when the team acquired Jeff Carter from the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets. It seems as if things couldn’t have been made any easier for Sutter as the Kings took 3-0 series leads in each of its first 3 playoff series. With many of the team’s top players locked into long term deals, look for Sutter to continue his winning ways in L.A.

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7. Dave Tippett-Phoenix Coyotes

Coyotes
Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Dave Tippett has been with the Phoenix Coyotes for three seasons and has lead the team to the playoffs in each season, finally winning the franchise’s playoff series in 2011-2012. Tippett led the Coyotes to the Conference Finals, where he would eventually lose to the Stanley Cup Champion L.A. Kings, despite many believing they wouldn’t make it far. Tippett has also had to deal with relocation talks and uncertainty of the franchises future, along with Bankruptcy and the league taking control of the team. With having limited resources in signing big name players Tippett has worked with his players in forming a solid group who really work well together on the ice.

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6. Peter Laviolette-Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Laviolette led the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season behind the bench, where he would eventually lose the the Chicago Blackhawks. However the following season he pushed his team to be better, leading them to an Atlantic Division Title and into the playoffs for the second straight season. His team would eventually lose to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, the second year in a row he had lost to the Stanley Cup winner. Again in 2011-2012 Laviolette led his team into the playoffs where he defeated the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round but eventually losing to the New Jersey Devils. Laviolette has proven he can push his team throughout the season and into the playoffs, he just has one last hurdle to get over until he eventually claims a Stanley Cup.

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5. Alain Vigneault-Vancouver Canucks

Canucks
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Alain Vigneault has been with the Vancouver Canucks since 2006-2007 and has claimed a division title in five of the six seasons. Including leading his team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, eventually losing to the champion Boston Bruins. He may have had a little help in each of his season behind the Vancouver bench with the high quality talent the roster bolsters, including Roberto Luongo , Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Vigneault mixes quality offensive numbers mixed with a low team GAA, making him a good all around coach that works on both ends of the ice.

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4. John Tortorella-New York Rangers

Rangers
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

John Tortorella may not be the friendliest coach when it comes to media, but when it comes to hockey he has helped the New York Rangers and it’s superstar filled roster turn into a winner. After several disappointing yet decent seasons in New York, Tortorella appears to have shaped the Rangers into a very dangerous and scary team to face. In 2011-2012 he led the Rangers to the playoffs for the second straight year and into the Conference Finals. With the addition of Rick Nash to his lineup, look for Tortorella to once again push his squad in the regular season and the playoffs, because he knows they have the ability to win and he won’t expect anything less.

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3. Mike Babcock-Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings
Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Babcock has been behind the Detroit Red Wings bench since 2005-2006 and has led his team to 5 division titles and two Stanley Cup Finals. In 2008 Babcock would win the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins, and returning the following season in a rematch but eventually losing to the Champion Penguins. Babcock has always had the honor of coaching several hall of fame caliber players, including recently retired Niklas Lidstrom. With a solid young core and quality prospects in the system, Babcock looks to have a long and healthy career in Detroit and will almost certainly lead the team to another championship in the future.

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2. Barry Trotz-Nashville Predators

Predators
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Barry Trotz has been the only head coach the Nashville Predators have ever known, and he has made his mark on the team installing a hard working, grinding style. The Predators have never had an impact type of scorer but work more so on committee from line one through four. With solid defense from Shea Weber and Ryan Suter and superb goaltending from Tomas Vokuon and now Pekka Rinne, Trotz has focused on a defensive game for his team and it’s worked. With the departure of Suter to the Minnesota Wild, Trotz may look to his young prospects to step up and fill the void. Trotz looks to improve on his team’s offense in the future and when it finally comes together this team could easily challenge for the Stanley Cup for years to come.

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1. Dan Bylsma-Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Bylsma took over the Pittsburgh Penguins head coaching duties 57 games into the 2008-2009 season when the Penguins were close to missing the playoffs. In a disappointing season Bylsma turned the penguins around, finishing the season 18-3-4 in just 25 games and leading the Penguins to it’s first Stanley Cup since 1992. Over the past three seasons Bylsma and the Penguins were heavy favorites to win the Stanley Cup, however injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin derailed the Penguins momentum after winning the Stanley Cup and Bylsma had to work with a somewhat limited roster to piece things together. Along with unsteady goaltending at times Bylsma has worked not only to be an offensive powerhouse but also a solid defensive team. In 2011-2012 the Penguins would lose to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, in what seemed like a series they were completely outmatched in. Look for Byslma to turn his team around in the future and lead them back to another championship, he has the tools and the knowledge, it’s all a matter of time.