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NHL coaching update: Laviolette's move to Rangers fills last vacancy

The Vegas Golden Knights won their first Stanley Cup Tuesday night to mark the start of the offseason, and here is an update on the new coaches coming in next season.

Offseason can begin with completed coach search

The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers 9-3 in Game 5 on Tuesday to win the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in the franchise’s six-year history. They are +1100 to repeat.

Several NHL clubs are getting a head start on the 2023/24 season with new head coaches, and can only hope their hires have similar success to the two Stanley Cup participants. 

Bruce Cassidy was let go by the Boston Bruins, +1100 to win the NHL Stanley Cup 2023/24, following the 2021/2022 season and was soon hired by Vegas., promptly winning his first Stanley Cup with the Golden Knights. 

His counterpart in the Final, Florida’s Paul Maurice, was also in his first year with the Panthers, leading the team on a remarkable postseason run., only to come up just short.

With the New York Rangers announcing the hire of ex-Capitals coach Peter Laviolette Tuesday, all six NHL vacancies are technically filled, as the Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to announce the hiring of Mike Babcock as soon as his contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs expires at the end of June.

The Rangers hold the shortest odds of these six teams to go all the way next season and are on offer at +1300 to end a 30-year wait for their fifth Stanley Cup in 2023/24.

Laviolette fills Rangers vacancy

The New York Rangers hired Laviolette this week. 

Laviolette is the eighth winningest coach in NHL history with 752 wins. 

He has reached the Stanley Cup three times with three different clubs and won the 2006 Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes. 

He comes from Washington, where the Capitals did not renew his contract after the season. 

He replaces Gerard Gallant, whose team was dumped in the first round by the New Jersey Devils a year after falling two games short of the Stanley Cup.

Cronin takes over for Eakins in Anaheim

With a 2007 Stanley Cup title that seems eons away, the Anaheim Ducks have failed to make the playoffs for five years in a row, the worst five-year stretch in franchise history. 

Most of that futility occurred under Dallas Eakins, who was fired after going 100-147-44 in four seasons, including an NHL-worst 23-47-12 this year. 

The Ducks own the second overall pick in this month’s NHL Entry Draft. 

Anaheim have turned to Cronin, a long-time AHL coach who led the Colorado Avalanche’s affiliate this past season. 

Cronin has nearly 40 years’ coaching experience at all levels, having served as an assistant NHL coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders as well as a head coach at Northeastern.

Babcock expected to be the pick at Columbus

Another NHL franchise that has spent an extended period of time in or near the cellar are the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Columbus has not made the postseason in three years, including a paltry 25-48-9 record this season. 

Brad Larsen was not retained after going 62-86-16 in less than two seasons. 

Columbus’ choice as Larsen’s successor is a controversial one. 

Mike Babcock is an established winner. He has won 700 games in the NHL leading Anaheim, the Detroit Red Wings and the Maple Leafs. 

That win total is good for 12th in NHL history and he won the 2007-08 Stanley Cup with Detroit. as well as a slew of titles with Canada, including a world championship and two gold medals. 

Even though he has not coached them in a few years, Babcock’s contract with Toronto does not officially expire until the end of June. 

Since his dismissal in Toronto a quarter of the way into the 2019-2020 season, it was publicly revealed that Babcock displayed extremely abusive verbal behavior at more than one NHL stop in the past. 

The Blue Jackets are hoping Babcock’s winning acumen arrives in Columbus and not the rest of his baggage, although Columbus remain among the outsiders at +6000 for Stanley Cup glory next season.

Capitals land Carbery

The Barry Trotz curse continues in Washington, where the Capitals fired Peter Laviolette after the franchise missed the postseason for the first time in nine years. 

Laviolette and predecessor Todd Reirden went a combined 169-87-33 the past five seasons, but have not won a postseason series since Trotz concluded his four-year stop in DC by winning the 2018 Stanley Cup title. 

Carbery is a former head coach of Washington’s AHL affiliate in Hershey, where he led the Bears for three seasons. 

Considered one of the top up-and-coming NHL coaches, Carbery helped lead the Maple Leafs to their first playoff series victory since 2004 as an assistant this postseason.

Flames promoting Huska

After missing the postseason for the second time in three years, the Calgary Flames fired Darryl Sutter.

 After winning two Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings, Sutter was not as successful in his second go-around with Calgary. 

He led the Flames to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004, their only appearance in the championship series in the past 34 years. 

After going 38-27-17 this season, Calgary has turned to its own bench to replace Sutter. 

Ryan Huska was a Calgary assistant the past five seasons after leading the Flames’ AHL affiliate for four years, and was the head coach of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets for seven seasons, leading them to a Memorial Cup Final in 2009. 

Huska is known for his defensive acumen, and the Flames have been a top-six penalty killing side during his time on the bench. Calgary are +3000 to win the NHL Stanley Cup 2023/24.

Predators tap Devils' Brunette to take over

Like the Capitals, the Nashville Predators missed the playoffs this year for the first time in nine seasons. That cost John Hynes his job. 

Hynes was 134-96-18 in four seasons at the helm, but his teams did not win a postseason series in three years and the Predators finished 42-32-8 this season. 

Nashville is hosting this year’s NHL Entry Draft at the end of the month, and new coach, as well as familiar face, Andrew Brunette, will play a role in their first selection with the 15th pick. 

Brunette played in the NHL for 16 seasons and scored the first goal in Nashville Predators franchise history in 1998 during his only season with the club. 

Brunette comes from New Jersey where he was associate head coach for a season, after having led the Florida Panthers to the Presidents’ Trophy as their interim head coach the season before.

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