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NHL teams are changing coaches like they pull goalies

Diana C. Nearhos | The NHL looks like musical chairs for coaches. Get to know Cedric Paquette.
Vegas Golden Knights NHL hockey team general manager Kelly McCrimmon holds a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020. Head coach Gerard Gallant was fired less than two years after leading the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final. Peter DeBoer will be the coach for the rest of the season. [SEAN KILPATRICK | AP]

It’s been a tumultuous year for coaches in the NHL. We haven’t reached the All-Star Game and seven coaches (and one general manager) have been fired.

In the Pacific Division, only two of eight coaches were with the same team 365 days ago (Rick Tocchet in Arizona and Travis Green in Vancouver).

Last season, the Blues fired their coach in November, then went from last place in December to the Stanley Cup champs. Are teams looking for that magic to repeat itself?

Vegas fired Gerard Gallant on Wednesday with the Golden Knights in a three-way tie for the two wild-card spots. They’ve lost four straight and are sinking in the Pacific, but he’ll be coaching the Pacific in the All-Star Game, for goodness sake.

* When a team is putting up a stinker, sometimes the coach pulls the goalie as a message to the whole team. It is almost like general managers are sending a similar message by firing coaches. Maybe a different voice is what you need. Under Mike Babcock, the Maple Leafs were 9-10-4 this season. Under Sheldon Keefe, they’re 15-5-1. But firing a coach isn’t pulling a goalie.

* The firing of seven coaches must mean there’s a bunch of new voices in the league, right? Nope. It’s just musical chairs. Four of the teams have interim coaches. Two other teams (Nashville and Vegas) immediately hired coaches fired by someone else this season. Keefe is the only new voice, having been hired from the AHL. Sure, it’s tempting to go for someone already established in the league, but maybe looking outside of the same group will get a different result.

Quick hits with Lightning center Cedric Paquette

Food he hated as a kid: Paquette fit the stereotype as a kid who hated vegetables. He eats his veggies these days, but still doesn’t like mushrooms or tomatoes.

Last binged TV show: Paquette is on season two of Netflix’ You. He likes that kind of thriller and watches a fair amount of TV on the road, when it’s easy to chill in a hotel room and binge.

Favorite school subject: Paquette liked math as a kid. He wasn’t any kind of great mathematician but he liked that the numbers followed rules, unlike some other classes.

Related: Re-live some of Alex Killorn's best rebound goals as he reached 20 goals for the first time

Three-on-three

Longest-tenured coaches in the NHL: 3. Jeff Blashill, Detroit: June 9, 2015. 2. Paul Maurice, Winnipeg: Jan. 12, 2014. 1. Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay: March 25, 2013.

Reasons to watch the all-star weekend: 3. There’s always something unexpected. 2. Players are shooting from platforms in the stands. 1. The women’s USA-Canada rivalry is the best rivalry.

Coldest Lightning game days this season: 3. Stockholm, 39 degrees. 2. Winnipeg, 18 degrees. 1. St. Paul, 3 degrees.

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at dnearhos@tampabay.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.

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