SportsPulse: USA TODAY’s hockey insider Kevin Allen details the story lines that you should pay attention to this season.
USA TODAY Sports
High expectations and pressure to excel are inherent in all NHL contracts. But some NHL personnel face more pressure than others. Just ask members of the Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs.
Here is a list of NHL people facing added pressure heading into the start of the 2017-18 season. (Opening night is Oct. 4.)
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland: Holland is one of the league’s most respected general managers.
But many in his fan base have turned on him because of the perception that the Red Wings lack promise and they have too many “bad” contracts undermining the team’s effort to rebuild.
Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice: The Jets have an impressive collection of young players, and they seem poised to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15.
If they don’t make enough progress in climbing the ladder in the challenging Central Division, history tells us Maurice would be vulnerable. Late last season, Bovada odds makers had Maurice ranked No. 2 on the list of NHL coaches next to be fired. First on that list was Lindy Ruff, who was fired by the Dallas Stars at the conclusion of the season.
Arizona Coyotes (re: arena): General manager John Chayka aggressively upgraded the Coyotes’ roster this summer by adding Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers and Derek Stepan. Those additions are reasons to believe that the Coyotes will be a significantly improved team.
But before we all get too excited about the Coyotes’ future, we have to see a new arena plan in place. How long have we waited for the Coyotes to get facility issues permanently resolved?
Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic: The Avalanche finished with an embarrassing 48 points last season, 21 points below the second-worst team.
Sakic didn’t make any eye-catching offseason changes, and the hockey world is generally perplexed about what his plans are for Matt Duchene. Fans loved the classy Sakic as a player, but it’s fair to say they are confused by his performance as a GM. What’s the plan? Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be aggressive enough.
Carolina Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling: The signing of Darling is one of a handful of reasons to be optimistic about…