Most hockey fans would agree that any coach is limited by his roster of players. On the other hand, even a team stocked with international talent will only go so far as their coach takes them. The best coaches are those who can get the most out of the players at their disposal. That and a few opportune play-calls per game can be the difference between two points and zero. Coaches who directly influence the game for a victory are an asset to their franchise, and subsequently get paid accordingly. Here are some coaches who get paid the most in the NHL…but are still a value to their organizations.
*Note the NHL doesn’t require teams to divulge the actual contract numbers of their teams but these are the most likely top 10 earners in the league according to reports.
10. Patrick Roy – Colorado Avalanche
After 18 years as one of the league’s best goaltenders, Patrick Roy will go from stopping pucks in the net to a suit and tie behind the bench as he begins his tenure as the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche in 2013. ‘Saint Patrick’ is expected to be paid rather handsomely as he has a dual role that includes team Vice President of Operations and is the only coach in the NHL with general manager powers. In fact, Colorado previously tried to lure Roy into becoming their head coach in 2009 when he stated he’d take the job if they paid him $2 million a year for 4 years. They scoffed at the deal then but must’ve finally decided to bite the silver bullet.
9. Adam Oates – Washington Capitals
Many would think that a former NHL player would accept a pay cut to become a coach because they’ve already made their millions, but many times it’s the exact opposite. Some insist they’re already living comfortably in retirement, and an offer needs to be lucrative for them to return. Such is the case with former Blues and Bruins center and current Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates, who has amassed over $25 million in his playing days. In 2012 the Capitals signed Oates to a three year deal to coach the team, ironically on the same day he was inducted into the hockey hall of fame. The returns paid off immediately as the Caps won the Southeast division in Oates’ first year.
8. Darryl Sutter – Los Angeles Kings
Darryl Sutter, of the famous Sutter hockey brothers, has had what could be deemed an up and down NHL career. For instance, Sutter led the Chicago Blackhawks to a 106 point, 1st place finish in the Campbell Conference in ’92, only to disappointingly lose in the first round of the playoffs. He also took the 2004 Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup finals only to eventually lose out in 7 games to the Tampa Bay Lighting. Then, in Sutter’s first year with the Kings in 2011, Los Angeles limped into the playoffs as an 8th seed but subsequently tore through the competition to win Sutter’s first Stanley Cup. In January of 2013, Sutter was finally rewarded for bringing the first Stanley Cup to LA in 45 years, as the team signed the coach to a long term contract.
7. Barry Trotz – Nashville Predators
In the 15-year existence of the Nashville Predators, they’ve only known one coach, and that’s Barry Trotz. There is something to be said about keeping longevity as a coach in pro sports, and Trotz is behind only Gregg Poppovich of the San Antonio Spurs for longest tenure at the major level. Ironically, Trotz hasn’t necessarily kept his job due to success, as his Predators have made the playoffs only 7 times during his reign, never making it past the 2nd round. Still, the 51-year-old Trotz has been on the job since 1997, which by cost-of-living increases alone makes him a well paid NHL front man.
6. Dave Tippett – Phoenix Coyotes
If Dave Tippett would be making the money of the man he replaced, he’d likely only need to coach about 1 year before a comfy retirement. Tippett took over the head coaching job in Phoenix in 2009, replacing the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, who was making over $8 million per year as coach and GM of the Coyotes. At the time, Phoenix was facing loads of uncertainty about relocation, bankruptcy and the sale of the franchise. Tippett stepped into the volatile situation and immediately produced 50 wins on the ice, followed the next season by another playoff berth, and then the franchise’s first Pacific Division Title. As his contract was nearing expiration in 2013, teams around the NHL were lining up to talk to the coach who was potentially one of the best free agents in the game. However, Phoenix decided to reward Tippett’s turnaround with a 5-year extension this spring.
5. Todd McLellan – San Jose Sharks
Even though he’s been with San Jose since 2008 and is the winningest coach in franchise history, Todd McLellan found himself on the hot seat the past couple seasons thanks in part to not getting over the playoff hump of reaching a Stanley Cup Final. That being said, the Sharks are still perennial playoff contenders under Mclellan, and San Jose rewarded the coach with an extension in 2013, a move highly regarded by hockey pundits.
4. Dan Bylsma – Pittsburgh Penguins
It didn’t take long for Dan Bylsma to leave his mark on the proud Pittsburgh franchise. After being hired as a mid-season replacement in 2009, Bylsma went 18-3-4 in his first 25 games en route to winning the 2009 Stanley Cup. That successful season didn’t etch Bylsma’s tenure in stone though, especially after a 2012 playoff sweep at the hands of the Bruins. Still, Pittsburgh signed Bylsma to a two-year extension in 2013 and the coach could potentially make some serious money with a 2nd Stanley Cup in that time.
3. Claude Julien – Boston Bruins
Claude Julien’s tenure with the Bruins has had it’s ups and downs. They went from losing a best-of-7 series against Philadelphia while being up 3 games to 0 in 2010, to winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. Julien, who has been with the Bruins since 2008, has won over 250 games on the Boston bench and is largely credited with reviving hockey in Bean Town. In 2012 the Bruins rewarded that resurgence with a multi-year deal for Julien.
2. Mike Babcock – Detroit Red Wings
There’s perhaps no better model for consistency in the NHL than the Detroit Red Wings longtime coach Mike Babcock, who has been with the team since 2005. Babcock has led the Wings to the playoffs in each year of his tenure and won the Stanley Cup in 2008 . In 2010, Babcock signed a four-year extension that reaches through next season. If the Red Wings continue their playoff streak, Babcock could be in line for a lofty raise.
1. Joel Quenneville – Chicago Blackhawks
Two Stanley Cup victories in a 4-year span has a tendency to get a coach paid. After titles in 2010 and 2013, Chicago has extended Joel Quenneville’s contract into the 2016 season with some very lucrative terms. With Chicago’s young, talented core, Coach Q might add another Cup or two by the time this current deal is up.
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