Like most private businesses, the National Hockey League is driven by results.

There’s a reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning have employed head coach Jon Cooper for 10 years and counting. There is a reason why defenceman Zdeno Chara is deciding on his playing future at the age of 45 – something that would be otherwise laughable for just about any other player in the league. And so on.

That’s not to say it’s a perfect process. Good organizations can identify who is driving the bus, while struggling organizations commit too many resources to those who are passengers. Every NHL franchise wants to win the Stanley Cup, but the blueprint drawn up for reaching that goal is far from uniform across the league.

That brings me to a bit of an under-the-radar story down in Florida, where the Panthers opted to replace head coach Andrew Brunette with Paul Maurice. It was a curious decision for two reasons.

Brunette was a first-year coach who was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award and pushed Florida to the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy. Maurice is fresh off a resignation from the Winnipeg Jets, and while he has tremendous experience as a head coach (fourth in games coached), results have varied.

We don’t have the full story for what is, on paper, an odd decision. Perhaps the Panthers decided that Brunette wasn’t the right organizational fit; perhaps the Panthers felt Maurice’s experience would be better served for a team that, despite its regular-season success, flamed out in an ugly manner when it mattered most this postseason. Without more information, it’s hard to judge both decisions – the one to remove Brunette, and the one to replace him with Maurice.

There is no doubt Brunette benefited from the roster put together by the Panthers’ front office. The team was electric under his watch, and how much Brunette contributed to that – after all, we are talking about a first-year coach – is up for debate.

Less up for debate is the Maurice effect. Maurice is one of 31 coaches with 1,000 games or more coached at the NHL level. Here they are, plotted by career win rate.

Most of these coaches were tremendously successful. If we look at win rate (we will measure this as a function of wins over wins, losses, and overtime losses for era adjustments) by regular season and playoffs, Maurice sits on the lower end of performance:

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Coaches become legacy coaches because, by and large, they win a lot of games. Of the coaches who have managed at least 1,000 games in the NHL, the average sees about a 54 per cent win rate in the regular season, and a tick over 51 per cent win rate in the playoffs. The more striking data point concerns how few of these coaches are underwater when it comes to the regular season – only Jacques Demers (1980-1999), Ron Wilson (1994-2012), and Maurice (1996-2022) satisfy those criteria.

All three of those coaches have had stints where the team they were managing was on the lower end of the skill and talent side, and to that end, merely concluding that a losing record makes for an underwhelming coach is a fool’s gambit. Look at Maurice’s final year in Carolina (2011-12) and the personnel they iced that year. Tough job for anyone, even Scotty Bowman.

But over many years and many coaching stops, one would expect Maurice – and similarly situated coaches – to have intra-career success at some point. That hasn’t been the case for Maurice. If we look at all his teams in the statistical modern era (2007 to present), we can see how they have fared at aggregate:

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Maurice’s teams were skiing downhill for about a decade, bleeding all over the ice. It wasn’t until his 2018-19 season where Maurice saw an extraordinary breakout, a season where the Jets finished fourth in both shooting percentage and save percentage. For Maurice, the boost in save percentage – driven by goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s breakout season – was a welcomed whipsaw. Maurice had been, to some degree, beleaguered by poor goaltending during his coaching stints. A Vezina-calibre goaltender dropping into his lap was like finding water in the desert.

But Winnipeg’s performance waned with time, coinciding with a slowdown in Hellebuyck’s performance. What didn’t slow down was Maurice’s expected goal rates. What’s become a staple of Maurice teams is being aggressively outshot and outchanced – in fact, even during Winnipeg’s dominant 2017-18 season, the Jets finished just 11th in expected goals and 18th in shot differential.

Perhaps the sheer skill within the Florida lineup will combat the puck dominance issues Maurice teams have had over the years. There is no doubt that Maurice, when given the weaponry, has shown himself a capable coach.

We must acknowledge, though, there is a track record with Maurice’s teams. And to that end, Florida is gambling here. Brunette’s team led the league in both goal differential and expected goal differential.

Can Maurice replicate that? History suggests not, but Panthers GM Bill Zito is staking the franchise’s future on it. That sets up a riveting 2022-23 season in the Sunshine State.

Data via Natural Stat Trick,, Evolving Hockey, Hockey Reference