The Most Legendary Coaches in NHL History


The NHL is home to some of the most legendary coaches in history, both on and off the ice. Some of these coaches have coached for more years than others, and some even won a Stanley Cup.

Let’s take a look at the top five most renowned hockey coaches in nhl history. Vote for your favorite!

Punch Imlach

The Toronto Maple Leafs won four Stanley Cups during the 1960s under coach George ‘Punch’ Imlach. He was known as one of the toughest coaches in hockey, and he drove his players hard. He was also a master manipulator, threatening banishment to the minors and refusing to negotiate contracts until the start of training camp because he felt the players worked harder when they were less secure about their jobs.

His aggressive style of coaching also earned him a lot of hatred from some fans. But he was able to drive the Leafs to success, and his players loved him for it.

He was a flamboyant personality, a hockey legend and an excellent general manager. He mastered the evaluation, trading and drafting of talented players that made him one of the most successful coaches in NHL history.

In 1970, he took over the Buffalo Sabres as general manager and coach. He assembled a team filled with talent and entertainment that reached the playoffs in three seasons, and the Stanley Cup finals in five.

As the first head coach and general manager of the franchise, he used his innate hockey intelligence to build a team that was consistently good, a skill that would prove to be invaluable later on as the Sabres became more competitive. He drafted Gilbert Perreault in the amateur draft, and added veterans Roger Crozier, Dick Duff, Reg Fleming, Don Marshall and Tim Horton to his roster.

The Sabres’ success was largely due to the efforts of the man they called “Punch.” His hockey mind infused his team with talent and he built a winning team from the ground up, achieving a record of consistent success that many teams have fought to duplicate.

Bernie Geoffrion

Geoffrion, or “Boom Boom” as he was often known in Montreal, is widely considered the inventor of the slap shot. He was a right wing for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Atlanta Flames during his playing career.

During his time with the Canadiens, Geoffrion dominated the ice as a scoring threat with Maurice Richard and Jean Beliveau. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie in 1952, scoring 50 goals and 78 assists for 126 points.

A native of Montreal, he started skating behind a neighborhood church when he was 10 years old. After a few short years he began to improve his shooting ability and soon became one of the top goal scorers in the Quebec Junior Hockey League.

His talent and tenacity helped him to the NHL, where he had a successful professional career playing for the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers. He was named a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

He was a popular figure on the ice, as well as in the media. He was a natural performer and entertained the crowds with his jokes, jigs and songs. He was a fixture in nightclubs, hotel lobbies and railway coaches across the country.

After retiring as a player, Geoffrion served as the coach for the New York Rangers and Atlanta Flames. He was a popular coach with the fans, but also suffered from stomach problems that prevented him from coaching for long periods of time.

He died of stomach cancer in Atlanta on March 11, 2006, hours before the Canadiens retired his number 5. He is survived by his wife Marlene and three adult children. His grandson Blake Geoffrion currently plays for the Nashville Predators and Sebastian Geoffrion is a student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers.

Jacques Demers

The Montreal Canadiens may have only been a couple of weeks into Jacques Demers’ reign as head coach in 1992 but he was already envisioning the team hoisting the Stanley Cup. Despite being out of the NHL coaching ranks for two years, Demers wasn’t ready to give up on his dream.

A former Canadian Senator and broadcaster, Demers was also a professional ice hockey coach who spent more than 30 years in the World Hockey Association and National Hockey League. He coached the Quebec Nordiques, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning during his career.

During his time in the NHL, he was able to win several Jack Adams Awards as the best coach in the league. He is one of only five coaches in NHL history to win the award more than once.

His success was based on his ability to motivate both young and veteran players. He would get his players to work harder and harder to improve themselves.

He was also known for his fierce competitiveness and he hated losing. He was also very good at aligning himself with those who treated their games the same way, which was what helped him achieve his goals.

During his time in the NHL, Demers also had the chance to coach Wayne Gretzky and his son Mark. He was able to put them on the same line and it was quite impressive.

Ken Hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock is one of the best coaches in the NHL and is known for his strategic line formations. He is also a great communicator and has the ability to turn a team around. He has 823 coaching wins and is third on the all-time winning coach list.

He is a Canadian who has coached the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues. He has won the Stanley Cup with each of these teams and is a Hall of Fame coach.

His success began with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League in Canada. He then worked for the Philadelphia Flyers and Kalamazoo Wings before being offered the head coaching job with the Dallas Stars.

During his career, Hitchcock has compiled a 657-405-178 record in 1,240 regular season games and won the Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999. He has also won a Jack Adams award for his coaching abilities.

In recent years, he has lost weight and increased his physical activity. He has also been a great advocate for the sport of hockey and helps promote it to communities all over North America.

With his coaching career he has made an impact on every team that he has coached for whether it is the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, the Columbus Blue Jackets or the St. Louis Blues.

He has also won a Jack Adams award as the best coach in the NHL. He has also been a part of the 2014 Canadian Olympic team and won the gold medal for them.

He is a legend in the NHL and will be missed behind the bench. He has helped many franchises bring home their first and only Stanley Cup and will be a great loss. He will be remembered by his players and fans forever.

John Bowman

The Chicago Blackhawks resigned their president of hockey operations and general manager Stan Bowman on Tuesday after an investigation revealed they mishandled allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010. The NHL fined the Hawks $2 million for inadequate internal procedures.

Bowman coached the Detroit Red Wings to back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998, and he tied Toe Blake with eight Stanley Cups. His teams are among the best ever assembled, featuring a slew of future Hall-of-Famers.

He’s been the head coach of Canada’s men’s national ice hockey team twice, and has also coached at the college level. He’s been ranked as one of the top coaches in nhl history, and is No 7 on Sporting News’ list of 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time.

When Bowman was a kid, he dreamed of playing professional hockey. He started in the youth leagues and quickly advanced, coaching twelve- and thirteen-year-old players through junior B level before eventually becoming a head coach.

During his career, Bowman coached the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 2010, and also coached the Canadiens to the Cup twice. He also coached the Canada men’s national ice hockey team, winning gold and silver in their 1976 and 1981 Canada Cups.

His son Johnny Bowman, who was the WGA West’s chief negotiating committee during the 2007-08 writers strike, says his father died suddenly on New Year’s Eve at his home in Santa Monica.

Bowman was also a writer and producer, and was known for his work on In Living Color and Martin, as well as Saturday Night Live. He also worked on shows like Murphy Brown and The Hughleys.