A team is a reflection of its leadership, and that saying holds in the world of hockey coaches. There are many ways to rank a great coach, but our list consists of coaches who have led some of the top players throughout hockey history to championship after championship.
There is no argument about who the best hockey coach of all time is. Scotty Bowman wins, hands down. He’s coached the most games, won the most games, and held the coveted Stanley Cup high up in the sky the most times. Surprisingly, Bowman never played in the NHL, but he did coach many NHL teams over the course of his 30-season career, including the Sabres, Penguins, Blues, Canadiens, and Red Wings.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Miracle on Ice,” you know that the United States hockey team when on to defeat the Soviet Union hockey team at the 1980 Olympics in one of the most shocking sports victories of all time. He went on to coach several NHL teams and made a run at the gold again at the 1998 Olympics.
A coach that has won either the prestigious Jack Adams award or the Stanley Cup in his first year with a new team, every single time, deserves a spot on the Best Hockey Coaches of All Time list. Burns coached over 1,000 games, many of which were with the Montreal Canadiens. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame four years after his death in 2010.
Other notable coaches include Islanders coach Al Arbour, Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, Islanders coach Barry Trotz, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, Canadiens coach Toe Blake, Red Wings coach Jack Adams, and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette.
Many of these coaches have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Some have gone on to take on higher roles within the organizations, such as a General Manager or own a team. Some of the NHL’s best players have been coached by these phenomenal men, and likely owe a lot of their success to them.