Top Five NHL Coaches of All-Time

Top Five NHL Coaches of All-Time

The Stanley Cup Playoffs is a time where coaches have the chance to display some of their best knowledge and strategies of the game.

Here is my order to the Top 5 Coaches in NHL History.

5. Al Arbour:

1971-73 St. Louis; 1974-86 Islanders; 1989-94 Islanders

arbour cup chatsports.jpg

Over the course of his career, Arbour coached 1,607 games, recording 782 wins, won 4 consecutive Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders from 1980-83, and won the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year in 1979.

arbour bench si.jpg

Arbour’s teams made the playoffs 17 times. Twice with the Blues, and the rest with the Islanders. He was also in the Stanley Cup Finals 5 times.

In 2008 Arbour coached 1 game with the Islanders so he could officially have coached 1,500 games with the organization.

4. Punch Imlach:

1959-69 Toronto; 1971-72 Buffalo; 1980 Toronto


Besides having an amazing first name, Imlach coached 889 games, recording 402 wins, and made the Stanley Cup Finals 6 times in 11 playoff appearances.

Imlach was able to win a Stanley Cup in 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1967.

Sadly, 1967 was the last time Toronto won a Stanley Cup.

3. Glen Sather:

1977-89 Edmonton; 1994 Edmonton; 2003-04 New York Rangers


Head coach of the Oilers before they were even in the NHL, Glen Sather was able to transition a team full of young stars from the WHA to the NHL, along with bringing Stanley Cups to Edmonton in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988.

Sather did lose in the Stanley Cup Finals once, however that was to the New York Islanders for their fourth consecutive cup.

The Oilers would bounce back and win the next four out of five.

In addition to Stanley Cups, Sather coached a total of 932 games, recorded 497 wins, and won the Jack Adams Award in 1986.

Personally, I think the only thing Sather has against him is the fact that his Oilers’ teams were full of Hall of Famers, so how much can a coach really go wrong with all that talent? It’s a fair question to ask.

On the flip side of thay, Sather took that team under his wing and brought them into the NHL, and was able to create Stanley Cup Champions.


2. Toe Blake:

1956-68 Montreal Canadiens


Coaching just for the Montreal Canadiens, Toe Blake coached 914 games, earning 500 wins and 13 playoff appearances.

Blake and his Canadiens went to 9 Stanley Cup Finals, winning in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, and 1968, for a total of 8 Stanley Cups.

Yes, there may have been only six teams in the NHL at this time, 8 out of 9 years is still very impressive to win the Stanley Cup.

1. Scotty Bowman:

1968-71 St. Louis; 1972-1979 Montreal; 1980-87 Buffalo; 1992-93 Pittsburgh; 1994-2002 Detroit

To put it simply, Bowman’s numbers as a coach are unbelievable.

Scotty Bowman coached 2,164 games, winning 1,248, and appeared in 28 playoffs.

Bowman’s teams also appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals 13 times, winning 9 of them.

In his time with St. Louis, Bowman was able to make it to the playoffs 4 times, where his teams would lose in the finals 3 times.

bowman mtl

Coaching Montreal in the 70s, Bowman’s Canadiens were able to win 5 Stanley Cups (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979), in 8 playoff appearances.

In Buffalo, Bowman was able to make 5 playoff appearances, but did not win a Stanley Cup.

Bowman coached the Penguins for 2 seasons, making the playoffs both years and winning the Stanley Cup once.

In his last stop at Detroit, Bowman’s teams made the playoffs all 9 seasons, and won 3 Stanley Cups in 1996, 1997, and 2002.

scotty bowman 2022

No. I am not finished.

In 1977 with Montreal, and 1996 with Detroit, Bowman also won the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year.

Although there can be numerous different lists drawn up, I do not think it is debatable that Scotty Bowman is the greatest NHL coach of all-time.

Photo Source:


Scotty Bowman Montreal:

Scotty Bowman Stanley Cup: www.

Toe Blake:

Toe Blake Stanley Cup:

Al Arbour Bench:

Al Arbour Stanley Cup:

Glen Sather Awards:

Glen Sather Edmonton:

Punch Imlach Stanley Cup:

Punch Imlach Bench:








Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: