Barry Trotz took the Washington Capitals to a place no other coach could, as he led them to their first Stanley Cup title on June 7. But Trotz resigned as coach of the Capitals on Monday. On Thursday, he was hired by the New York Islanders. For three days, he was a hot commodity in the hockey-coaching world. Here's an assortment of other top coaches who suddenly resigned or were fired while near the top of their game.
After 15 successful seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers in which he led them to 149 regular-season wins, eight division titles, two Super Bowl appearances and the Super Bowl XL championship, Cowher stepped down as the Steelers' coach following the 2006 season. While Cowher has resisted the call to leave the "NFL Today" studios to return to the sideline, he was a prime name in the rumor mill -- both at the NFL and college levels -- for several years after leaving Pittsburgh. With Jon Gruden heading to the Oakland Raiders, Cowher is officially the most choosy "free agent."
"Chucky" was actually the subject of a trade as a coach, being dealt from the Raiders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the 2002 season. He led the Bucs to the Super Bowl (over those same Raiders) that season, the highlight of a career that saw him win 95 games and five division titles in 11 seasons before being fired after the 2008 season. The next decade saw Gruden become a common name in pro and college rumor mills. He resisted the urge for nine years, serving as the analyst on Monday Night Football before rejoining the Raiders in January.
After leading the University of Miami to a national championship in 1987, Johnson rebuilt the Dallas Cowboys, taking them from 1-15 to back-to-back Super Bowl championships over the course of five seasons. However, Johnson and owner/GM Jerry Jones agreed to go their separate ways after their Super Bowl XXVIII title. Johnson left the Cowboys and ended up working as a TV analyst for two years before taking over as coach of the Miami Dolphins in 1996. After coaching Miami for four seasons, Johnson returned to the TV studio, where he still works today.
Kelly led Oregon to BCS games in each of his four seasons as head coach from 2009 to 2012, prompting interest from numerous NFL teams, including the Buccaneers, Patriots, Bills, Browns and Eagles. Kelly ended up accepting Philadelphia's offer and was the Eagles' head coach from 2013 to 2015. After being fired by the Eagles, Kelly coached the 49ers for a season before spending a season as a TV analyst. After rumors floated around about where Kelly would land, he signed a deal to return to college and become the head coach at UCLA.
Meyer has been a hot commodity since becoming the head coach at Bowling Green in 2001, as he quickly turned around BG and Utah before becoming a two-time national championship-winning head coach at Florida. After almost resigning in 2009, Meyer stepped away from the Gators after the 2010 season due to burnout. He spent the 2011 season in the television booth, while Penn State and Ohio State sought his services. He chose the Buckeyes, where he's won two Big Ten championships, made the College Football Playoff twice and won the 2014 national title.
After coaching the Giants from 1983 to 1990 and leading them to two Super Bowl titles, Parcells retired from football due to health problems. He returned as head coach of the Patriots in 1993, leading them to Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season. Parcells left for the Jets and put together another turnaround before retiring again. This time, Parcells came out of retirement to coach the Cowboys from 2003 to 2006 and became the first coach in NFL history to take four teams to the playoffs. Parcells retired from coaching once more and became executive vice president of football operations for the Miami Dolphins until 2010. There were rumors of a potential return to coaching when Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season; however, Parcells decided against a return.
While known as the quintessential job jumper, Brown has had some brief forays with free agency. The only coach to win an NCAA title (Kansas, 1988) and NBA title (Detroit Pistons, 2004), he was released from his contract with the Pistons after the 2005 NBA season due to him flirting with other teams. He signed with the Knicks immediately after for five years, only to bolt after one. He signed with the Charlotte Bobcats (his ninth NBA team) after a year off in 2008 and went to SMU in 2012 (his third college job) after a year break from his Charlotte stint. He's now retired, but you never know with Brown.
After a successful stint at UMass, Calipari went to the NBA to coach the Nets from 1996 to 1999. He became a quasi-free agent after that, serving as an assistant for the 76ers before returning to the head-coaching ranks -- and the college game -- with Memphis in 2000. He would go on to become the Tigers' all-time winningest coach. In 2009, Calipari agreed to become the head coach at Kentucky, where he has gone on to reach the national title game twice, winning the championship in the 2011-12 season. Calipari has long been rumored for NBA jobs, which continues to this day.
After winning six NBA championships with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls from 1989 to 1998, Jackson left the team and vowed never to coach again. However, after a year off, he would return to coaching and lead the Lakers to three straight championships from 2000 to 2002. After some controversy between Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, the Lakers announced in 2004 that Jackson would not return. However, after a year off, Jackson would return to coach the Lakers and lead them to two more titles in 2009 and 2010. Jackson rebuffed another stint with the Lakers before accepting a job as president of the Knicks.
Riley ushered in the "Showtime" era with the Lakers and led them to four championships. At the time of his departure from the Lakers in 1990, Riley was considered the top coach in the NBA. After a year in broadcasting, Riley would join the Knicks and take them to the Finals in 1994. In 1995, Riley resigned to join the Miami Heat as head coach and team president. The Knicks accused the Heat of tampering in their quest to lure Riley away. Riley would add a fifth NBA title to his resume with the Heat's win in the 2006 Finals, and Miami won two more in 2012 and 2013 with Riley as team president.
Baker managed the San Francisco Giants from 1993 to 2002, earning National League Manager of the Year honors in his first year on the job and also in 1997 and 2000. He led the Giants to the World Series in 2002 but his contract was not renewed. The Cubs immediately hired him and saw dividends early, as Baker guided them to their first division title in 14 years but ultimately failed to renew his contract after the 2006 season. He then managed Cincinnati from 2008 to 2013 and led the Reds to their first playoff appearance in 15 years. Baker's most recent managerial position was with the Nationals from 2016 to 2017. Washington won the NL East both seasons but fell in the National League Division Series.
After a forgettable stint with the Phillies in the late 90s, Francona became one of the hottest managers in the game when he led the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series championship (breaking "The Curse of the Bambino") and to another title in 2007. He parted ways with the Red Sox after the 2011 season and spent 2012 in TV while other MLB teams plotted to get him back in the dugout. The Indians were able to convince "Tito" to rescind his free agency, and he's led Cleveland to three playoff berths, two American League Central titles and a World Series berth in 2016.
Tony La Russa
La Russa began his managerial career with the White Sox from 1979 to 1986, earning AL Manager of the Year honors in 1983. The White Sox fired La Russa after a slow start in 1986, but it was less than three weeks before the Oakland A's called him to become their manager. La Russa guided the A's to three straight World Series from 1988 to 1990, winning it all in 1989. He left Oakland after the 1995 season and went on to manage St. Louis from 1996 to 2011, leading the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.
Leyland was manager of the Pirates from 1986 to 1996, winning NL Manager of the Year in 1990 and 1992. He led the Pirates to the National League Championship Series in 1990, 1991 and 1992. He took over the Marlins in 1997 and led them to their first championship. He spent one more season there and one in Colorado before leaving managing. After several years of "free agency," he returned to managing in 2006, leading the Tigers from 2006 to 2013. Leyland became the seventh manager to win pennants in both leagues when Detroit won the American League in 2006. He led Detroit to another AL title in 2012.
Showalter managed the Yankees from 1992 to 1995 and the team made the playoffs in 1995 for the first time since 1981. Showalter ended up leaving but is credited with helping build the teams that won four World Series titles between 1996 and 2000. The Diamondbacks hired Showalter in 1996, two years before they were scheduled to begin playing. He led them to the NL West title in 1999 but was fired after the 2000 season. He later managed the Rangers from 2003 to 2006 and the Orioles from 2010 to the present after spending time on TV. In 2012, he led Baltimore to its first postseason appearance since 1997, and in 2014, the Orioles won their first AL East title in 17 years.
After up-and-down managerial stints with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals, Torre became the toast of New York, leading the Yankees to 12 consecutive playoff berths, six World Series appearances and four World Series titles from 1996 to 2007. So the Dodgers jumped quickly when Torre resigned from the Yankees, making him their manager two weeks after he left the Bronx. He led the Dodgers to the NLCS in his first two seasons before retiring after the 2010 season to become MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations.
Bowman took over the Blues in 1967 and led them to the Stanley Cup Final in each of their first three years in the league. After a dispute with ownership, Bowman went on to coach the Canadiens. Montreal won five Cups under Bowman, including four straight from 1975 to 1979. After being passed over to be the team's general manager, Bowman stepped down in 1979 and joined the Sabres as coach/GM. He was fired during the 1986-87 season but would take over as the Penguins' coach in the 1991-92 season. Pittsburgh won the Cup that season, but Bowman would leave a year later after not showing interest in a long-term offer from the team. Bowman then would head to Detroit, where he won three more Stanley Cups, including the championship in his final season on the bench.
Keenan had varied success during his many stops in the NHL, but he never coached a team for more than four years, entering coaching free agency multiple times. Keenan bounced from the Flyers (four years) to the Blackhawks (four years), Rangers (one year), Blues (three years), Canucks (two years), Bruins (one year), Panthers (three years) and Flames (two years) and had several confrontations with players and front offices along the way. Keenan was dismissed from the Flyers a year after leading them to the 1987 Stanley Cup Final, and after taking the Blackhawks to the 1992 Final was forced to focus solely on his general manager duties and later resigned. He won the Cup with the Rangers in his first year but struggled to coexist with GM Neil Smith and resigned after one season.
Ancelotti has had stops with Reggiana, Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and now heads Napoli. The quality of the clubs he's led demonstrates his allure in the soccer world, as he kept getting premier jobs after resigning or being fired. He has won the Champions League on three different occasions. Ancelotti won the Premier League and FA Cup double in his first season in English football and has won major trophies in England, Italy, France, Spain and Germany, including league championships in four of those countries.
After a successful playing career for Juventus and Italy, Conte's innovative style of coaching has made him a hot commodity in European soccer. After leading both Bari and Siena from Serie B into Serie A, Conte moved on to Juventus, where he won three consecutive Serie A titles from 2012 to 2014 before resigning. The Italian national team quickly acquired his services, as he coached the Azzurri in the 2016 Euros before resigning. Chelsea snapped him up quickly, and Conte led the Blues from a 10th-place in 2015-16 to the 2016-17 Premier League title in his first year.
One of the top players of his era, Guardiola has become one of the most successful managers in the sport, winning 26 major titles. After leading Barcelona to three La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns from 2008 to 2012, Guardiola left the club in June 2012. Six months later, he was signed by Bayern Munich, which he led to three straight Bundesliga championships in his three seasons with the club. His roll has continued with Manchester City the past two seasons, including winning the Premier League in 2018.
Mourinho's combination of defensive tactical genius and colorful personality has helped him to great success but also has contributed to his frequent free agency, as he's had run-ins with ownership and is known for having a wandering eye. He's been the head man for top European sides such as Porto, Chelsea (twice), Internazionale, Real Madrid and now Manchester United. Mourinho has led his clubs to eight league titles, two Champions League crowns (Porto in 2003 and Internazionale in 2010) and a Europa League title with Man United in 2017.
Louis van Gaal
Similar to Mourinho in that he combined tactical acumen with a personality that was a bit of a turnoff at times. Van Gaal, who was actually knighted, won seven domestic league titles with Ajax, Barcelona, AZ, Bayern Munich and Manchester United and led Ajax to the 1995 Champions League title. He also served two stints as the head of the Netherlands national team. The second, which came about after he was sacked by Bayern, saw him lead the Netherlands to third place in the 2014 World Cup.
Zidane, who was heralded as one of the top players of his era, became arguably the top coach in the world in a short time. Zidane has led Real Madrid to three straight Champions League titles, becoming the first coach in history to achieve that feat. He also captured a La Liga crown and both the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup twice after taking over Real Madrid in 2016. But now Zidane is available after resigning just days after his latest Champions League triumph.