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Buffalo Sabres Darcy Regier is one of four NHL general managers currently on the hot seat writes The Globe and Mail's David Shoalts. (file photo)

David Duprey/The Associated Press

There was a time when NHL general managers had job security, when they would hang around year after year despite continuing mediocrity.

Think George Maguire in Los Angeles or Baz Bastien in Pittsburgh. But the security disappeared when the big money arrived about 20 years ago and the stakes for making the playoffs got a lot higher.

This year, for example, the number of GMs fired could exceed the number of coaches. So far, the score is 2-2, with Brian Burke and Scott Howson losing their GM jobs with Toronto and Columbus, respectively, and coaches Lindy Ruff and Guy Boucher getting dusted by Buffalo and Tampa Bay.

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There are at least four GMs on the hot seat – Darcy Regier of the Sabres, Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers, Greg Sherman of the Colorado Avalanche and perhaps Jay Feaster of the Calgary Flames. Feaster is included here because his owner, Murray Edwards, is demanding a playoff spot next season or else.

Apparently, Edwards has not been looking closely at his roster. If a GM goes, it often means his coach is not far behind and that is true enough in Colorado, where Joe Sacco is getting equal blame for the collapse of that young team.

Regier already fired his coach but Ron Rolston only has the interim label so he's not expected to last the summer either.

The other obvious candidate for unemployment is Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette, who may take the fall for the organization's inability to find a goaltender. Phoenix GM Don Maloney and head coach Dave Tippett may also leave their jobs but that should be strictly by choice.

Neither one has signed a contract extension because they are said to want assurances about the franchise's future.

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