Coaching - Original 6 to Date

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Canadiens1958, Apr 30, 2011.

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  1. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    This thread will attempt to look at coaching as it has evolved or mutated from the onset of the original 6 era to date.

    The overall perception is that coaching today is much better. However when asked to qualify the perception most observers cannot. There may be a few comments thrown about regarding systems, game management and other generalities but specifics are lacking.

    Will start by making a key distinction. There is a huge difference between better coaching and appropriate coaching. Better is simply better whereas appropriate is either position or time specific. In today's NHL the head coach is surrounded by a variety of assistant coaches - offense, defense, goalie, video, etc. Each may be appropriate for the area of responsibility but is each well rounded or better than some of the older coaches that ran the team solo?

    To start I will look at two coaches from this season. Jacques Lemaire and Dan Bylsma.

    Jacques Lemaire came out of retirement to replace John McLean as head coach of a floundering Devils team. McLean had sufficient experience for the job - didn't simply fall off the zamboni, but the results were not there.Lemaire took over a team that was hopelessly out of the play-offs and with a bit of tinkering almost brought the team into the play-offs.He improved their offense and defense by focusing on the little things, proper body positioning on offense and defense, taking the proper angles and lanes on offense and defense,etc. Plus he brought his superior game management to the rink every game, striving to get the best possible match-ups every moment. Nothing revolutionary or out of the ordinary. Just basic coaching 101 done better than anyone else.

    Dan Bylsma. Coaches nightmare, two best players - Crosby and Malkin injured and lost for the second half of the season.Basically had to re-work the teams game and approach while threading water yet managed to compete and put his team in a position to have home ice advantage and a 3-1 lead in the opening round before another bright young coach, Guy Boucher, made the necessary adjustments.

    How would you rate their performances and how would you compare them to similar performances of great O6 coaches? Example Punch Imlach leading the 1959 Leafs to a surprise play-off spot, then the SC finals. Toe Blake at the start of the 1961-62 season without Doug Harvey and Jean Beliveau hurt, missing the first 27 games, keeping the Canadiens in a position to finish first.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011
  2. Stonefly

    Stonefly Registered User

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    Not surprised to see that none of "the new NHL is light years beyond anything that came before it" gum flappers have responded.
    It's just as you say, they can't qualify their claims. Would be nice if someone at least attempted it though.
     
  3. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Jacques Lemaire did a great job his year, but you indirectly hit on the reason why - coaching 101, the basics, something that John Maclean failed at. When Jacques took over, he remarked to the media after the very first game about how the entire team was gassed by the third period. In other words, the team was flat out out of shape. The also played with no structure on the ice. It took Lemaire exactly 1 day to send captain Langenbrunner (who had started to think he was bigger than the coach) packing, about two weeks to whip the team into shape and install discipline. Great coaching job, but magnified by the absolute failure of his predecessor to assert himself over the team.
     
  4. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    2009-10 Season

    Jacques Lemaire had the Devils in 2009-10 so he knew what the team's capabilities were and what their optimum playing weights were. Also had the impression that Langenbrunner had worn out his welcome with Lemaire previously.

    John MacLean, a long time Devils assistant before coaching the AHL farm team in 2009-10 was at a disadvantage. The time
    line had been interrupted and the make-up of the team had changed while he was away - Kovalchuk. Also long time assistants rarely step-up to become viable head coaches with the same organization. Dave Lewis being a prime example.
     
  5. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    You're correct about Langenbrunner. Lemaire supposedly refused to take over the job until Lou L promised to ship out Langs ASAP. Lemaire benches Langs his first game back, then he was traded for peanuts (a 3rd round pick). MacLean was thought to be too close in age and too close to the guys in the locker room from playing with some of them to make the necessary changes.

    Again, Lemaire did a great job, but the biggest difference was that MacLean could not coach at an NHL level, at least not a veteran team that would stand up to it's coach.
     
  6. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    Just throwing out some potential items for discussion when comparing current coaches to the rest:

    - In-game management of matchups

    - Increased consideration for shift timing

    - Increased complexity in line combinations

    - Use of video and other technology to scout other teams and one's own players

    - Management of off-ice player behavior, especially workout time and discipline

    - Relationship with media

    - Negotiating a locker room with massive disparities in pay rate and personal backgrounds

    - Expectation of being "on the job" 24 hours a day (ie, no such thing as a personal life)

    - Degree to which travel issues are a major part of the job description

    - Charisma in front of television cameras

    Obviously not all coaches have all of these things, but they are certainly on the checklist to varying degrees. Coaches now are a lot more than just coaches, they're industry professionals.
     
  7. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Two Factors

    Very true but there are two factors to consider.

    Bolded. Regardless of the era it still comes down to coach A being able to dictate to coach B how the game will be played. The pro-active coach will always have the edge on the re-active coach.

    The second factor which tends more to the remaining points you raised touches the structure of the team hierarchy from GM on down thru the coach thru to the lowest assistant.

    If the GM hires a coach who is not seen as a threat to his job who hires assistants who are not threats to the head coaching job then you will have a team that simply is not a threat.

    Just like a team has to have players from the bottom of the roster pushing those at the top, coaches have to be pushed by assistants and FMs have to be pushed by coaches for the team to excel.
     
  8. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    I believe the mechanics for accomplishing that goal have changed over time, largely due to the influence of Fred Shero, Scotty Bowman, Mike Keenan among others.

    I agree, and a lot of the change can be chalked up to change in general throughout pro sports. People at every level of the organization have added responsibility compared to those who went before them.
     
  9. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    John MacLean, to me, is a younger version of both Ossie Vitt and Vern Rapp. Vitt's adventures were in the early 1940s and Rapp in the mid 1970s, but they very closely parallel each other...longtime minor league manager who had great success (each with a team that could stake a claim to "the best minor league team ever"), who after many years finally got a crack at the highest league. Both lasted a very short period of time, after managing to do nothing except alienate several key players and provoke a player rebellion.

    I am doing a study of sorts on coaching success versus expectations, expressed on a career basis and on a per-82 basis. I keep getting chunks put together, then shelving it....maybe I'll finish up soon and post it.
     
  10. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Student / Mentor

    Student mentor relationships in coaching when opposing each other,Day/Irvin, Primeau/Irvin, Bowman/Blake, Lemaire / Bowman, the student usually does very well especially if the student played for the coach he has a distinct advantage at many levels - situations, strategy, players, etc.

    You mention Shero,Bowman and Keenan. Were all better coaches at the end of their career than at the beginning or first half of their careers? Or one improved throughout, one flat lined and one lost ground?

    You mention mechanics. There are certain basics of coaching time management that do not change.Do not get caught with your rookies and/or third liners in the last two minutes. Yet experienced coaches - Jacques Martin, still get caught.

    Every level of the organization. Not sure about the added responsibility. Responsibility does get fragmented or shared. Organizations are not as vertical as they used to be. Sharing the farm club with another or allowing the farm club some autonomy is asking for problems - see Atlanta with their AHL situation. Once things start getting fragmented people tend to protect their niche becoming concerned with keeping their job as opposed to doing what is necessary to succeed.
     

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