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Oh Captain, No Captain

March 29, 2010 11 comments

This stems from a conversation I had on Twitter with RossCreek of FlamesNation the other day after the rumor of King, Sutter and Sutter being fired in lieu of Nicholson, Yzerman and coach to be later named surfaced on CBC. (Random aside: to me CBC is Cambridge Brewing Company, a crappy brew bar in Cambridge. Canadians tell me it’s a TV station.  Looks like CBS is getting pirated on the *puts sunglasses on* high Cs. YEEEAAAAAAHHHH)

Annnnnyways, we started discussing coaching styles, and whether Brent’s coaching was the problem.  As I mentioned in my last snark filled post, I’m not entirely sure the bizarre decisions are his fault one way or another, but those are not the coaching we’re referring to.  We’re referring to the “hardass I’m a dinosaur and probably fat also my name is Ken Hitchcock” coach vs. the “fun light-hearted cuddly bunny” coach.

RossCreek was saying it’s time for a change in styles to a softie, since clearly Keenan and Sutter aren’t getting through to the team.  I am thoroughly of the opinion that at the end of the day, it shouldn’t make a difference.  Why? 

  1. These are grown men.  I can understand you’ll want a more “fun” coach on a really young team (like the St. Louis Blues or NY Islanders), but on a team like Calgary where the age skew is closer to 30 than 20, it shouldn’t matter. The team should be able to be professional, show up, work hard, play the game hard, and go home.  They’re not kids growing up still.  This is not their first rodeo.
  2. The coach shouldn’t fit a mold.  He should adapt.  And I think Brent has done that.  There’s been times where he’s yelled, there’s been times where they’ve had a fun day in Toronto.  But the key is never rewarding mediocrity.  If things are just going poorly with bad bounces, take their minds off the game.  But don’t give them fun times for just being apathetic.  And Brent hasn’t done that.  I mean, could you be a fluffy bunny coach if your team gave up five goals to goddamn Boston?
  3. The problem is a lack of effort, not skill nor understanding of the game. The players skate around listlessly, except for the odd game or period where someone reminds them that effort is involved.  A coach can only do so much leadership since he’s in a suit behind the bench.  Real leadership comes from the players.  The number of times this year I’ve seen Iggy skate bored around a scrum with Calgary players getting roughed up is ridiculous.  If you wear the C, you are the leadership on the team.  You are the heart, soul, and backbone of the time.  If you don’t have the drive, the passion, and the integrity, take it off.  This is my main point, let me expound:

I’ve mentioned before that I played high level volleyball (AA and AAA) when I was younger, and provided my hand recovers, I’ll hopefully get back to it.  My experience with the coach was not that he was our leader.  He taught us, yes.  Corrected my form when digging, or laying out for a pancake.  But he didn’t make me play harder because of what he said or did.  He was there to coach, not lead. 
I wasn’t the leader either, being good enough to be scouted doesn’t mean I was a natural leader in addition to a natural libero.  No, an outside hitter was our captain, and he was a damn good one.  He wasn’t the best player in the game, or at his position, or even at his particular strengths.  But he knew when to yell at us, when to give us a pat on the back, and when to applaud us.  He played with his heart, and made us want to. 

My point is, leadership didn’t come from the coach, or the best player.  It came from the best leader.  Right now, I don’t see Iggy as the best leader on the ice.  I hardly see any players worthy of being called a leader on the Flames based on their presence off and on the ice except for maybe Great American Eric Nystrom. 

Maybe it’s time to take the C away. Whether we give it to someone more worthy right away, or hold on to it until someone truly steps up (a la Sharks this year), I don’t know. But to me, the coaching is not the problem. The lack of on-ice leadership is.  I love Iggy, I do. But if he can’t play heart and soul anymore, find someone who can and will.

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