Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Coaching Carousel

After Tom Renney was fired Tuesday and replaced with John Tortorella, all of the coaches who took their teams to start the season in Europe have all been fired. Renney, Michel Terrien, Barry Melrose and Craig Hartsburg were all fired and along with Dennis Savard who was ousted 5 games into the season in Chicago, five coaches have been fired before the season is even finished.

Tom Renney: He was canned mostly because of Glen Sather’s continued poor draft performance and his reliance on signing over-rated or past their prime free agents. Wade Redden(6.5 million cap hit for another 4 seasons), Chris Drury(6.8 million cap hit for another 3 seasons), Markus Naslund(4 million cap hit for another season), Scott Gomez(7.8 million cap hit for 5 more seasons) and Micheal Rozival(5 million cap hit for 3 more seasons) were all grossly overpaid and are therefore underachieving compared to what they’re being paid. Frankly Sather’s mistakes are the biggest problem in NYC although Renney’s trap style didn’t help. He was replaced by Tortorella who won a Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay, and while Renney was known as a lenient players coach Torts is a hard ass who won’t hesitate to call out his players; also he’ll be employing a harder forechecking style that may suit the Rangers a little better.

Michel Terrien: This was a firing that was coming for a few months. Terrien had lost the dressing room through various actions including multiple public beratings and trying to barge into a players only meeting. He’s coaching style eventually grates on players. GM Rey Shero’s offseason moves didn’t help either. He put all his eggs into the Marian Hossa basket and lost players like Ryan Malone and Colby Armstrong because of it. Dan Bylsma took over a few weeks ago but unfortunately some of the same inconsistencies continue to plague the Penguins: no secondary scoring, iffy goaltending at best and weak defence. I’m not sure Bylsma will be back next season, especially if the Pens don’t make the playoffs.

Barry Melrose: What a colossal screw up this was. Melrose hadn’t coached in 13 years and was completely out of touch with the game, had a bad relationship with the management that hired him, he alienated his best players and treated 1rst overall pick Steven Stamkos with distain and had no time for this young player. All this culminated with his firing back in November. Rick Tocchet replaced him behind the bench and has done a good job with the team he has. Their #1 goaltender is out with a concussion, they traded away one of the best defenseman in the league in Dan Boyle and replaced him with Matt Carle(traded to Philly a couple months after) and Andrej Meszaros and that really blew up in their faces as they can’t move the puck up the ice. And a lack of secondary scoring beyond Lecavalier, St.Louis and Malone is also a factor.

Craig Hartsburg: I feel bad for Hartsburg. He inherited a shallow team with only three forwards who can score but who also happen to make all the money. They didn’t have any defensemen who could make a pass out of their own end and once again bad goaltending was a bane to this team. Once again management’s mistakes cost the coach. Cory Clouston has since taken over and while the team had a brief surge but have since come back down to earth. Brian Murray has since made a deal to get Mike Comrie(who’s expressed an interest in re-singing long term) and Chris Campoli, a young puck moving defensemen they lost with Meszaros. I have no clue what erratic, meddling owner Eugene Melnyk will do this offseason.

Dennis Savard: More of a motivator then an X’s and O’s guy, the new ownership and management group weren’t big fans of his and he rubbed some of his veterans the wrong way. So they brought in an experienced and very good coach in Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks haven’t looked back, becoming one of the elite four teams in the western conference. While I believe that Savard got a raw deal you can’t argue with results which Quenneville has gotten from his charges.

Other coach’s that may be on the chopping block after this season:

-Craig McTavish(Edmonton): If they don’t make the playoffs they may at least consider it for a change.
-Andy Murray(St.Louis): Injuries have decimated this team but they haven’t achieved what they thought they would this season and usually the coach get’s the blame.
-Alain Vigneault(Vancouver): Isn’t Mike Gillis’s hire and if they don’t make the playoffs he becomes a probable fire.
-Wayne Gretzky(Phoenix): While I don’t think he’ll get fired, he may resign given the sad state of the Coyotes.
-Also Craig Anderson(Atlanta), Tony Granato(Colorado) and Scott Gordon(NYI) are all possibilities just because these teams just suck, and in the case of Gordon and Anderson their franchises are just plain sad.

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