Hurricanes don't need to rush in coaching search
Posted May 21
The Carolina Hurricanes are still searching for a head coach. But there is not an immediate need to fill the position, seeing as the hockey season is not over and there are several candidates still working.
“The process will take as long as it needs to get it right,” Hurricanes General Manager Ron Francis said. “[The new coach] has to be a good communicator, with the ability to teach and hold the guys accountable for their play.”
It’s more than just the right head coach for Francis, as the total coaching staff comes under scrutiny, from how the power play is run to how the goalie coach interacts with his charges. Francis says it will be the head coach who selects that assisting cast.
After spending time behind the Carolina bench as an assistant to Paul Maurice, Francis also knows that the role of not just the head coach, but the assistants, is important. There are times when the voice in a locker room has to be clear, but the assistants serve an equally important role in getting messages across.
“There are times when the message has to come from the head coach, where he is the one that talks to the room, but there are those times that the assistants act as buffers at times between the players and head coach,” Francis said.
The Hurricanes already have one assistant on the job in Rod Brind’Amour. He knows the team, which will be an asset for the new head coach, and more important, already has the respect of the players in the locker room. His words will go a long way and while the role is still yet to be determined, having an assistant that can get through to the team is something every NHL team has to have.
Certainly the guy behind the bench is a big deal in today’s NHL, but it is the assistant coaches that run the power play and penalty kill – which Hurricane fans know too well has to be better than average to be a playoff team.
I’ve seen firsthand how the right assistant coach can make all the difference when I was working for a NHL coaching staff. I remember the great work put in by goalie coach Mitch Korn. Not only did Korn tutor one of the best ever in Dominik Hasek, he had the understudy ready when injury struck Hasek in the post-season and the team was forced to turn to Steve Shields.
Shields was prepared to play thanks to his position coach and the team won the first round series without its top goaltender.
Look at the success first year NHL head coach Patrick Roy had in Colorado. He’ll tell you his assistants had as much to do with the turnaround as he did. Roy tabbed his old goalie coach François Allair to work with his netminders which paid huge dividends and the Avalanche saw the power play and penalty kill improve drastically thanks to the work of Tim Army and Andre Tourigny.
When a coach trusts his assistants to take care of the details, the bigger picture is easier to put together.
Whoever Ron Francis chooses to be the head coach will make the headlines but who the head coach chooses to help him will make the team better.
The NHL Playoffs have gotten down to the final four. The East has a surprise final with the Canadiens and Rangers ousting the favored Bruins and Penguins, respectively.
The big talk of the eastern conference is that Montreal goalie Carey Price was taken out of the series by Chris Kreider, when he fell into Price. This has been a common occurrence all season long, players with a full head of steam tumbling into the goalie.
It was a matter of time before a serious injury hit a top goalie with that kind of play, but what happened here didn’t look intentional, unlike those in Montreal may have you think. It is a product of how the game is played today.
Players have to go to the net hard and hope to get a rebound. The game is played at such a fast tempo, that it is irrational to think Kreider went into that game thinking if he had a breakaway he was going to crash into Price to take him out.
Without Price, the Habs chances are slim to come back from down 2-0. Especially with Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at the top of his game, New York might be impossible to beat. Montreal has to find a way to score more than two goals because the Rangers not only have one of the best at stopping the puck, they have also found a power play in time to give him leads that seem insurmountable. The Rangers should wrap this up quickly.
Out west, the defending champions Blackhawks are still alive, taking on the resilient L.A. Kings.
This series should go seven games – OK, I am hoping this series goes seven games. Chicago is one of the best teams to watch and the Kings have added offense to go with a stingy defensive game plan. It might come down to which team breaks the other’s serve at home that goes on to play for the Cup.
The say defense wins championships and the Kings have a ton, but the Hawks might have too much clutch scoring to be stopped. Chicago in seven.