Thursday, August 21, 2008

The short and long of coaches

Anaheim Ducks SVP of hockey operations Bob Murray, who played 15 years in the NHL, divides coaches into two general categories:

"There are coaches who are always on their players, always whipping. They tend to be short-term guys. Then there is the type that are more laid-back but know how to kick when they have to kick. They tend to last a lot longer."

This is probably true in a general sense, though it depends on the club's GM and team owner. It also depends on the team's roster and where the team is at the time.

What kind of coach is required for this team at this moment? Where's our talent level? Is it a veteran team or a young club? How much success has the team had over the last several seasons? Is it time to rebuild or are we close? Who would our guys respond to? Does this coach have the right temperament and personality for this team?

These are the kinds of questions that GMs and owners work through when hiring a coach.

Billy Martin and Dick Williams would likely be regarded as short-term guys in baseball. Martin and Williams were no-nonsense managers. But Earl Weaver was a my-way-or-the-highway kind of manager and he lasted almost 20 seasons with the Orioles.

In the NBA, Jerry Sloan is generally regarded as a no-nonsense coach and he's had incredible success over two decades with the Jazz.

The point is, labeling coaches can be tricky because there are so many variables involved.

As a side note, in addition to his role with the Ducks, Murray serves as GM of the club's minor league team in Iowa, which recently named Gord Dineen its head coach. Here's Coach Dineen's coaching philosophy:

"I like to put the players in a situation where they figure it out themselves. I think that's the best way to learn. I am going to give them structured guidelines and certainly a system which will be the Anaheim system to play ... but I want them to be able to think on their feet and go out there and react accordingly on the ice."