Stewart: on being a solid coach

When I was a young kid playing hockey in a minor league you had to play house league all winter and then they picked an all-star team to represent the town. I was sitting with two friends in the Smiths Falls arena and we decided that since we were picked for the all-star team three years in a row, we should give serious consideration to playing hockey in the NHL. Sounds kind of silly when you think about what three young boys will think about. The boy from Smiths Falls was Don McKenny and he became the scoring leader when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The other boy was Floyd Smith and he was a standout player for Detroit Red Wings. Those who know me understand my history. None of us never ever needed a coach to motivate us to play with all the strength we had.

Lately we have heard and read about how one coach was fired and suddenly all coaches are under scrutiny because of a ten-year-old story of racial abuse without knowing the whole story. As one coach was sacrificed then it seems all coaches have a history. I am certain this comes from people who have no idea what it takes to be a good coach

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There is always pressure for a coach to make his team winners from all sorts of society and the same is true of an NHL coach. I was asked just the other day if I would like to be a coach in the NHL and I was quick to say NO! You would have pressure from the general manager, owners and the press not to mention the fans to win at all costs. 

I have heard some say the coach failed to motivate his NHL players and to that I just laugh out loud. Players who are paid into the millions to play hockey should never need to be motivated. I am sure you have heard some say that coach is a player’s coach and I guess that means the players really like the coach. Coaches are not meant to be liked they are to be obeyed and to be the teachers so owners can brag at social events. To be effective a coach must be an authority and a teacher. Meanest coach I ever had was Claude Ruel and I learned so much from him and he was also one of my best coaches.

So, the next time people are ready to toss a coach out on the scrap hill just remember to find out the whole story before you judge the coach on the say-so of someone else. Things are seldom what they seem, and I am living proof of that. So, all in all a player who doesn’t do as he is asked is and does it often is really in breach of contract. However, making that go forward would be a fool’s game so the coach becomes the fall guy.

Making decisions based on gossip is negative living - and that is how I see it.


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