Both the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals both gave thanks to their head coaches’ for the dismal start to the 2011-12 season by replacing them on Monday. Dale Hunter is stepping in for Bruce Boudreau, and Kirk Muller will step in for Paul Maurice down in Carolina.
The thing that amazed me the most out of Monday’s events was that it seemed almost instantly after those two firings; rumors began that Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel would be next on the list of people to lose their job. Thanks to @Cujoerulesdtown (writer on www.crimespreehockey.com) for being the first to shed light regarding people who were speculating Arniel would be out the door next.
A fitting storyline considering the Blue Jackets are 30th in the National Hockey League, but why are coaches really fired?
If it was strictly on a win/loss basis one would think Boudreau, who’s Capitals were sitting second in their division and tied for eighth in the conference, might have had a little more job security regardless of the team being 3-6-1 in the last 10.
The common denominator is belief. Like most things in life, if you do not believe in what you are doing, you will not devote 100% effort all the time. An argument that could be used in reasons why franchise players such as Alexander Ovechkin or Eric Staal have under produced so far this season.
When players stop believing in a coaches “brand,” the effort starts to lack and productivity will eventually decrease. Key role players stop producing, chemistry starts to change and eventually, more often than not, teams start losing. Once a team starts losing, general management starts to lose beleif in the coach as well.
So what makes Columbus different with their below .500 record? The players still believe…
Despite starting off the season 1-8-1, the Blue Jacket players are still buying into the “brand” of hockey Arniel wants them to play. Each night, all 18 skaters come to the rink to work, bringing a tenacious high-intensity brand of hockey that is hard on the fore check. Thanks to consistent goaltending from Curtis Sanford, and an almost complete and healthy Blue Jackets roster, the Blue Jackets are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games.
In today’s NHL, players can’t afford to give less than a hundred percent. There is so much talent in the game today that the minute a player let’s up, they are exposed. Laziness, lack of motivation, or even sheer spite – whatever you want to use as a reason; if one player struggles the team pays the sacrifice. But you can’t fire an entire team so ultimately the coach will pay the price.
Despite what people might think, Arniel will not be fired this season on the simple fact that the team still believes in both Arniel and his “brand.” The Blue Jackets although down are not out of the playoff race in the Western conference, partially thanks to how ridiculously tight the standings are right now with only three points separating 3rd through 11th place.
If I am wrong, all "I told you so" messages are welcome. Feel free to send your comments to @Kelly_OIH. After all, everyone's a critic.