There have been three coaching changes in the NHL this week, four this season. And who can forget that dramatic shakeup in Montreal earlier this season when they fired the assistant coach? Message sent! Usually when a coach is fired the team looks to bring in a guy who has a contrasting coaching style. If they had a players coach they then look for a guy who isn’t considered a players coach. If they have a guy who utilises the trap they look for a guy who’ll get his team to open it up. It helps to disguise the fact that in the NHL sometimes change is needed for the sake of change.
Very often this works for the in the beginning until the players once again lose touch with the coaches message and revert to old habits. That is why this is not a good technique. What teams should be doing is looking for the absolute best coach available, not a guy who is simply different from the last guy there.
This is where I see a problem in Washington. I believe they made a move to Hunter because he is going to be a strong contrast to Boudreau. When the Caps were at their best, Boudreau was an easy-going laid back guy who developed relationships with his players and let them utilise their greatest talents. The biggest mistake he made was adjusting the teams style after losing to Montreal in the 2010 playoffs.
Montreal went into the playoffs as a decent team, but they utilised their players talents, defense first relying on great goaltending and counterattacks, to beat both Washington and Pittsburg. I didn’t see Pittsburg change their team philosophy after their loss. Let’s not forget Washington was out shooting Montreal by 30 shots a game. Halak was absolutely insane. Running into a hot goalie is not a reason to change your team dynamic if your one of the best teams in the league!
So the next season the Caps worked to become a defensive minded team in spite of the fact they had the most overpowering offensive weapons in the league. This move stunted the players skills and their enjoyment for the game. And that was one thing you used to hear back from players in Washington, how much fun they were having, what a great atmosphere it was for a player. You don’t hear that anymore. That’s the direction they should be heading in. Looking for a coach who can reinstall that sence of enjoyment and fun, not bring in a guy who is even more stifling than what Boudreau became. Dale Hunter might be a good coach, but I think he’s the wrong fit in Washington.