The NHL is not junior hockey.
As a coach, you can’t threaten to run the crap out of your team if they lose another game. These are grown men that are paid handsomely to play for your team (probably more than you’re earning), and you need them on your side. Your job is too fragile, and adults don’t take well to the motivational tactics used on teenagers.
That means that for an NHL coach, one of the biggest threats to your success is the guys getting too comfortable. Motivating players with multi-year deals and guaranteed spots on the top line (as the Anaheim Ducks have) isn’t an easy thing.
That’s what I’m chalking up the firing of Randy Carlyle to (and incidentally why giving coaches long contracts is never a great idea – who knows what day the team will reach its saturation point after hearing the same things for years). That team needed a spark, and needed it in a major way.
Well, nicely done: they found one in Bruce Boudreau.
Over his years in Washington, it’s likely that he’s learned two things: One, how to deal with top-end stars, and two, what style of coaching works best for him.
Boudreau is at his best when he’s just Bruce, and not the pull-out-all-the-stops disciplinarian he had tried to become in Washington to get his team going. He recognized that his team was too comfortable (a feat in itself), and, as he should, tried to shake things up.
But that’s not the coach he is, and he knows that. There was simply no bailing that boat out – as Daryl Reaugh tweeted the other day, you can’t start out as a teddy bear then try to pass yourself off as a grizzly to the same group of men. They ain’t buyin’ it.
Walking into a new room, Bruce should be able to take all his best ideas, and start fresh. He doesn’t need the bravado anymore, he just needs a team of players who’ll listen to him, and a few guys who’ll actually be trying to impress him. He hasn’t seen that in awhile.
But he does now, so things should start looking up for the Ducks, effective immediately.