Georgian Bay Sports Fan

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Category Archives: NHL Hockey

The Buds are (not ) Alright….

imagesThe recent firing of Maple Leaf Head Coach Randy Carlyle is, and isn’t, much of a surprise.

It’s not a surprise because the  Blue and While juggernaut consisting of player, coaches, management, fans, shareholders, corporations, commentators, analysts, newspaper, radio, etc … demands 24/7 attention much like a child.  And as an overindulgent parent the child gets what they want by being extra whiny.

It is a surprise because from a hockey perspective Carlyle did a fine job and wasn’t deserving of this treatment, but let’s not let not get reality get in the way of the Maple Leafs progress…or lack of.

A coach’s job is fairly simple.  With deference to every couch sitting Saturday night coach-wannabee, line combinations and sitting players is not the focus of the professional coach.  A coaches job is to deal with the players put in front of him by the GM.  The coaching strategy he employs, from game systems to motivational tactics, are based on the personnel he has been given.

Yesterday’s coaches like Mike Keenan don’t work in today’s game, they have a single coaching style that doesn’t adapt well to players that can’t or won’t play the way they want.  Ken Hitchcock understood that his coaching methodology had to adapt to the team put in front of him, he went from a “hard ass” to a master of communication in his development into one of the finest coaches the NHL will ever see.  Roger Neilson knew this and called it situational coaching.

So the question becomes for Randy Carlyle, did he have the personnel in front of him to be successful and he couldn’t manage them….or did he have an inferior level of talent and was doomed to fail ?  In the first case he deserved to be let go, in the second GM Shanahan (uh yes, not front man Nonis) is squarely to blame by making him a scapegoat for years of poor management decisions.

Let’s look at what Carlyle had to play with compared to a truly elite team, the Chicago Blackhawks and value their worth out of 10.  5 is an average NHL quality player, probably 3rd or 4th line on a decent team.  7 is a good NHL player with nice upside.  9 is an elite player on any team.  10 is Wayne Gretzky quality.



Winnik                  5                              Bozak                    6                     Kessel                   8

JVR                         7                              Kadri                      7                   Panik                     5

Komarov              6                              Santorelli             5                      Clarkson               5

Booth                    5                              Smith                    5                       Bodie                    4

Phaneuf               6                              Franson                  7

Rielly                     7                              Polak                     6

Gardiner              4                              Robidas                 5


Team Total = 101



Saad                      8                              Toews                   9                          Hossa                    9

Bickell                   7                              Richards               7                          Kane                      9

Sharp                    8                              Shaw                     7                         Teravainen         6

Carcillo                  6                              Kruger                  5                       Smith                    5

Keith                     9                              Seabrook             8

Hjalmarsson       8                              Oduya                   8

Rozsival             6                              Runblad               6


Team Total = 131


If you go through a few bottom dweller teams like Buffalo or Carolina you will probably come up with Team Totals around 95.

So based on this it seems clear Carlyle was given an extremely mediocre team to work with, and on some nights got an all star performance out of them.  Other nights, and more often, got the team they really were…below average in individual talent.

I’d suggest his coaching strategy was very successful in getting them to play some great hockey on some nights, executing game strategy and bringing high energy.  But on the bad nights the same game strategy couldn’t make up for the reality of talent they had on the ice.

In moving forward Shanahan would have been much better off to take a page from the Nashville Predators and Barry Trotz.  It took 4 or 5 years of poor showings to find the right player talent that could execute the strategy plan Trotz put in place.  Management believed in their coach, the coach believed in his plan and was given the chance to execute it.  Don’t for minute think Trotz after a few years dumped his plans and came up with a whole “new” system of play, his success came from being allowed to persevere in his plans and mold the players that came in for him.

And let’s not forget todays golden boy, Brendan Shanahan has no record of success in management at any level.  The pedestal Toronto fans and media have put him on is quite astonishing.  In his role with the NHL, he made many questionable disciplinary decisions and could not reasonably justify most of them when challenged (see my previous post and video).  While he was a great player, there is an extensive list of the greatest NHL players that failed miserably as coaches and GM’s in the league….look no further than my favorite Mr. Gretzky’s experiences.

So it seems the good ship Blue and White is continuing in on its Titanic voyage.  They refuse to learn from their own past, and refuse to acknowledge the success of other teams building strategies.  Shanahan like his predecessors talks a great game, but is either unable or incapable to follow through.  He said this year’s team was going to be tough, strong in the middle and defensively solid….wrong, wrong and wrong again but he continues on.  He says now Carlyle is gone the players are going to be held to account, why couldn’t they be held to account for Carlyle?  And really what exactly will Shanahan do about it when they inevitably can’t or won’t?

Unfortunately this ship is sailing the exact same course as the doomed Titanic (or the Edmonton Oilers, but I digress), but expects different results.

Hey what’s it called when you do the same thing over and over and over with the same results..…but continue to  expect different results each time?


I   N   S   A   N   I   T   Y….download












The Toronto Maple Leafs enter this NHL season like every other, a ton of optimism and uncertainty. After a strong initial start to last season, 4-0-1 the wheels fell off winning just 15 over there next 44 games for an embarrassing winning percentage of 34%. Sent packing was Beauchemin, Versteeg and Kaberble. Entering the room were Lupul, along with call ups Keith Aulie and James Reimer. No one sparked the Leafs like James Reimer who led the Leafs to an impressive finish winning 18 of their final 33 games, a 54% winning percentage. So which team shows up in 2011? Will it be the solid team over the final 1/3rd of the season, or the brutal team in the first 2/3rd’s?…….. Read more of this post


Rookie NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan blew an opportunity by not suspending Senators Chris Neil on his blindsided hit of Mikhail Grabovski in their recent pre season game…….. Read more of this post


Columnist Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star takes issue with ESPN’s opinion that Toronto is “ The Worst Sports City in the World” in his Tuesdays article.

ESPN’s latest shot at the great city of Muddy York was published on their upmarket web platform Grantland. The short version of the article is this….nobody loves hockey more than Toronto; and Toronto is terrible at hockey.
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Several have enquired to our lacking coverage of NHL preseason….and we have an excellent reason why.


It means nothing, its irrelevant and for the most part terrible hockey…..we can get that at a Greys Jr B game.


The Montreal Canadians training camp Oct 3-5th may be closed to the public, but if you’re the right town staff member you can enjoy the action.   The Town confirmed with us that municipal staff organizing the event, arena staff and council members all have access to camp.

Earlier this week Thornbury had the NHL referee camp in town.  They held open practices and games for the public, brought the Stanley Cup to town and allowed photos and held an open house presentation at Town Hall.  That’s a town that puts the community first.

How hard would it have been to arrange an hour for minor hockey coaches to watch the Habs practice, organize an autograph session for minor hockey players,

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1st – San Jose Sharks

Coach Todd McLellan is charged with getting these guys to the Cup finals, if not winning it….and they really should.  Four straight division titles, five straight 100 pt plus seasons, and two straight trips to the Western Conference finals.  GM Doug Wilson didn’t sit around this summer and moved out Heatley and Setoguchi for Burns and Havlat….Burns isn’t as good as his reputation and Heatley is much better than his so only time will tell on this one but the shakeup will be good.  The addition of Michal Handzus gives them a big, shutdown center that will help their struggling PK and give them some grit.  Their top 6 are as good as any in the league and they get a lot of offence from the blue line as well.  We question whether Niemi is worth the four year extension he got with an average save % and 14th in the league.

2nd – L.A. Kings

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WESTERN CONFERENCE – Northwest Division

1st – Vancouver Canucks

Coach Alain Vigneault is touted as one of the best coaches in the league, but did he get outcoached in last year’s finals or was it his big guns that didn’t produce?  They’ve retained the same core from last year and men for man are the best in the league on paper.  They’ll miss Ehrhoff on the PP.  Many think they need to get tougher as Boston showed them in the Cup finals, which they probably do…..but we think Boston exposed the Sundins inability to play through tough man to man coverage.  Luongo was an all-star all season until the playoffs where he became very average, and if it wasn’t for Cory Schneider Vancouver might have been in some trouble early.  1st in goals per game, PP goals, PP %, face-offs and goals against per game they are the class of the division and the conference.

2nd – Minnesota Wild

Coach Mike Yeo knows what it takes to win, apprenticing with the Pittsburgh Penguins as special teams coach….but it’s easy to be a good coach when you have that kind of roster.  In Minny he has the most underrated center in the league in Mikko Koivu .  Dan Heatley comes into town and hopefully has lost the chip off his shoulder….with the right attitude he could be a great pick up.

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CBC’s Battle of the Blades will include a memorial to former NHLer Wade Belak in a special show to kick off the third season of the reality TV series.

Former Nashville Predators defenceman and Battle of the Blades competitor Wade Belak was found dead Aug. 31. Former Nashville Predators defenceman and Battle of the Blades competitor Wade Belak was found dead Aug. 31. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

Blades host Ron MacLean will pay tribute to Belak, the former NHL tough guy and Blades competitor who was found dead in his Toronto hotel room Aug. 31. He was reported to have committed suicide.

A one-hour Blades show titled “Game On” will portray him in training sessions for the reality competition, which asks hockey players to don figure skates and try to master pairs skating.

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For those interested the NHL pre-season referree training camp is being held in Thornbury this week.  They will hold a game Tuesday morning at 10am, and an open house forum at the Town Hall later in the day with the Stanley Cup being on display, contact the town for more info.

Seems when it comes to community, Thornbury likes to make sure its residents are actually included in special events….note to Collingwood, maybe have the referee’s in next year and let the Canadians find another arena to barricade themselves in.

Dogpound Dude


A blog from someone who is a nobody