Thursday, June 20, 2013
Thursday Morning Cupcheck - The Quest for the Holy Coach
This is only the most important decision of Jim Nill's management career. No pressure or anything.
Good morning, hockey fans! Last week we got up close and personal with the Stars' latest Really Old Guy, Sergei Gonchar. This week, with the Stars dodging a HUGE bullet and more prospects yet to be interviewed, it may seem that Dallas' coaching search is one big chaotic mess.
Fortunately, we've provided this handy guide to all of the remaining coaches so that when new GM Jim Nill actually does make a decision, you'll known exactly what to complain about and why he's set the franchise back five years. Enjoy!
Coaching Prospect #1: John Tortorella
Pros: Unlike anybody else on this list, has actually won something.
Cons: A total pushover; too soft on his players
Even Worse Cons: If you take away that dominant 16-7 record in his Cup-winning year, Torts' .407 postseason winning percentage is pretty pathetic.
Expert Analysis: While Torts did technically win a Stanley Cup, that was unquestionably one of the weaker Cup wins in recent memory, as it came against an allegedly Canadian team. In addition to that, it was against type: Tortorella's teams very rarely escape from the first round, partially because they are too exhausted by that time to do so, but more likely because he doesn't know how to get the most out of his rosters. The Rangers are one of the most stacked teams in the league, and they've struggled to get even mediocre production from most of their top guns under Tortorella.
Final Verdict: Next prospect.
Coaching Prospect #2: Dave Tippett
Pros: Almost always makes the playoffs; can make Lehtonen into the next Mike Smith
Cons: Only gets to the playoffs thanks to loser shootout points and his no-risk five-goalie system which bores fans and makes a mockery of the sport.
Even Worse Cons: Tippett's teams are entirely fluff and mirrors. The four 100+ point teams he's coached have a .419 winning percentage in the playoffs.... against bottom seeds.
Expert Analysis: Stars fans know what you get in Tippett: gaudy regular season records based on team defense and goaltending, i.e. keeping everyone back behind the red line until you and the other team get to overtime. Not only is this an unsustainable way to win games, but it distributes unearned points to the other team --which invariably always seem to be his division rivals. If the Stars' utmost goal is to make the playoffs, Tipp's their man. If their utmost goal is to win more than one playoff round every four years, literally anybody else would be a better choice.
Final Verdict: Pass.
Coaching Prospect #3: Lindy Ruff
Pros: Took his team to four Conference Finals; can work with almost any roster
Cons: Is the definition of an "all-or-nothing" coach: four trips to Conf. finals are sandwiched around a larger body of work including seven playoff-less seasons and three first-round flameouts.
Even Worse Cons: Has only made the postseason twice in the last six years, and was shooed out of the first round both times.
Expert Analysis: Ruff has seen it all: from coming within two wins of a Stanley Cup to wasting away as a bottom-feeding lottery team, Ruff's teams are consistently inconsistent. He has never had a truly great roster, but has squeezed out a .564 postseason winning percentage all the same, although a lot of that is his 24-12 record in his first two season when he had Hasek and five cheerleaders on the ice. Overall, his career has been one of diminishing returns, angry former players and mediocre finishes.
Final Verdict: No Go.
Coaching Prospect #4: Jeff Blashill
Pros: Has won, and won big, at every level he's coached.
Cons: Has just one year of NHL coaching experience, and as an assistant.
Even Worse Cons: ...and that was for Detroit
Expert Analysis: Blashill just came off a Calder Cup win in his first-ever season as a coach in the AHL, which should come as little surprise considering he won the Clark Cup in his first-ever year in the USHL and earned a top-four finish in the Frozen Four in his first-ever year in the US college ranks. With zero NHL head coaching experience and only one year as an NHL assistant --to one of the league's best in Mike Babcock-- Blashill is naturally an unknown quantity. However, success seems to follow him around, and he's already got a previous relationship with Nill, so it might be time to take a chance on a promising young coach.
Final Verdict: Acceptable, provided he grows a mustache, stat.
Coaching Prospect #5: Willie Desjardins
Pros: Excellent coach in the minors, won the WHL twice.
Cons: Embarassed in the second round of the 2013 AHL playoffs.
Even Worse Cons: Was an assistant for two very mediocre Stars teams.
Expert Analysis: Desjardins did an amazing job in his first-ever AHL stint, taking the Texas Stars from worst to first in a single year despite half his team getting called up to the big club on a regular basis. A lot of the Dallas Stars' top prospects --like Jamie Oleksiak and Reilly Smith-- looked dominant under Desjardins, while looking out of place at the big club. Whether that's a ringing endorsement for Whiteboard Willie as a 'player's coach,' or a stinging criticism of how he fails to get his guys ready for the big league, is up for debate.
Final Verdict: He's got the mustache, but still needs seasoning in the AHL.