I do not wish anything bad to happen to anyone. I absolutely hated firing employees in my managerial career. The fact that the individual’s performance certainly justified it made it no more desirable. Some of them were people that I really liked on a personal level. Others were so difficult and had personalities that were selfish and not desired on any managers team. That said, sending someone home to tell their wife or kids they were fired was not something I enjoyed. The firing by the Maple Leafs of Mike Babcock on a personal level brings me no joy. No satisfaction.
As a Sabres fan who wants our team to be much more successful than the Leafs, watching things that Toronto does fail does bring a smile to my face. The fact that Babcock chose to be employed 90 minutes up the QEW over being given the keys to the Queen City was disappointing at the time.
In hindsight, if Dan Bylsma was run out of town by Jack Eichel and company for his all-business-old-school-style of coaching, certainly Babcock would have been excommunicated much earlier. These millennial generation players earn more money in one season than players in the past made over an entire career.
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They are reducing the demand for the Scotty Bowman school-of-coaching graduates like Mike Keenan. John Tortorella still gets recycled because he won as Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay and is a darn good coach. Using Glen Sather’s terminology, Tortorella has a different shelf life than other coaches. Some hard nosed coaches can come in and win some games early before their message gets tuned out by the players.
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A “Players coach” is the term thrown around these days. The days of Herb Brooks saying “I’ll be your coach, I won’t be your friend. If you need one of those, take it up with Doc or Coach Patrick.” are a thing of the past.
The players these days will not be treated like they are marines being broken down and built back up. A coach being inspired by Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket will not fly in today’s society as well as today’s NHL. “What is your major malfunction numb-nuts? Didn’t mommy and daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?” No way. Go coach the Thunder Bay Bombers. You can treat the likes of Carl Racki like an animal because he just was desperate to play the game anywhere.
Even Lindy Ruff had slowly changed his coaching style from the late 90’s to his later years in Buffalo. A gentler, softer, kinder, and more personal style became the demand. He certainly did not change it to the extreme by any means. He was not all warm and fuzzy taking players for hot cocoa, but did adjust the way he worked the team or spoke to the players.
These players grew up when their school teachers had to watch every word they say as if the students were protected by a union. In many cases, the inmates ran the asylum. I am not saying the players these days are not held accountable. If they do not perform they can still slide down the depth chart, end up in the press box or be sent to the minors. But the superstar players win many power struggles with the coaches. That could mean the coach moving on or the player getting moved at their request. Telling a player to shut up and play the game does not appear to fly these days.
That may be part of the reason that when Bylsma was dismissed he was replaced with a Teddy Bear like Phil Housley. After all, Housley deserved to be inducted in the Hall of Fame. That does not make me forget the suggestions by fans in the 80’s that he would hit someone with his purse if things get nasty. He was the master of the dancing hug when brawls broke out. Just sayin….