Monday, August 08, 2005


"Yeah? Well, I'm taller!"

While the lemmings of Leafs Nation are panicking and crying because they are being left out of the Free Agent Madness(tm), it's always nice to know that Hall of Fame writer George (Juraj) Gross can provide a reasonable voice to the people of that cursed city. This is required reading for any Leafs fan.

To the critics, Ferguson Jr. first failed to clear cap room by not buying out some of the major salaries on the team. The last time I checked, those salaries belonged to Mats Sundin, Ed Belfour and, to a lesser extent, Bryan McCabe. To my recollection, not one team bought out its leading scorer who, in this case, also happens to be the team's spiritual leader. So that eliminates Sundin.

Which brings us to Belfour. The critics wanted him bought out. Do those same critics think Mikael Tellqvist is ready to be an everyday starting goalie? Or do those same critics expect that Nikolai Khabibulin, the only star-quality goaltender on the market, would've jumped at the chance to come to Toronto? Even if he had, his salary would have cost $2 million more than Belfour's. I guess that strategy wouldn't have worked either.

I don't recall any team buying out its best defenceman in the prime of his career. While one might argue that perhaps McCabe is not the best defenceman the Leafs have had, he certainly is the best of those in the prime of their careers.

And that does not even address the probability that Ferguson Jr. didn't even have the power to buy out those contracts even if he wanted to! We all know how much Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan enjoy paying players not to play as they have done several times with the Raptors.

* Interesting Split of the Day: Paul Kariya might just benefit from not playing half of his games at a high altitude. Perhaps the successive concussions make it harder to him to play when the air pressure is so vastly different? Or maybe it's just small sample size that explains the reverse home/away splits.

03-04 Home 25GP 5-9-14 -4
03-04 Away 26GP 6-16-22 -1

* While members of the mainstream trip over each other to be the first to kiss Wayne Gretzky's pasty ass, I'll take the other route and say what they are afraid to say: Wayne Gretzky is going to be a spectacular failure as an NHL Head Coach.

Is there anything about Wayne Gretzky that really leads you to believe that he could succeed as an NHL Head Coach? His temperament and 'friendly' image with the players will make it hard to him to crack the whip and get the kind of fear and respect a head coach generally needs. I don't think he has the gumption to crack the whip and play Mr. Bad Cop when it's needed. Other player-friendly coaches such as Joel Quenneville and Pat Quinn have the ability to lay down the law when it's needed (Though Coach Q didn't do it well enough), and I don't see that in Wayne.

We know Wayne's off-ice endeavours almost always end up failing or treading water. Wayne might have been a brilliant offensive player, but he's never grown up or played in a very defined systematic style of play...and he has no head coaching experience whatsoever.

People will point to Larry Bird as the one example of a great player turned head coach, but fail to realize that Larry Bird has a far different personality than Wayne Gretzky. Bird was a real bad-ass and gritty SOB. Wayne had a +3 Protetection from Evil aura cast around him that somehow caused him never to suffer the punishment of actually being hit. If Wayne wanted to increase interest in Coyotes games, he should have hired one of the hungry and talented head coaches out there to help his team win games. People don't go to hockey games to watch the coaches.

Tom Benjamin over at Canucks Corner has a more reasonable assessment of the types of coaching attributes found in a bench boss and looks at whether The Great One can succeed.

I'd be surprised if Wayne lasts the entire season.

while i actually fear Wayno's ability to do anything other than skate and put pucks where he wants, I certainly am concerned about anti- "player's coaches" mentality expressed.

hey this it the NEW nhl remember? where billionaires control players who make a few bucks more than they could in sweden. I think the return of the players coach is going to suprise a lot o' folks.

when the marketplace sets an unreasonably low price on salaries, a lot of naggy little things start to happen. one of which will be a player will get oooh 1.5 million from any one of 8 teams, no more and no less, so how does he choose?

a) cup potential? b) ice time? c) coaching? d) climate?

Wayne had a +3 Protetection from Evil aura cast around him

That's funny stuff, Jes. The only thing I can think of that would make Gretzky a good coach is the vision he had when he was on the ice - he knew where everyone was at all times without having to look around. If he can translate that to coaching - and if the players believe in him enough - he might be successful. But I think there's a very slim chance of that happening. I think the 'Yotes just want to fill that new arena of theirs so every time the Preds come to town there'll be more people watching them beat the stuffing out of the home team.

Maurice Richard was head coach of the Nordiques back when they were in the WHA. Now I'm not sure if they did bad because he was a terrible coach, or if they had terrible players or a bit of both, but there's another example of a hockey legend trying on the coach's cap and failing at the pro level.

- Duc
Regarding the new head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, I'll just say over here what I said at's Canes board...

~*static* transmission coming in...received~

EARTH TO THE GREAT ONE: Just because you are *the* best player to play the game of hockey thus far does not mean that you would also make a good actor/comedian*, AND ALSO does not mean that you will be a good coach!

~transmission ended *static*~

Hey, maybe Wayne will prove us wrong...but I wouldn't bank on it.

* - Despite the fact that I *do* like him in the Hockey Falls TV and radio commercials.

And it makes for yet another reason to get NHL Center Ice: Get to watch Gretzky lose it on semi-national TV. >:D
BTW, sorry about the first comment...gawd, I hate typos.
10 gp sez he implodes halfway through the season.
1. Interesting theory about 'player-friendly' coaches and lower salaries...but I don't think it will hold.

Coaches from the Eastern Bloc (Slovakia, Czechia, Russia) are still very much hard-line and hardly warm and fuzzy. While the new coaches don't tend to be the vicious hardliner than Ivan Hlinka was, there really aren't that many Quennevilles in that part of the world.

I don't know that coaches in Sweden, Germany, Finland, etc...are really player friendly, or that NHL coaches would really drive NHL players overseas. If you want to play against the world's best, and make the most $, the NHL is likely your best bet. I can't see many players simply jetting to Europe because the coach hurt their precious feelings.

2. I had no idea Maurice Richard ever coached a major hockey franchise. I know he held a front office job with the Habs and failed miserably b/c he didn't have the temperment.

3. I can't wait to see Gretzky implode/expode, either! Wayner was known to be an on-ice whiner, but he kept it hidden well enough and wasn't known publicly as a whiny type. Once the pressure gets to him and the refs push him over the edge, we may see a side of Gretzky that we've rarely seen before.

4. My Charisma attribute is a lowly 5, so I don't gamble ;)
For Mr. Anonymous who said that players in the new NHL will only make a few bucks more than in Sweden...are you kiddin?! There is absolutely no money to be made in Sweden compared to the NHL.

Furthermore "when the marketplace sets an unreasonably low price on salaries...". Unreasonably low cant be talking about the the news for christ sake, take a look at the "new salaries" in the "new" NHL. THEN come back and tell me they are unreasonably low.

Sorry Jes, did not mean to rant to much at your nice blog-site but I cant stand unreasonable reasoning!
Wayne will last the whole season. Know why? Who the hell has the balls to fire your 17% owner AND Wayn Gretzky. I'll give you a hint, it aint the Coyotes GM
Mr. Rant,

This is Hockey Rants. I appreciate feedback and commentary on this site. Feel free to rant all you like!


If Gretzky is really faltering, it would likely be a group decision to 'remove' him from the coaching job. I think Gretzky will be smart enough to quit if he's having a rough time of it. His old buddy pal may not fire him, but he'd sure 'convince' him to give it up.
don't forget that Bird's success coaching the Pacers was thanks largely to the fact that he inherited a very good team, whereas Gretzky will be inheriting a team that only a mother could love.

While I disagree with your reasoning (Wayne's lack of grit will make him a bad coach), I'm sort of with you on the overall picture. I think Wayne will struggle, and the expectations on him will be unrealistically high.
He's definitely got his work cut out for him.
I think he'll last the whole season, but I would not be surprised to see him move into the back seat. Frankly, I think he should start in the back seat as assistant, just to test the waters, then maybe move up.
Does it feel wierd that you have three Hurricanes fans (stormbringer, puck-it, myself) in this comments section? Some people think we don't exist.
a) i didnt mean to suggest player smith picks friendly coach or sweden, i meant to suggest with 8 nhl teams all offering the same deal in a static marketplace the player can and will certainly include the head coach as a more major factor than ever before. I mean really 1.5 million, city A with iron mike keenan as coach, or city B with joel q as coach. you don't think it now matters?!? pah!!

secondly, yes underpaid. This is econ 101 folks, and i'll only say this once, get some schooling if you don't believe me. ANY caping of costs and/or salaries creates artifically low results. I don't care if that result still reaches multi millions it is artifically LOW (although one could argue before this they were artifically HIGH). AND basic econ 101 again, any restriction on a market place is, in the long term, a NEGATIVE!!! which of course means, (and bitch and whine and ignore all you want) hockey fans are better off with NO cap restrictions than with them. market forces work in nhl in every area except (now) salaries. hmmmm. you think owners agree to cap ticket costs? bahahahahaha! they love market freedom, even for a 5th rate product like hockey, when they are on the receiving end of the dime...

third, ummm considering the treat players have used in some negotiations that they will return to europe or merely not sign and come here to learn the north american "style" and that the threat actually appears to have worked for the first time in nhl history, I'm certain the frigne 4th liners, youngsters, and 6th d-man are making sure the european option is both available to play and usable as leverage. what would backman make over there? hell he didn't what to come here under the OLD system! lol
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