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Sports Hickey on hockey: Old-school coaching clashes with new NHL reality

09:40  07 december  2019
09:40  07 december  2019 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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“When you were a coach , did you ever kick a player?”. “No, but maybe I’ll wake up in the morning and hear I did,” Bob Gainey replied. Gainey, who was one of 11 former captains dropping into the Bell Centre Tuesday to help celebrate the Canadiens’ 110th anniversary

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a man wearing a baseball hat:  Head coach Bill Peters during the Calgary Flames’ training camp in Calgary on Sept. 13, 2019.© Al Charest Head coach Bill Peters during the Calgary Flames’ training camp in Calgary on Sept. 13, 2019.

“When you were a coach, did you ever kick a player?”

“No, but maybe I’ll wake up in the morning and hear I did,” Bob Gainey replied.

Gainey, who was one of 11 former captains dropping into the Bell Centre on Tuesday to help celebrate the Canadiens’ 110 th anniversary, was referencing the controversy arising from hockey’s version of the #MeToo movement.

It began last month when defenceman Akim Aliu accused Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters of using a racial slur on several occasions when Peters was coaching the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.

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a man wearing a baseball hat:  Head coach Bill Peters during the Calgary Flames’ training camp in Calgary on Sept. 13, 2019.© Al Charest Head coach Bill Peters during the Calgary Flames’ training camp in Calgary on Sept. 13, 2019.

The NHL launched an investigation and Peters resigned after offering an apology that did not mention Aliu.

The Peters incident was disturbing, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. It was followed by reports Peters kicked one player and punched another on the bench while coaching the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina general manager Ron Francis acknowledged he was aware of the incidents and that he talked to Peters and there were no further incidents.

There have been more revelations in the past week. Sean Avery said he was kicked in the butt by coach Marc Crawford when he played for the Los Angeles Kings and recently fired Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock’s reputation took a beating when there were several reports that he verbally abused players.

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The Avery incident — which led to Crawford being forced to take a leave from his assistant coach position with the Chicago Blackhawks while the team investigated the incident — is interesting simply because Avery is an interesting guy.

A few days after the incident made headlines, Avery sent out a tweet suggesting Crawford was one helluva guy.

“After an exhausting investigation the ”AVERY REVIEW” has concluded that Mark ”The Crow” Crawford was a demanding coach who would actually fight for his players and gave Mr. Avery a great opportunity to become a better player and teammate even though he was an unmanageable ‘Ass’ ”.

Other players have weighed in on Crawford, but there’s no consensus on his coaching style. Last year, former NHLer Brett Sopel complained about Crawford being physically abusive, while Laval Rocket assistant coach and ex-NHLer Alex Burrows said Crawford was “really good” to him.

“He really helped me to understand what it took to play in the NHL,” Burrows told reporters in Vancouver, where he was inducted into the Canucks’ Ring of Honour on Tuesday. “He gave me my first chance with the Canucks, he’s always been really good. He pushed me, he made sure I needed to play a certain way so I could achieve my goals and stay and play as long I did in the NHL. In Ottawa, when I saw him again (at the end of Burrows’ NHL career), he was a great Crow again. He taught me so much. He’s always been so good to me. At the same time, I can’t speak for anybody else.”

There was a certain irony to Avery’s accusation because he made a living as an agitator. His on-ice antics never merited a suspension by the NHL, but he was suspended for making crude comments about actress Elisha Cuthbert and model Rachel Hunter, two former girlfriends who went on to date other NHL players. At the time, Cuthbert was dating Dion Phaneuf and they later married.

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They also questioned coach Michel Therrien’s track record with young players and there was even a If I were running the show, I might have given the 18-year- old Russian a few more games but the The Canadiens handled Sergachev perfectly. At 18, he’s played more regular-season NHL games

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Babcock’s situation is different. There’s no evidence he physically abused players or that he used racist or homophobic slurs. But his coaching style, based on intimidation and arrogance, was outdated.

You would expect a more enlightened approach from a McGill alumnus, a guy who took graduate courses in sports psychology, a guy who began his working life as a teacher. Instead, you had a bully stuck in the last century.

a group of baseball players that are standing in front of a crowd:  Former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on Nov. 13, 2019.© Bruce Bennett Former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on Nov. 13, 2019.

Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman, two of the games’ greatest coaches, had success by pushing players hard. They could get away with it because there were fewer jobs in the NHL and the threat of a seat on the bench or a trip to the minors was real for players who had to take off-season jobs to make ends meet.

Bowman once looked back at the Hall of Famers who were part of the Canadiens’ dynasty during the 1970s and told me he regretted not being able to tell them how good they were because he had to push them to be better.

“The game evolved,” said former Canadiens player and head coach Guy Carbonneau. “There was a time when, if the coach wasn’t happy with a practice, he’d have the trainers take away the water bottles. You can’t do that today.”

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And, as Babcock learned, you break players down and demean them at your peril.

The greatest coach in the world who only won one Stanley Cup wasn’t fired by the Toronto management last month, he was fired by his players who had enough of his heavy-handed tactics and quit on him.

phickey@postmedia.com

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Related

Ron Francis explains handling of Bill Peters situation as Hurricanes GM .
Former Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis spoke for the first time about the physical abuse allegations against Bill Peters when he served as head coach of the team. The post Kawhi thought fans ‘were great’ to cheer for him in return to Toronto appeared first on Sportsnet.ca.In an interview with The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker, Francis, who is currently the GM of the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise, explained why Peters was given a contract extension in 2016 even though management had earlier been made aware of physical incidents between two players and Peters during a game.

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