Something has been gnawing away at me for a couple of weeks and it’s not when did “The Office” turn from one of the few can’t miss shows on television into just another mediocre sitcom.
When we wrote our article for “The Committed Indian” last week, we examined the relationship between Stanley Cup winners and their head coaches. To recap, we found that almost every head coach had at least won a conference championship by his fifth year of coaching.
In the aforementioned article, I went as far back as 1980 to discover Jacques Demers and Al Arbour were the only coaches of Cup champions with more than five years experience who hadn’t at least a conference championship.
This time, I went as far back as the 1967-68 campaign a.k.a. when the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams and discovered the number of coaches stays the same. Demers and Arbour were still the only coaches in the exclusive club.
Now before I go any further, let me make this clear- This isn’t meant to be an indictment of Joel Quenneville.
What I’m really interested in figuring out is why this seems to be the case. Why is it that the head coaches of Stanley Cup winners, as a rule, had to have won at least a conference championship by their fifth year?
Let’s try and clear up the obvious first. The fact that the NHL was dynasty driven from the late 60’s to late 80’s plays a fairly large role. The Montreal Canadiens won 8 Cups in the 70’s with Scotty Bowman directing them to 6 of them. The New York Islanders and Arbour won 4 to start the 80’s and the Edmonton Oilers with Glen Sather (coach for 4) and John Muckler (1) closed out the decade with 5 of their own.
In 42 years, that’s 17 Cups won by only three teams. Not to mention, Bowman also won 4 more Cups with Pittsburgh and Detroit.
That still leaves 21 other Cup winners, so the lingering question remains, and to be perfectly honest…….I don’t have a slightest clue as to why this is the case. Sure, there are a few cogent theories.
The life span of NHL coaches is relatively short to begin with. There aren’t many coaches that get more than five years to prove their chops. In most cases, if a coach hasn’t righted the ship by his third year, then he’s going to get canned and he may not get another shot at redemption.
The more playoff failure a coach experiences, the harder it is for him to shake it. Joel Quenneville is actually a pretty good example here. Last year in the playoffs, Hawk fans were given an up-close and personal view on some of Coach Q’s warts. His incessant line-matching can be maddening and his epic meltdown in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals didn’t exactly help the situation. The longer it takes for a coach to win, the more they try to force the issue.
Scotty Bowman. Nowadays, Scotty has assumed the position of Black Hand within the Blackhawks organization previously held by Bob Pulford. Before that, he was, without question, the best coach in NHL history. Of the 42 Cup Champions since league expansion, Scotty was a part of a ridiculous 24% of them. How many coaches lost their chance at immortality because of him? At least 10, including Joel Quenneville.
For the most part, though, there is no concrete evidence as to why coaches need to win at least win a conference championship by their fifth year. It really shouldn’t make a difference, but just a mere glance at 40 of the last 42 years proves otherwise.
With Joel Quennville never winning more than 9 games in a playoff campaign throughout his 13-year coaching career, it would certainly behoove him to start reversing this trend as soon as he can.
*On the Farm*
–Byron Froese scored a goal and was a +2 in Everett’s 3-1 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers on Tuesday.