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Youth Coaches Must Not “Lose the Room”

December 15, 2014 Written by | No Comments

With over fifty games remaining and a .500 record through the first thirty, the Ottawa Senators elected to fire Head Coach Paul MacLean on the first day of December, the only NHL coach thus far to be relieved of their duties. The media suggests he lost the room.

Blame it on the Canadian hockey market or MacLean’s farewell address; this coaching change speaks volumes about the psychology of a dressing room, it’s why we can’t stop talking about it; MacLean’s fallout in Ottawa sheds light upon the dynamic of the working relationships between a coach, its players, and the team collectively.


Back to the NHL preseason; analysts agreed the Senators roster was that of a non-playoff team, perhaps a bubble-team, exactly where they currently stand, just 3 points shy of a playoff spot. Leading the hockey world to wonder, well, what did you expect?

The players expected what they got last year out of MacLean, a players-coach, as they say. But, MacLean’s inability to stay optimistic in post-game interviews may have drained any confidence the Senators had left, and surely ticked-off management.

“All I know is I’m scared to death no matter who we’re playing,” MacLean said before Saturday’s game when TSN’s Chris Cuthbert asked if he’d be more worried facing a hot or cold Sidney Crosby. “Whether it’s Sidney Crosby or John Tavares or the Sedins, I go day-by-day and I’m just scared to death every day of who we’re playing.

Never afraid to stir-up controversy however MacLean doesn’t mince words. He also doesn’t wear an ear piece during games, doesn’t believe in the whole advanced-stats malarkey, and yet, he has won at every level; Senators management grew tired of MacLean’s antics when the wins became scarce.

But, old-school vs. a new-aged hockey philosophy, the players could care less, MacLean’s personality-change is what evidentially cost him his job, and consequently led to his “losing of the room.” “You’re dammed if you hold the players accountable and you’re dammed when you are too loose” said NHL Network analyst Jamie McClellan; however the latter brashness of acting high-handed with the team was seemingly too much to withstand for the promising young Senators.

Relationships are organic, they need work, and can grow. We the media label situations as abysmal–the coach lost the room, it’s done; perhaps there’s no time to mend relationships in the NHL.

However there is time in youth sports, and maybe there is no better place to mend a relationship then the one between a novice coach and a young player. Inexperience at the helm can cripple a pretender to believing they’re contenders, and when momentum shifts south it’s easy to lose control. Be a leader, keep learning, and better your young team, youth hockey coaches must not lose the room, it’s too soon!

If this editorial contributes to the notion that it’s all on the coach, and NHL players must be coddled, then here is a former coach who gets right to the point of the debate.

New York Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella on management using coaches as scapegoats “Its crap! It’s another situation of just saying, alright boys you’re okay, you’re off the hook, comeback next year, its bull shit.”

Categories: Sports Psychology



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