The awards ceremony last week and the draft this week provide an interesting backdrop to all of the coaching changes going on around the league.
On the one hand, you have the established stars of the league being honored and on the other you have the future stars entering the league. And coaches have to be able to relate to both groups.
Take new Ottawa Senators bench boss
Yet when it comes to hiring, and firing, coaches, the mandate this spring seems to be "we need a guy who can work with young players." Look at the case of the delayed dismissal of
"It just comes down to, I guess, fit, and there's no doubt we're committed to the way we're going after my meeting with ownership this week," Lombardi told the
Well, no kidding.
The NHL in general and the Kings specifically have been headed this way for awhile: the league due to the natural evolution of rosters as it moves further away from expansion (now eight seasons past), and the Kings because of several years of high first-round picks such as
That is where the upcoming draft comes in. More and more, teams are looking at a player's potential to step into the NHL immediately. Yes, upside and development remain essential elements when evaluating a player, but immediate impact is now a critical part of the matrix. Rushing a player is no longer a fear; it is a reality of operating in a salary cap era. Teenagers as NHL players is a growing trend, and using the Pittsburgh Penguins as a prime example, youngsters now are put in positions of prominence more quickly. Thus,
Which brings us back to the coaches selected over the past couple of weeks.
Hartsburg returns to the NHL after a five-year junior stint, including two gold medals at the helm of the Canadian Junior team. His assistant on those teams,
It makes sense. These new coaches have all recently worked with young players and succeeded. They fit the emerging NHL model and if they can win in their new jobs, they may come to define it.