And the coaches just keep falling. Craig Hartsburg and Curtis Hunt lost their jobs yesterday because the players either couldn’t or wouldn’t buy what they were selling. I was asked yesterday if “Hartsburg lost the players”. I am not sure he ever had them. That is not an indictment of Hartsburg but rather the players. In the last year this team will now have had four coaches. John Paddock, Bryan Murray, Craig Hartsburg and now Corey Clousten. Are they all bad coaches? No in fact all are very good coaches. So what is the common denominator here? The core of this team is the same and maybe that is the problem. There are some very talented hockey players who, for what ever reason, do not seem to want to battle at a high enough level to make this team competitive every game. It also seems that no matter how many times true consequences are threatened, it just doesn’t happen and that causes everyone to wonder about all the accountability that has been promised.
To be sure this team is not as skilled as it was 2 years ago, but it still has more than enough talent to be better than the worst offensive team in the NHL. The microscope is centred squarely on Bryan Murray and the players. Murray will be watching very closely to see how this group of players reacts to yet another coaching change and that inspection will play a major part in who might be leaving or at least on the block at trade deadline time. Murray will be judged by ownership on how he evaluates and tries to fix this team
Bryan has all the experience needed and is also well aware his job might be the next one on the block. Knowing Bryan I know he will not make a move to save his job if it’s a bad move for the team long term. History may show us that Bryan’s biggest mistakes may have been made out of loyalty and trust. Loyalty to players who might not feel any sense of guilt in not trying to repay that loyalty. Trust in expecting some of those players to do the things they said they would at the level they said they could.
While I can not foresee what will happen next I do know this is the beginning and not the end of this. No matter what type of results Clousten has from here until the end of the season, this team’s make up will change before next season starts. The only question is how big will those changes be and will they all be wearing skates. In this game players always have an impact on those in the sport who don't play. Players play well and its extensions and raises. Players play poorly its firings and demotions.
Whether they know it or not, accept it or not, their play decides many futures.
See you at the rink.