A coach is only as good as his players, and if his best players don’t buy in to what he’s coaching, well, he’s pretty much screwed.
So says Barry Trotz, one of the longest-tenured bench bosses in the NHL. Trotz has coached the Nashville Predators since 1998, so he knows what it takes to stay employed. And it’s not a tyrannical approach.
“Your top players make your team go, and you’ve got to make sure your top players are on your side,” said Trotz, as reported by Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun.
“And it’s not that you give in to them, but you’ve got to have a relationship where there’s a mutual understanding, and mutual respect. And you work together. It’s a little more of a relationship than it was in the past, where it was ‘Do it my way, or out the door.’
“For you to win hockey games, to win championships, sometimes you need your top guys to change, and if they’re unwilling to change, it becomes a very difficult situation.
“The great hockey players, and the great team guys, the great leaders will always change.”
Any guesses which team came up in the article?
As an outsider, it’s impossible to know whether the Washington Capitals’ top players rebelled against Bruce Boudreau. And if they did, whose fault was it? Maybe Boudreau could’ve been more diplomatic in his attempts to change his players. Maybe players like Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin aren’t willing to be changed, no matter who’s in charge. Maybe they shouldn’t be changed.
Regardless, Dale Hunter will need to get the Caps – especially his top players – to buy in to the way he wants them to play. Maybe one of his first questions should be, “How do you guys want to play?” Then they work together from there.