GOODBYE HOUSLEY IT'S BEEN NICE HOPE YOU FIND YOUR PARADIIIIIIISE
It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for. I’ll never rejoice over someone losing their job, especially as someone who is graduating in May and applying to 15 jobs every week. But for the betterment of the Buffalo Sabres organization, Phil Housley has been relieved of his duties. You can argue that it’s because of the collapse. You could also tell me that he wasn’t kept on board because of his misuse of young players and veterans who have earned nothing in this league.
I’ve come up with an analogy for Horsley’s coaching style:
His coaching style mimicked the parenting style of a father who clearly forgot that he too, was a kid once. “No son, I’m not going to let you go have fun with your friends. Stay home with me. You have a lot to learn about this world, and those damn 5th graders that you look up to will teach you nothing.” And all jokes aside, Casey Mittelstadt is the kid he’s talking to.
If there’s one thing that Housley contributed to this organization, it’s that he might be the reason that Casey Mittelstadt left school early to join the team. Mitts said that the “Minnesota Hockey Legend” was someone he looked up to his whole life. However, once Mitts got here and spent significant time with him, he probably realized that this figure he had always idolized really didn’t know what was best for him, benching him for no good reason and sticking him with people who wouldn’t allow him to maximize his potential all too often.
Housley did this with Pilut, CJ Smith, Nylander and Borgen too. Thankfully, he inserted Olofsson on the top line with Eichel, and we saw flashes of brilliance and a shot that Dahlin has called “the best he’s ever seen”.
Here are some possibilities for GMJB to hire as the Buffalo Sabres' next Head Coach.
***So I finished this article about 20 minutes before the Todd McCllelan rumor surfaced and I didn't include him for two reasons. I hadn't even thought of him as a possibility and he's honestly the WORST, MOST BORING, PREDICTABLY SAFE OPTION EVER. So I'll start off with him in my edited version of this article!
I refuse to download a picture of this failure of a coach and insert it into this article. McCllelan is the person GMJB would hire if he wanted to most easily guarantee his job security for two years. Because of his pedigree with the San Jose Sharks, he'll be given at least two years to turn the Sabres around. Someone replied to a disgruntled tweet of mine saying that "His record shows he's above average." IS THAT WHAT WE WANT?! ABOVE AVERAGE?! That's what we're ready to settle for. We have Eichel, Reinhart, Dahlin and other players approaching the primes of their careers and we're going to settle for "above average". Let me tell you McCllelan is exactly average and no better. He coached one of the best NHL rosters I've ever seen with Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Dany Heatley, Dan Boyle, Rob Blake and Evgeni Nabokov all in their primes. Throw a young Logan Couture in there too. Do you know how many cups they won? ZERO. He's coming off missing the playoffs in two of three seasons with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitil on his team! It's no secret that Eichel isn't as good as McDavid, so what do we expect him to do with our dumpster fire of a roster?!
Also, he doesn't believe in analytics AT ALL. Hockey is moving in the direction of incorporating analytics into game preparation and roster construction. While numbers don't tell you the whole story, it can be a great asset to utilize. With more and more teams hiring analysts to help them build their rosters properly, McCllelan will easily fall behind in an evolving sport. He'll be the grandpa that can't figure out why his computer isn't working when it isn't plugged in. I'd rather take a flyer on a young up-and-comer like Chris Taylor or my dream hire, who I'll get to at the end of the article.
If GMJB wants to hire a coach that will be better for the development of our young players, look no further than Buffalo’s backyard. Amerks head coach Chris Taylor has contributed to players like Olofsson and Borgen in their first years of professional hockey in America. We’ve also been able to witness improvements in CJ Smith, Zach Redmond, Danny O’Regan and Rasmus Asplund. There could be a benefit in having him move up to the NHL along with some of his players. He’s a valuable asset to the organization and promoting him to the NHL could prove to be the only way to keep him around because a lot of teams may be interested in him once the Amerks either win or are knocked out of the AHL playoffs.
There are two problems I see with this hire though.
1.) One of the problems is NOT the timeline. I’ve seen a lot of fans on twitter says that we need to fill the vacancy ASAP because we need to #ResignJeffSkinner and after seeing the UB Bulls implode after having no coach for two weeks, I understand that. But last year Evander Kane hadn’t resigned in San Jose until May 29th. The deadline is July 1st. No one has reported anything indicating that Skinner won’t stay, so relax.
2.) The Sabres aren’t as young as you think. Reinhart has 331 games under his belt. Eichel has 286. Olofsson might be new to the NHL, but he’s 23, the same age as Reinhart. The Sabres have players entering the primes of their careers, that doesn’t mean they have a boatload of young, developing talent. They’re the tied for the 9th youngest team in the NHL only .6 years below the average. For me, the perfect hire would be one where Chris could stay in Rochester or come up as an Assistant. I understand this perspective because we have young talent coming up from Rochester (hopefully), but take it with a grain of salt.
3.) He doesn’t have any head coaching experience in the NHL, but this critique is entirely dependent on what GMJB will value in a candidate. I’m alright with not hiring someone with a lot of NHL experience, but the roster makeup will have to change to reflect the hire.
AV is another imperfect hire. Since joining the Canucks in 2006, his teams have only missed the playoffs twice. But I’d compare him to a Mike McCarthy without the Championship. He’s been carried by elite goaltenders his entire career: Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist, and all he has to show for it are two Stanley Cup LOSSES. He’s also been known to misuse young players in complex, subpar systems. He’s basically Phil Housley, but he got lucky by having elite goaltending to help him along the way, having a poor reputation even when he’s had success.
Boudreau is another coach with an abysmal playoff record. However, he has the second highest winning % among coaches with 100+ games. Of the 11 teams, he’s coached for a whole season, 8 have finished first in the division, and only one has missed the playoffs (this year’s Minnesota Wild). If there’s a single coach with NHL head coaching experience that I’m hoping for, it’s Boudreau, even though he hasn't officially been released by the Wild yet.
My Dream Hire:
He’s the head coach of the Swedish national team, and with Dahlin as our franchise player and Olofsson poised to be on the top line next year, I can’t think of a more high-upside hire. It’s not a safe one. He has no NHL or AHL head coaching experience. At the last two World Championships, his team had a 15-3-1-1 record and won gold both years. At the 2018 Olympics, the Gronborg-led Swedes went 3-1-1 and placed 5th in the tournament. And for what its worth (it's worth everything) Dahlin was on that team. I’d like to put an emphasis on the defense of his team’s play. His two world championship teams had a combined goal differential of +52. They allowed 29 goals in 20 games! As a team with a clear goalie problem (until UPL arrives) and lackluster defense, he could prove to provide value at that end of the ice.
If I were a betting man, and I've made it very clear in my past articles that I am, I'd bet on Chris Taylor being promoted (or McCllelan apparently wtf?!). I tweeted out a thread yesterday why it's just the most predictable one:
- While in Pittsburgh, Botterill promoted two head coaches from the AHL (both won Stanley Cups)
- Chris Taylor coached in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when Botterill was GM in Pittsburgh
- It's consistent with the development narrative
- He'd take the leap to the NHL with players that he's previously coached
- He's the polar opposite of Housley
- Mittelstadt seemed to have his growth stunted by Housley so Taylor could help him along
- Jon Cooper was promoted to Tampa Bay from the AHL and that's going perfectly
This is most likely going to be the last coach that GMJB hires so I expect him to play it safe with the hire. Taylor, in my opinion, is the safest and the easiest to sell to the owners and the fan base.