Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Regarding Bucky

This is a spinoff of a HF post I just made. Thought it was worth elaborating on.

Much has been made of the decision of MacT to bring in Bucky as an assistant coach of the Oilers. The most common bashing I've heard has been that "he was a grinder and is going to lock down our skill players" and the other revolving around the general dislike the old boys club. I disagree on both fronts and I'm sick of hearing these arguments over and over.

First and foremost, I think we need to realize what Bucky is being brought in to do. On the coaching depth chart he is behind MacT, Billy Moores and Charlie Huddy. He is being brought in as a complimentary coach. He is a lot more likely to help players with their workout schedules and diets than to run the powerplay. IMO its actually better for the organization to have Bucky as in a apprenticeship role than as a head coach. In this position, he will learn more.

"Bucky was a defensive grinder who cant teach skill"

I dont really think many coaches have a large impact on skill. I think skill is taught by osmosis from other players. I'd argue that Filppula learns a lot more from Zetterberg/Datsyuk by watching them, practicing against them and playing with them then anyone of Detroit's coaches. Same with how Anderson, Kurri and Messier became much better players because of Gretzky. It wasn't because Glen Sather was a mastermind creative coach.

Secondly, defense wins championships. I have no problems with coaches who demand their players be defensively responsible. I also dont think that because your a defensive player it means your team will lack creativity. Guy Carbonneau was one of the most defensive players ever to play the game yet Montreal had the top power play in the league. Defensive players typically have long careers because of their hockey brains rather than their slap shot, skating ability or passing vision. That is why these guys make good coaches. Another good example is Jacques Lemairre.

My only concern is there will be a bias towards grinder type players. Last year, I think the Oilers coaching staff evolved quite a bit with the development of Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson. Although I think it was a combination of change in coaching philosophy and having better players. I think the vision for the Oilers is to have skilled players who work hard and compete. Crosby, Zetterberg and Datsyuk have all look like grinders at times in the finals and to me it reflects well to the type of team the Oilers are building. I dont think you can win a playoff series with players who dont know how to work hard and compete.

"I'm sick of the old boys club"

I'm less against this argument because I can see the value of new ideas if you can find the right people. But I dont have a problem with MacT/Huddy hiring a guy who they've worked with for 5+ years and know will illustrate the type of characteristics they want in their players. Bucky was one of the hardest working players to ever put on an Oilers jersey. He's not being brought in to teach Sam Gagner to fight tougher players as Bucky often did throughout his career. I've stated what I think his role is several times already and its not to teach players to play like him.

If I'm ever hiring a guy, the first thing I do is ask around the people who I have worked with and know are good and ask them if they are looking for a job. It can take months or a year before you know capable or compatable in the work environment. If MacT wants to hire a guy he knows then I go no qualms - especially in a complimentary role.

Bucky did a lot more (18 years in the NHL, 4 as captain and 2 Stanley Cups) with a lot less than many other guys have. Not a horrible choice for 4th assistant coach IMO.