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Thursday Morning Conversation

Tbirds drop another game last night in Kamloops and fall to 2-9-1.

I think this is a silly conversation but I'm going to address it since obviously one blog heckler and some other people are putting the issue out there that Seattle needs a change at Head Coach and that this slow start can somehow be blamed on the coach.

For whatever it is worth, my opinion is this...

I don't care if this team doesn't win another game the rest of the season and finishes with the worst record in WHL history, there is absolutely no way you even entertain the idea of firing Rob Sumner until the season is over. Furthermore... even if this team ends up having a terrible season and missing the playoffs I still do not think Rob Sumner should be replaced. You can say that my "head is in the sand" all you want, as an anonymous commenter has said, but you just don't evaluate a coach with the record that Rob Sumner after a poor 12 game stretch.

Let's look at the facts....

In 2003-04, the final year under Dean Chynoweth, the Tbirds slumped to 24-31-8-9 (Ties and OT losses), 5th in the U.S. Division, out of the playoffs and did not have a single scorer with over 60 points on the season.

2004-05, Rob Sumner took over and the "New Generation" of Tbirds hockey was born. While teams in the WHL often turn around from year to year... Seattle went from being last in the U.S. Division to being 1st in the U.S. Division with a record of 43-24-2-3 and winning their second Division Title and finishing with the 3rd best record in the Western Conference. Aaron Gagnon topped 60 points and Bryan Bridges had 13 shutouts to tie the single season record for shutouts. The Tbirds then defeated the Tri-City Americans 4 games to 1 in the first round of the playoffs. The season came to an end in Round 2 where the Tbirds lost to the eventually WHL champion Kelowna Rockets who had previously won the Memorial Cup the year before. Safe to say this had nothing to do with the coach and they simply got beat by the better team.

2005-06, Tbirds go 35-31-6 and finish 2nd in the U.S. Division only 4 points ahead of Portland. No player finishes with more than 45 points although Roman Tomanek would likely have had he not been sent home for violating team rules. Without Tomanek the Tbirds lose a 3 goal lead and Game 7 at home to the Portland Winter Hawks in Round 1 of the playoffs. Obviously this isn't the result everyone was looking for they lose a Game 7 by one goal to a team that was probably their equal. By winning... Portland earned the right to be smashed by the Vancouver Giants (eventual WHL Champion) in Round 2... the same fate the Tbirds probably would have faced.

2006-07, Tbirds finish 37-21-14 and in 3rd place in a very tough U.S. Division where 3rd place meant finishing 4th in the Western Conference. 2 players top 60 points led by Aaron Gagnon's 80. Seattle then upsets the Carey Price led Tri-City Americans (96 points regular season) to advance to the 2nd round where they lose 4 games to 1 to the eventual Memorial Cup Champion Vancouver Giants.

2007-08, Tbirds finish 42-23-7 which is good for only 3rd in the U.S. Division again with two teams over 100 points in the Division. The is again good for 4th in the Western Conference and Seattle defeats 5th place Kelowna in Round 1 in 7 games, 4-3. The Tbirds then lose 4 games to 1 to the Tri-City Americans team that just finished winning the U.S. Division with 108 points... a team that was just flat out better than them.

So lets recap here...

In 4 full seasons as Tbirds coach... Rob Sumner has gone:

Games: 288
Wins: 157
Losses: 99
Overtime or Shootout Losses: 32

Straight Win Percentage: 54.51%

Playoff Record:

Series Wins: 3
Series Losses: 4

Of those 4 losses... one to a Portland team who was equal in the standings, 1 to a Memorial Cup Champion, 1 to a WHL Champion and 1 to a team that led the league in points in the regular season with 108 points.

The point is this...

Sumner has had a winning record every season he has been here, he has one Division title and 3 our of the teams 4 playoff exits can be directly attributed to losing to a better team and a 4th that could be argued and was a 1 goal loss in a Game 7.

I know the team is off to a bad start and there are plenty of things to be worried about on the defensive and goaltending end... but these are not a direct result of coaching. Rob Sumner cannot go play for these guys, they have to go out and get themselves fired up and motivated to turn this thing around and start flying around the ice and crashing the net and I can promise everyone that Coach Sumner isn't just conducting practice with his hands in his pockets wishing and hoping the team will just magically play better.

Personally... I think Sumner has built a good enough record with this team that even after a bad season I wouldn't even entertain the notion of replacing him after this season. The team would have to have two horrible seasons before I even thought about it.

So feel free to call for his head and hope and wish that we had a different coach... but you won't find that message here and you won't find anyone in the front office ready to replace the coach.


Anonymous said...

Let’s start from the most current season and work our way backwards. You make the statement that the loss to Tri-City was Seattle was just flat out beat by a better team.

I find that interesting. Why was that? If you look at the roster for Seattle they had more talent than Tri-City at a rate of almost Two to one.

NHL draft picks from the two teams.
1st round 4th overall
1st round15th overall
1st round 29th overall
2nd round 37th overall
3rd round 84th overall
3rd round 86th overall
5th round 131st overall

1st round 18th overall
2nd round 57th overall
2nd round 60th overall
5th round 144th overall

So if Seattle had more talent and yet still lost to "Aaflat out better team" then you just made my point COACHING COACHING COACHING.

I’ll break down the rest of your statement as time allows.

Anonymous said...

WHL/JR talent does not always carry over to the NHL. A guy like Yellow Horn would be LUCKY to ever play in the NHL, or even the AHL or ECHL. I don't know how many people would argue the fact that Pickard is/was a better goalie than Helenius either, and everyone knows to do well in the playoffs a goalie has to preform. Despite what you might think, number of nhl draft picks on a team does not make them better. Look how many draft picks never pan out. Check out a kid like Chris Durand, a second rounder at one point who has practically fallen off the map. Your knowledge, anonymous(common sign in, let us know who you are, have some pride).

Thunnex said...

you want to continue to "break down" my statements... be my guest. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Anonymous said...

I know the T-birds had a slow start last year and I think also the year before, but have come on strong in the second half of the year, I would think that would point toward the coach doing a good job coaching up his team as time goes on.

I think if the T-birds can survive the first half of this loony schedule they will be good down the stretch again. I would like to see one of the D-men step up and be a physical presence, so far from watching the 2 home games the lack of physical play has really stuck out to me.

Having Hickey back certainly helped the T-birds get out of their zone better and having Scott back will help the offense. Tighten up the defense and goaltending and the T-birds will be back in the Ws in no time.

Marc (damn can't remember my logon)

Anonymous said...

Look at Durand's number before the current head coach and after. (Interesting)

Now as for how players pan out everyone has a different opinion but in the end Seattle had more talent all year but finished 4 in the division and Tri-City had less and won the Division that is all about coaching, part of the coaches job is to get the most out of his player and right or wrong if they under perform it is his fault. So to say he is not the one on the ice is a cop out he is responsible for what take place on that ice.

Thunnex said...

Anything else? Look... we can agree to disagree. I respect your opinion, I just think you're wrong and I think you're one of those fans who, when things aren't going right, want to blame and fire a coach just because that would show that something was done... but you just aren't going to convince me that Seattle was better than Tri last year (I saw it with my own eyes) and that Sumner is a coach worthy of being fired after a 12 game stretch. By all means if you want to keep beating that drum, do it, but you aren't going to get any support from this blog for that.

Anonymous said...

Your head is definitely in the sand. There comes a point in a coaches tenture with a team when he has said all the can say and tried to teach all he can teach. Right now unfortunatly the players are not responding to their coaching. No hitting, no passing, poor shot selection and all around half a** effort. It is the nature of the beast that if the talent is there and you are not winning regardless of who the coach is you have to make a change. It is the only way this team will respond. They need a new voice in that room with a new direction.

Anonymous said...

Ok there is someone out there that does agree with your head is in the sand. I don't know who if anyone pays you to write this blog but we all appreciated your efforts and the passion that you show for this team, but there is only one person ultimately responsible for this team and he is receiving a check every week. If he gives back the money then it's a different story but as it stands now his job is to get this team to win other wise why is he being paid. Anyone who goes to games is supporting him being paid.

It’s Time For A Change

Thunnex said...

Fair questions...

1) No I do not get paid one cent by the team to write this blog. I make money from the Ads that appear on the blog and over the entire history of this blog (over a year) I have made exactly $10.77. So you can safely assume my opinions are my own.

2) I totally agree with you... ultimately the buck stops at Rob Sumner and Russ Farwell. MY point is... to judge the job being done by the coach after 12 bad games is outrageous. I believe you must pass judgment on the entire body of work, not just 12 games and I think the same will be true after the season is over or after next season. If the team continued to play like this for the entire year and into next year I think that becomes evidence to point to a change of direction... but after 12 games? 12? really? I think that is Steinbrenner-esque and I think he has proven that he was more successful when he kept one good coach for the long haul (Torre).

That is my only point... I'm not saying Sumner should be given a free pass, but let's not be silly and run a guy out of town on 12 bad games. I hardly call that having your head in the sand… I call that being prudent and calculated.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous, who do you propose to replace Sumner if he is fired? All the good coaches are with teams right now, and you know that Farwell isn't going to open the coffers to pay Constantine/Hartsberg money to bring someone in. So since you want Sumner out so bad, who do you replace him with.

Anonymous said...

I think anonymous would be a great coach. Tell the guys that they are better than the other teams, and therefore they should win. I can see it now, "you guys have been drafted, now go out there and win." I'm 100% with Tyler on this one. Everybody knows someone just like anonymous. They're the guy disgusted that our team doesn't crash the net hard enough, despite the fact that we employ entirely different tactics. Crashing the net is generally not as effective for finesse teams/players, more often reserved for big teams with big grunty forwards. Detroit: Holmstrom crashes the net, but Zetterburg and Datsyuk do not...huh weird...

For at least 3 years (maybe even more) we have been a cycle team. We work the puck behind the net, usually have one player skating towards a puck carrier in order to confuse defenses, while our other forward cylces through the zone and gives an open option.

Yelling "SHOOOOOT" does not help. I am anxious/upset and feel that the birds missed an oppurtunity, but I find that each time I get frustrated, they do something special and prove me wrong.

All I can say is that it figures that you feel you can accurately conclude how good a team is/should be based on the players on the team. In the OHL, John Tavares will either be drafted 1st or 2nd overall, but his team (Oshawa) has been picked by many to finish DEAD LAST(although they have had a good start this season). If you watched any of the series between Tri and Seattle, I don't know how you could argue that we were the better team. Even if we had Hickey, we would have been lucky to win another game. They were dominant, easily the 2nd best team in the WHL, and if you read any material by respected WHL opinions, they'd agree that THAT series really determined the WHL champion.

Anonymous said...

Jon- you don’t have to look far there is a more than viable candidate standing right next to the head coach. Just ask the boys.

Anonymous said...

I think Turner would be a great head coach. Former bird with Stanley cup ring what more could you ask for.

Anonymous said...

if they aren't listening to him as an assistant coach, why would they listen to him as a head coach?

Anonymous said...

Asst. have different role than head. he is there to support right now so he has to take a back seat. I like the idea.

Anonymous said...

Turner seems like a good coach thus far, but lets get real. This is his second season as an ASSISTANT. I don't know what to expect if we offed Robbie and gave Turner the reins. Just cuz he has a Stanley Cup on his list of accomplishments does not mean he can automatically coach.

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