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A word about Coaches

Yesterday, the Tbirds officially announced Steve Konowalchuk as their new Head Coach. Konowalchuk (which, for the purposes of brevity we'll call Coach K from this point on) has WHL and NHL playing experience and NHL coaching experience before arriving in Seattle.

I've seen it stated here on the blog and other places that Coach K is "great hire" or a "good hire" by most fans, presumably based on the aforementioned playing and coaching experience.

Here is the thing about coaches...

My belief is that coaches generally fall into 1 of 3 categories. You are either a really good, difference making coach who can influence the game in a positive way and have the ability to get players to play up to and beyond their potential. You are a really bad coach who can make a difference in a negative way or you are somewhere in the middle. I would say that 10% fall into the upper category, 10% fall into the bottom and the rest are in the middle.

Most coaches really don't have that much effect on the game. I know that is really hard for people to believe and especially the people who have apparently felt like Rob Sumner was on the ice for the past two seasons while the team missed the playoffs. Coaches just don't have that much impact on games. A great coach can make a difference and a bad coach can make a difference in the wrong direction but it is the players who control the outcome of the game a majority of the time.

Coach K even confirmed this yesterday by saying that the system the team played was less important than the players buying into that system and then going out and executing that system. (Shout out to Thom Beuning for a great interview with Steve and can be found here.)

I'm getting a little off track... but here is the point. Coach K may have WHL and NHL playing experience and NHL coaching experience but that doesn't mean he is automatically a "good hire" or even a "good coach". The most obvious and glaring example was Isaiah Thomas in the NBA. Great player, horrible coach. Coaches also don't have to have NHL playing experience to be a great coach. Don Hay has NHL coaching experience but never played in the NHL.

I think it's great that GM Russ Farwell was able to hire a coach with such extensive playing and coaching experience but that isn't going to automatically ensure that he will be a great coach. It also won't change the fact that Seattle has four years worth of busted 1st round bantam selections or that Seattle will be pretty short on defense if Ryan Button isn't returned by the Boston Bruins.

Hopefully for the sake of the Seattle Thunderbirds and their fans this IS a "great hire" but the fact is... we probably won't get a verdict on that for a couple of years.


Mr Tell13 said...

Tyler, great post on the subject. I think a lot of peoples are forguetting that playing careers do not mean much. You can get countless examples of coaches that are succesful that were not players, players that are not great coaches and everything in between. Success in the upper level does not equal quality in coaching. Heck, even bad coach can win a Stanley cup.
What was mentionned in the interview is so true. Players need to buy in to the coach system and execute it to have success. Period.

One thing that worries me is stability, regarless of success. You look at coaches that were up and coming or that tasted the NHL level, they have very short renure in the Junior level. Is the team destined to look for a coach every 3 years to keep up?

Anonymous said...

On his interview on KJR Konowalchuk says his plan is to be here at least until his kids finish school. His youngest, his son, is 11 so apparently his plan is to be here for at least 7 years. Of course if he has great success before then and the NHL comes for those calling it a great hire, that's like saying its a great dinner before even having a taste of the food.

Jay said...

I don't really see where anyone is posting that this is a "great" hire though. I have seen people post that they like or don't like the hire. But nobody saying that he is going to be great or terrible. Sounds like we are trying to make something out of nothing.

Still for next season I am just hoping every win or loss isn't about how Sumner would have done, and more focused on the future. Our fans lately seem to be so focused on analyzing every detail about every player, coach and other fans that they have forgotten that they too are just fans and should get back to being that. We used to be a loud ambitious crowd, and I would love to get back to being just that. Maybe it's time for our fans to step up our game.

Anonymous said...

I love Jay's comment about us being fans - amen! And to that end, I will say that the reason I think it is a "good hire" is because there is good energy and good buzz, not because I think he will ensure a M Cup win in the next year or two or even three.
Last season there was mountains of negative energy surrounding the coaching and the team, this is a breath of fresh air and I hope we can get back to being the awesome supportive fans we can be! Go T-Birds!!!

Anonymous said...

I like the hire because it seems like Russ looked and thought outside of the box on this one. I am not saying coach K is going to get us to the WHL final next year but from the standpoint of intrigue and excitement, I am fired up for next year. Great point on the first rounders those have been busts and need to improve in the coming years.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Tyler. It will take a little time, especially at this level, to see the success of the new coaches system. Unfortunately, I can't see that many drastic changes being made for me to purchase the amount of tickets that my family did last year. The kids will be disappointed since they really love hockey and it was a great environment (minus that chant).
One thing that needs to change is ticket prices for children. To expensive for a family environment.

Thunnex said...

To be honest, I've never really understood the idea that Thunderbirds hockey is "too expensive".

A single game youth ticket is $12.

Ticket to the zoo - $11.50
Movie ticket - $9.00
Storm ticket - $14

Those are just the ones I could easily find on a quick survey.

When you factor in the fact that there is free parking... I'm not really sure how much cheaper tickets are supposed to be. $5 kids tickets? Free kids?

I get that if you bring a family of two adults and two kids to the game that amounts to $56... but I would say that most entertainment activities are going to be similar.

Anonymous said...

For families there are the 4 pack deals on Sundays -$48 do that and get a flex pack and you could get in a fair amount of games for decent $$

Anonymous said...

Sundays or Tuesdays can be a no go. The average ticket that I know about is $22.00 for the remaining games that I have purchased. Unless I am being told wrong by the box office then I am assuming the price is $22.00 unless I buy season or a 24 ticket plex prices. Show me how to save money and I will be happy to save.

Anonymous said...

Clearification...Read above and tell me the youth ticket prices...I've been told differently by the box office.

Anonymous said...

You can get $16 dollar tickets in the end where the T Birds shoot once, that's not bad, you just need to get those ahead of time to ensure you and your family those tickets, for week end games you probably won't get a walk up $16 dollar ticket.

Anonymous said...

Why not buy a flex pack??

Anonymous said...

Tyler - thoughts on the draft?

Anonymous said...

Down year for the WHL in the NHL draft. 13 WHL teams, over half the league, didn't even have one player drafted. So the T-birds did well getting two players selected and they both went about where they were expected. Still, thought Luke might get picked in the late rounds. Hope he gets a camp invite. Meanwhile two Seattle list players (Josiah Didier, 4th rd) and Seth Ambroz (5th rd) were also drafted althought Ambroz dropped like a rock after being pegged as a potential 1st rd, top ten pick just a year ago. Didier is from Colorado and will attend Denver U. Ambroz, from Minnesota, is going to the Univ. of Minn.

Anonymous said...

Oops, should have been 13 teams, over half the league, had less players drafted than Seattle. six had zero players drafted, 7 had just one.

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