NHL Week in Review (December 31-January 6)

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Being a head coach of any professional team is a tough thing as there is a balance between pushing players and trying not to push them too far.

This all happens while your job is on the line on a constant basis as any stumble could mean that a coach has coached their last game for that team.

Trying to make sure you have the players behind you and playing for you without losing them can be extremely tough and is where the coaches earn their money.

As the season moves on for the teams, coaches are playing that constant balancing act and always trying to get their players to play up for the entire season.

It doesn’t always happen and when teams have a lot of talent and begin to struggle a lot of the blame falls on the coach.

Then it is up to the coach to figure out how he can get the team on the same page and playing the way they should be playing.

It can be a frustrating pursuit and the pressure can certainly get to the coaches and things can get a little strange.

That is what happened this week in Calgary as head coach Glen Gulutzan was seen yelling at his team and throwing his stick into the stands.

The incident was during a practice after the Flames had just started a small win streak of two games.

It left many wondering why the head coach would go on a rant as the team wasn’t necessarily performing terribly at the time.

He might not have been happy with their wins and how they got the wins but the fact was the Flames were riding a good stretch.

Usually, coaches get angry when their team can’t seem to find the motivation to play games and get the wins they need.

They rarely get mad when things are going well especially the day after a good team win like the one the Flames went through the day before the practice.

This is where the hockey world becomes split as for some this is a great way to keep the team playing hard while others see it as unnecessary.

For Gulutzan, it was a response to a terrible practice that was sluggish and not up to par even if they were playing great on game day.

During the rant, he can be heard being sarcastic telling the team how good they were and then telling them to look at the standings.

In his own mind, Gulutzan was making sure that his team didn’t rest when things were going good.

It is an old theory but one that continues to stand tall when coaching, when things are going well tear your players down and when things are going poorly build them up.

Essentially the entire theory is based on not letting your players get too comfortable with success but also not letting them get too down when they are struggling.

It can be a good way to manage the team and help them play at a certain level without getting too high or too low.hockey-sidebar

That will help a team stay on the right path and keep them heading to the playoffs and possibly to the Stanley Cup.

Gulutzan was taking that theory and putting it into practice ensuring that his players don’t take a day off.

They are far from guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and just after they started winning is not the time for them to rest on how they did.

For some people watching the rant was too much and throwing the stick was far too over the top and unnecessary.

Aside from the concern over the look of the rant, concern that is unwarranted as he has probably said and done worse, there is a concern over what the players think.

They could take it as a bit of an affront because their efforts are not being appreciated by their coach.

Despite them winning they can’t seem to get any praise and that can sometimes force players to be lost by the coach.

Without the buy-in from the players they can never find their way to the playoffs and losing the players is always a risk when criticising the players.

Most likely though this rant will have the desired effect as the players may not be thrilled about being yelled at but they are certainly going to hear their coach after a bad practice.



Top of the World

The World Juniors is a great place to see the future of the NHL play as many of the best players in the world are in the tournament. NHL scouts watch closely as potential players and current prospects play in the biggest tournament for the age group. This year there was plenty to watch with a great group of players all looking to make an impression. That tournament ended in a very familiar way as the Canadians took gold after playing the Swedes in the gold medal game.

Juniors in the Olympics

 The CHL has announced that they are fully behind Hockey Canada which opens the doors for the best prospects in the world to participate in the Olympics. Without the NHL the best Olympic teams in the world are looking to try to find the best teams they can to play in the biggest tournament in hockey. It could allow the best junior players in the world to participate bringing youth to the tournament and a lot of potential for those big teams.

All-Star Captains

  At the end of the month, the NHL will head to Tampa Bay for the All-Star game the first step in the process was announced this week. That is when the league announced the captains for this year’s teams who will look to lead their team to a win. That responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Alexander Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, PK Subban and Connor McDavid. These three players represent some of the best in the world and they will help to make the All-Star festivities memorable in Florida.

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