Nov 9, 2008

On Coach Stevens

One of the recent weekly topics over at HLOG was to write about our team's coach. So, for better or worse, here's my take - as of right now - on Coach John Stevens.

During the season that shall not be named, the Flyers waited eight games for eight straight losses, then revamped the GM and Coach. John Stevens moved from the Phantoms, our AHL team, across the parking lot to the big team.

For many, this seemed to be good move due to his history with the organization as 1.) a player for our AHL teams the Hershey Bears and the Philadelphia Phantoms, coincidentally with the latter as the captain during their 1998 Calder Cup championship win, and 2.) as a coach, when he led the Phantoms to their second Calder Cup in 2005.

Currently, I'm of two minds with regard to Johnny for one simple reason: he's too freakin' steady behind the bench! Why is this a problem?

Well, let me start with why I like Coach Stevens being so steady. Last season was awesome for Flyer fans! (Um, until February when everything when further south than an ice cube in the Sahara.) While much of that success came from the guys wearing the equipment and uniforms, another part was due to Stevens' consistency and support. Line shuffling, injuries, and - yes - suspensions happened, but Johnny stayed on-message. He reaffirmed the skills that needed to be developed and the areas that were strong.

But, darn it, he needed to call a few guys out for suckitude! In my view, that only happened once last season. And this is becoming more of my attitude for whatever is going down with the team this year...going down being the operative part of the description.

Honestly, getting the puck in the goal isn't our biggest issue at this point, if the scores from all those seven loses at the start of the season are anything to go by. (And, yes, they are!)

No, our issue is far more ironic than that: defense. Ironic for two simple reasons.

1.) It was our sticking point last season and it's playing out that way yet again.

Right as we headed into the regular season this year, we lost two players who I think could be key to our defense being successful during the 08-09 campaign: Ryan Parent and Randy Jones. And it's not like we lost them for a short time, a la Tiny!Briere. Nope, Parent is out 12-14 weeks and Jones was scheduled for 6-8 weeks.

Also, our defense not playing up to par in terms of positioning, speed, and sheer gutsy-ness means that our goalies are working harder and not as smartly.

2.) John Stevens was a defenseman.


Justin said...

What do you think of the Carle for Downie/Eminger trade?

I'd tell you what I think, but I'm too busy looking for straitjackets for Lightning brass.

Nadine said...

@Justin: Um, truly, no opinion whatsoever. I'm shell-shocked by the collapse. Obviously, I hope for the best, but I'm turning into a pessimistic realist.

Please, once you find those straight jackets for the TBL brass, share those thoughts. Love to hear another hockey fan's take on the weirdness right now.

Justin said...

I really have little in the way of explanation for it. Could losing Jason Smith really mean that much? I mean, sure, losing the captain is kind of a kick in the teeth, but I honestly thought that was just going to give the young guys who were waiting a chance at the big time (I'm looking at you, Mr. Guenin).

If they could have brought him back, though, and jettisoned Hatcher, as I make my distaste for him even more obvious than it already was, you probably would have been better off.

Nadine said...

@Justin: Three words to explain Hatch - no trade clause. His contract wasn't up and he didn't retire.

I'm a bit ambivalent on Gator for some reason. Early-season Gator was not the same a late-season Gator. Though, of course, you'd have to discount the just wasn't the same. (I wonder if his having Peter "Beowulf" Forsberg's number had anything to do it?)

Justin said...

Actually, I was speaking of straight-up buying Hatcher's contract out during the offseason the way that Toronto did with Raycroft and Tucker. Of course, you still would have had that cap hit. I don't know, it's a sticky situation that at least can be rectified with extreme prejudice after this season's over.

I haven't yet watched the game from last night, so I can't really comment on what went on there.