Ok, good news first – Davis Payne is expected to stay on as head coach of the St. Louis Blues for next season, getting that nasty “interim” dropped from his title. It has yet to be officially announced, and I am guessing that is because of the Blues’ wishes to give Keith Tkachuk his moment, but the announcement should be coming soon. He turned the season around, almost brought us to .500 at home (woot) and helped us finish just slightly out of the playoff picture from what began the season as a near certain basement languishing one. Much congrats to him – here’s looking forward to the House of Payne.
On the other coaching side (it’s not really bad news, but it is a bit much), the Thrashers have regressed into Degrassi Junior High. Timmy breaks down what Kozlov said, and what Anderson said in the AJC over on BWA. The tit for tat between Kozlov’s comments and Anderson’s comments (especially when played in your head with their voices) are actually borderline comical. Total polar opposite interpretations of the situation that they were in. It really, seriously, is a personality conflict. That may or may not have been the reason that Kozlov was benched, but it certainly played into it. Kozlov is a type A, and extremely serious. I can understand how that mindset might not fit well on Anderson’s team. I found this quote from Anderson interesting:
“If you know Kozzy, he is very straight-laced, very rigid. I was brought in to try and change the culture here. I believe you are allowed to smile at practice and you are allowed to have fun. I want it to be a workplace where you say, ‘Man, I’m glad I’m here.’ That’s what I tried to convey. If he portrayed that I don’t work hard, then I think he’s wrong because we have film [work] every day, every power play even. We are prepared.”
Not everyone will adapt to a way of thought, especially someone who is set in their ways as much as Kozlov probably is. But in his defense, any time I have seen a practice, it seems extremely light, especially the morning skate that I observed before the first game against the Pens in November. I realize that AM skate isn’t a practice, and really isn’t time to go into deep coaching, but you do need to work on some things and fine tune things for the game that evening. It didn’t strike me that way at all. Anderson does not seem a high intensity guy (though his other coaches do seem to be a bit higher than he is), and considering the fact that he might be passive could very easily emphasize the enjoyment of the game over the actual purpose of the game – to win the Cup. I hate to make it so coroprate and direct, but that is Anderson’s job – to prepare them to compete for the Stanley Cup. I don’t care if you have a pinata at center ice filled with bubblegum and rainbows, but if you are not working towards that ultimate goal, then you have no business being a professional ice hockey team.
Anderson may or may not have iced the lines that he felt were the best for the team, but certainly the coaching staff did not promote the jump and consistency necessary. There was no intensity during the first period (occasionally period and a half) of a good number of games. I’m sure that they watched the video, and this was pointed out to them, but it was never fixed.
I know Anderson was brought in to, as he put it, “change the culture” of the Thrashers. He does need to remember the many younger kids on the ice that we have, and they need some sort of structure and guidance from the people at the top. Absolutely never stress fun over work (or even indirectly do so) with youth. Don’t be a tyrant, either, but you have to have some way of being stern, getting results, and then laying back. Fun should be a reward for hard work, not necessarily part of it.