Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ron Wilson - The Fastest Juggler Since Ringling Brothers

There's a quite fascinating article on Ron Wilson in the Mercury today, and his tendency to swap lines around. Other coaches- Dave Tippet from the Stars, Mike Babcock from the Red Wings, and Scotty Bowman, are also quoted.

I think these other coaches ain't got nothing on Ron Wilson. He throws out so many different looks in a single game I bet the NHL scorekeepers curse his name. In the case of the Wings, Zetterberg and Datsyuk almost always play together on even-strength and the PP, and with the Stars, Brendan Morrow and Mike Ribiero are also paired. I can't name a single offensive pairing that has really been consistent this entire year. Joe and Michalek would be the closest thing we got, but I can think of plenty of times they didn't play together.

This quote from Wilson is particularly interesting:

I don't have the time to wait for a guy to play well. It might take only one guy or two guys that can ruin everybody else's effort by not being alert, by not being involved. Your job as a coach is to recognize that right off the bat. You go down and say it's got to be better, then when it's not that next shift or two - boom! - you change lines.
I'm no hockey coach, but I question the wisdom of this. Two bad shifts gets you demoted? What if you've been clicking with a player for the past two or three games- one bad period and you're back to square one?

I've been playing hockey for over ten years now. There are players that I've played with for so long where I just know their style, and I know where they are going to be and what they are going to do without having to watch. We're more than the sum of our parts. In my view, shuffling lines this readily stunts the ability of the players to form those kinds of relationships with other players. Gretz just knew where Kurri was going to be. Can Marleau say that about Torrey Mitchell? No matter- he'll be playing with Marcel Goc tomorrow night.

He's won over a thousand games as a head coach, so clearly Ron Wilson knows a little bit about coaching. But is this the right style for this group? Can't you motivate players without flipping them around like a three card Monty game? Isn't building confidence in your players also a worthy goal?

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