Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How do you assess Wayne Gretzky as a coach?

That's the loaded question that writer John Sanful asked Barry Smith during an interview last week. Of course Smith was the odd man in the Phoenix Coyote hockey operations because he wasn't a friend of Gretzky (or FOG, as Mike Toth would say).

  • IHWC.NET: Can you talk about your time with the Coyotes and how do you assess Wayne Gretzky as a coach?
  • Smith: First of all, as a human being, he's a tremendous person who gives back to everybody. He has no agenda for himself. I found that side of his generosity amazing. As a coach, he is learning as he goes. He understood that he did not have all the answers, so he relied on Rick Tocchet and myself the first year. The second year he did a lot more coaching himself, which is good, because he has to get in situations to understand what it is all about, and he is willing to do that. That's so difficult because everyone demands time from him. I am hoping things go well for him this coming season and he gets the team where he wants them to go.

So for those of us that pondered the disconnect between the bench coach and and management in Phoenix, this makes sense. Gretzky does not have multiple personalities, he just wasn't running the bench.

I've always suspected that Wayne brought in Barry Smith at the recommendation of Scotty Bowman. He was an associate coach for Scotty for years in Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Detroit. Smith actually went to Pittsburgh before Bowman did, he worked with Bob Johnson when they won their first Stanley Cup. Anyhow, according to this fascinating information from an entry on Duhatschek's blog, it appears that St. Petersburg pursued Barry Smith at Igor Larionov's recommendation. In hockey and soccer, it always surprises me how much influence is wielded by retired stars. Though Larionov is probably one guy whose opinion carries a lot of value.

Back to point, the Phoenix franchise is seven kinds of screwed now. With their failure to grow revenues at a rate 1.05 times the league average, the equalization payments from the league will drop. They have spent a lot of coin on players that don't really help you win, and the one decision that can save everyone in hockey management (get a good goalie) looks to be a bad bet from where I'm sitting. It's a downward spiral, it really is. Now I have a gut feeling that Wayne will hire Ray Ferraro as an assistant coach. Portland Coyotes? Kansas City Coyotes? I hope not, because I hate it when teams don't change their nicknames after switching cities.

4 Comments:

Blogger Showerhead said...

Do people even watch hockey in Phoenix? ESPN.com has their 03/04, 05/06, and 06/07 total attendance ranked 19th, 22nd, and 24th respectively. They haven't even threatened to be good in their ~10 years a club. Being a Winnipeg resident (though the Jets didn't get any of my love) I for one will not miss the Coyotes when they go.

5/09/2007 10:47 am  
Blogger namflashback said...

The Kansas City Slow-Cooked Ribs
The Portland Rainmakers
The Kansas City Twisters
The Portland Clamdiggers
The Las Vegas Poledancers

5/09/2007 12:49 pm  
Blogger YKOil said...

Latest rumors have Phoenix trying to snag Fernandez out of Minnesota. In a way it is a smart move - trying to snag one of the better goalies that may be on the trade market - I just think it is silly myself.

Backstrom & Giguere are better bets from where I sit while word is Hillier (highly regarded Swiss tender) will come over the pond. I also like Garon.

Also... trading for Fernandez only:
a) makes Minny stronger, and
b) increases the payroll a LOT

Barring all world performances by their players next year, or some amazing personnel moves by management, Phoenix is hooped.

5/09/2007 6:56 pm  
Blogger YKOil said...

oh yeah

great post Vic

5/09/2007 6:56 pm  

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