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06-04-2004, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Lionel Hutz
Job of a coach is to win, sure, but there is more to it than that. ie some teams have gone with free-wheeling coaches to put butts in the seats (ie: granato)

I guess I'm just biased against the trap and poor clutch and grab "bring the game down to our level" coaching, which is what Lamire is the epitomy of. He will never get my vote, except for in a poll with the title: "which coach has done the most to ruin NHL hockey?"
I agree that what Lemaire did in New Jersey was bad for hockey. With the offensive talent he had on those teams he could have played more open and possibly still won. Forcing teams full of scorers and snipers to skate backwards through the neutral zone all night does indeed ruin hockey.

But when you have an expansion team filled with a bunch of guys no one wanted it's a little different. You have to play defense first. There is no way you can run and gun with the big boys. That has been true since 1967. You think every team in the 80's wanted to go toe-to-toe with the Oilers in a shootout? Hell no. There were teams back then that played defense first too. And they weren't all coached by Jacques Lemaire.

THe GMs of expansion franchises have a choice, they can play a fairly entertaining style and get drubbed for 3 or 4 years (see Blue Jackets, Columbus), or they can try and be competitive right away, by playing to keep it close and hope for some bounces (see Wild, Minnesota). Risebrough wanted to be competitive. He knew what he was getting in Lemaire.

Give the Wild some credit, yes, they didn't win as much this year, missing their one gunner and not getting as many bounces accounts for a lot of that. When you're playing the thin margin they are that will happen. Contrast that to Anaheim who actually changed their style and opened up just a little. Now that was a horror show.

It's real easy to point to one guy and say "He ruined hockey." But the fact is the other 29 coaches did as much or more. No one held a gun to their heads after the Devils won and said "copy that style." They were lazy. It's hard work to come up with a style that works and to get the 16 guys on your team to buy what you're selling. It's a lot easier to say "See? It worked for them. Let's do the same thing they did." And who can blame them? They get Zero support from management and winning IS the bottom line. The league lets the trap work, it produces wins and it's job security for guys who don't have much from the day they're hired.

When it comes to the trap, there is PLENTY of blame to go around. Lemaire deserves a lot, sure. But most certainly not all of it.

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