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04-12-2013, 03:48 PM
  #96
Sturminator
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I've become sort of fascinated by Tommy Gorman since signing on with Reen's team, and have done some more research on his career. This work has been fairly fruitful, and I think adds meaningfully to Gorman's legacy as a coach. The more we learn about Gorman, the longer his shadow grows, and I think it is time to start talking about him as one of the upper tier of all-time coaches. First, it appears that Gorman coached the Ottawa Senators in the 1923-24 season, in which the team finished 1st in the regular season standings, and lost to the Habs in the NHL playoffs.

9.10.1924 - The Calgary Daily Herald:

Quote:
Pete Green to Coach Ottawa Hockey Club

Peter "Doc" Green, so long familiar as Ottawa's famous athletic coach, will be back in his old role again. Ottawa's management announced that Petie had been signed on to coach the Senators this coming winter.

...

Last year Petie was not with the Senators, the coaching duties being divided between Eddie Gerard and Tommy Gorman.
So this adds one pretty successful season to Gorman's career. Next, his time behind the bench of the New York Americans was also highly successful. To wit:

New York Americans 1927-28: 11-27-6 // 63 GF; 128 GA - manager Shorty Green

New York Americans 1928-29: 19-13-12 // 53 GF; 53 GA - best winning % in franchise history - manager Tommy Gorman

11.1.1929 - The Montreal Gazette:

Quote:
New York Crowds Want More Goals

That old hockey cry of "more goals" has broken out in New York with renewed force within the last few days, due in part to the almost goalless contests staged between two of the league's bitterest rivals, the New York Rangers and the New York Americans.

...

On the other hand, Lester Patrick, manager of the Rangers, believes that the present rules do not need any revision. He claims that his team have done a fair amount of scoring in most of their league games, and that the only reason they do not cage the puck more against their intra-city rivals is because the A's present an air-tight defensive system, which is almost as effective as the famed "kitty-bar-the-door" style of game perfected some years ago.
20.3.1929 - The Morning Leader:

Quote:
The Rangers tried some of their patented passing combinations, but the Gorman squad blocked everything offered. The latter did not do much on their own account, leaving two men at the blue line on every thrust.
9.7.1929 - The Montreal Gazette:

Quote:
Gorman, in announcing his resignation today, said he had been appointed assistant general manager of the new Agua Calientes race track in Mexico. He will retain his post as secretary of the Connaught Park Jockey Club. The irrepressible Tommy has been an outstanding figure in hockey for years. He was part owner and manager of the Ottawa Senators before going to New York and turned out several championship teams. Gorman is given a great amount of credit for the showing made by the Americans last year, when he made a mediocre team into a championship contender.
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The difference in goals against from the year before Gorman took over to the season he coached the team is just ridiculous. They went from being an awful defensive team to a strong one in a single season with Tommy Gorman behind the bench, and he was lauded for it by other managers and in the press. This was the best winning percentage the Amerks would ever have in the 17 year existence of the franchise.

As seventies likes to say, once is random, and twice may be luck, but three times is a pattern. Gorman went to three straight franchises, which ranged from terrible to middling, and improved them all greatly in a single season, making two of them into world champions. In the process, Gorman introduced to the world of hockey the art of forechecking, which is quite possibly the single most significant system innovation in the history of the sport, and which had a profound impact on hockey that is still felt today, on every shift, in every league.

After the introduction of forechecking, we begin to see talk of "ganging attacks" in the offensive zone in which all five skaters are inside of the opposing blueline, the shifts become shorter and the game speeds up due to the energy required to forecheck effectively. We see junior and NHL teams adopting this system in the subsequent years, and in 1938 icing rules are being introduced to hockey, almost certainly as a way to prevent defenses from simply flinging the puck down the ice when under pressure from a heavy forecheck. Gorman's innovation changed the face of hockey (the evidence for this is all in the last section of the bio).

Gorman's teams improved dramatically after he took over. The information on the Amerks' turnaround is above, but here is the season-to-season difference in Chicago and Montreal:

1932-33 Chicago Blackhawks: 16-20-12 // 88 GF; 101 GA - managers Emil Iverson, Godfrey Matheson, Tommy Gorman

1933-34 Chicago Blackhawks: 20-17-11 // 88 GF; 83 GA - Stanley Cup Champions - manager Tommy Gorman

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1933-34 Montreal Maroons: 19-18-11 // 117 GF; 122 GA - manager Eddie Gerard

1934-35 Montreal Maroons: 24-19-5 // 123 GF; 92 GA - Stanley Cup Champions - manager Tommy Gorman

Gorman's Cup winning teams put up what is probably the most dominant two year stretch in NHL postseason history, going a combined 11-1-3 and outscoring their opponents 35-20, although both were considered underdogs.

Researching Tommy Gorman has proven surprisingly easy. There is a ton of material out there on him, which I guess makes sense considering his stature in the sport and level of success. Gorman was obviously an extremely bright hockey mind, and he was also known as a great motivator and players' coach (this stuff is all in the bio). Adding the year he spent behind the Ottawa bench, he coached for nine seasons in the NHL, which isn't a long career, but it isn't particularly short, either. I am convinced that Gorman is among the very best coaches in hockey history. His leadership and ability to get the best out of his players, his repeated and dramatic success with teams of limited talent, and the hugely innovative system he introduced all paint the picture of a special coach.

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edit: just to be clear, I think Gorman probably ends up in the next tier of coaches after the top-5. I would say the top two tiers look like this:

Bowman
Blake
Arbour
Patrick
Tarasov

-------------------

Shero
Day
Gorman

Yes, this means I'm saying he was a better coach than Tommy Ivan, Dick Irvin and Jack Adams, among others. Tommy Gorman is extremely similar to Fred Shero in terms of career accomplishments, style and value.


Last edited by Sturminator: 04-13-2013 at 06:33 AM.
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