Utica Comets AHL Discussion - Part IX
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04-13-2013, 01:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Far as the coach goes, I think the Canucks will have the absolute final decision in that. Believe Arneil will be back but I sure hope they bring in some skill coaches to work with the players.
As to what went wrong (and maybe early to do a post mortem), I think the your idea of the the situation being a result of a combination factors may be most correct. One key factors is injuries. All of the following have missed significant time
Some like Mullen, Matson, Lack have basically missed the season. Some of theses losses were critical. Losing Lack meant Climie had to be overplayed. Mullen was suppose to be their PP quarterback. Also, losing people like Miller was important b/c these players provided something of a glue factor. Moreover, many that came back from injury never got back to where they were. Clearly many were playing injured. People like Gordon, Longpre, Hunt and Sterling never really returned to form
Also you had the constant calling up and sending down of players. Every team had this but the Wolves were thin to begin with and simply couldn't do much when players like Schroeder and Ebbett were recalled.
Beyond that several new players came in at the end that were not familiar with how the team played. Some, in fact, like Jensen, Blomstrand and Lain had little to no experience with NA pro hockey.
In the end the lineup was never set for any prolonged period and this lack of continuity prevented a good team system from being established. Other teams may have had similar problems but few, I think, to the extent the Wolves have had.
Also, critical was the weakness at the center position. Before the lockout ended it was OK, but after the NHL came back, it was never much good. Gordon was switched in from the wing and provided some temporary good play. But then he got hurt and with the Schroeder call up the Wolves had virtually nothing. They got decent defensive efforts out of Kattelus but he was never AHL caliber IMO. Another converted winger in Longpre started OK but after he got hurt he was useless and could provide no offense. Schneider showed glimpses of adequate play but was generally very poor and both Friesen and Mallet were in over their heads at this level.
Could also say there was aspects of the coaching that left you wondering. The special team play was never much good. After a miserable start they improved on the PP for awhile when they got Haydar and Hunt on the points. However, teams adjusted and this quickly became a liability. Teams just put pressure on Haydar or waited for one of his languid cross ice passes and broke away for short handed goals. Some of the third period losses were a direct result of this. Employing this formation, especially when you were up in the third, never made any sense and the coaches should get lots of criticism here.
Moreover, moving out Joslin was idiotic. He was playing like 30 minutes a game and, with Andersson, formed the bulwark of a good defense. Indeed the main success of the team throughout much of the year was relying on their defense and Climie to eek out narrow wins. When Joslin left and Andersson got hurt the defense fell apart and the only chance the team had was getting some goals against the run of the play and hoping Climie could stand on his head.
Also Joslin's replacement Groulx was terrible. He looked totally uncommitted and was probably damaged good to start with. Groulx continuously made long hoper passes from his own end and never moved much to support the play
Could also say the trading away of Connauton hurt the defense. While Connauton often did as much wrong as he did right, he was one of the back-enders that could force the play and get some offensive push.
By the end their were so many new players and changes in combinations that the defense lost the any co-ordination. In the game tonight, the slot and front of the net were incredibly open. It just didn't look like professional hockey.
I would say another factor was the schedule. For much of the year, the Wolves got a lot of home games and an easier schedule. Payed for this over the last while with a string of road games close together. Given all the other problems they had, the team was seemingly unable to overcome the schedule and just began to fall apart.
Again, the Wolves might surprise and put a series of wins together and make the playoffs. There have been times when the team has looked to be headed into the tank, when they turned it around and pulled off some wins. However, given this game and the general trend over the last while it is a lot more likely the team just fades away. In the end the relationship b/w the Wolves and the Canucks has not been that great. Sometimes the dual agendas have conflicted. More than that, the Canucks do not have much depth in their system and attempt to plug holes with vets like Vandermeer, Mancari, etc.. have not made up for this problem.
Going their own way was essential for the Canucks and probably the Wolves.
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