Eddie Olczyk was one of the worst coaches ever. If you can't tell by his subpar color commentary...it was unclear if the Penguins even had practices while he was the coach...the last of the Country Club coaches...
He had a poor roster, but he really made it worse...he had no business being behind an NHL bench, I think he was with USA Hockey too..oh all those poor, young hockey players out there...
Yes, but weren't there some mitigating legitimate family issues that required his attention during his stint as Pens coach? I seem to recall some talk of a sick daughter or something along those lines.
Mind you, I'm not disputing your point or saying that he would have been dramatically better if there weren't such a distraction.
If you're talking bad Penguins coaches, I'd think you have to put Pierre Creamer above Olczyk ... and then there was the failed Ivan Hlinka experiment, although Hlinka's failure is mitigated by the language barrier and the fact that his reputation in international circles was pretty damn good.
Bill Wirtz + any GM for the Hawks during their demise.
According to reports Wirtz turned down better deals for Roenick because of his moronic nature. Islanders offered something like Palffy, Green, Lachance and something else. I would take that deal over Zhamnov and Mills. Blues reportedly offered Hull, Corson and another player but Wirtz didnt want another Hull in the club...
Here's some more about Laforge's infamous gauntlet drill
One day they were doing a gauntlet drill, which was virtually unheard of in the pro ranks, something one presumes was used in junior to either punish players or get them ready for contact after recovering from an injury. The idea was to have the player go down the boards with the whole team lined up in front of him, each standing maybe three feet away from said boards. As the fellow came through, each player would lower his shoulder into the guy.
Rota was an NHL all-star two years previous and was injured the season before, doctors determining he needed spinal fusion surgery that summer in order to return to play. Evidently LaForge thought the gauntlet drill would be a good test, but Rota re-injured his neck by the penalty box as he was clearly not ready for this treatment (nobody was) and he promptly retired. We'll never know how long or how well he could have played had he been rehabbed properly.
Coach...There are many candidates but I will go with Laforge. I read about this guy in a book called Slapshots by Stephen Cole and I was incredulous.
Ya, LaForge was Hardcore Psycho, somewhere between John Brophy & Eddie Shore. You mentioned The Gauntlet; players lining up 3' out from the boards about 3' apart in a row, the incoming basically getting stapled, nail gunned & sledge hammered absolutely full-on.
LaForge insisted on pulling this completely idiotic primeval stunt in Vancouver (lasted about 22 games) as well. Darcy Rota, then a top producer and not far off from leading the Canucks in goals "all time" is recovering from a serious neck injury. Forced to run the Gauntlet, gets hurt again & cant play at all, eventually retires from the NHL & hockey altogether prematurely as a result.
LaForge however was fairly successful at the Jr levels, always with wins in 600-700% range. Still though, head case. He'd have his players sit on the bench during the pre-game skate. Just sit there staring at the opposition making their rings around the goalie & taking shots, loosening up, all in an attempt to intimidate them. Just sit there scowling, "gunning" em. Not saying a word. Then when the pre-game skate was over, single file into the dressing room like a bunch of psychopathic assassin robots....
... while coaching in the CHL, challenged Dave Dryden, coaching the opposition to a fistfight at centre ice. Dryden obliged, but that was it for LaForge. Got a 50 game suspension, effectively ejected from the league. Was hired by Tri-City Americans, but the players, Jr's mind you, they all went on strike & presented a petition to the GM before LaForge even arrived.
All kinds of crazy stories about Wild Bill... actually "adopted" some 17yr old behemoth of a player out of Delta BC, 6'3" 220lb Natural Born Killer.... When coaching in Niagara Falls Tie Domi begs him for a tryout, walkon. Bill ignores him until Domi says "look, I'll take on your best fighter right now & if I win I get a tryout, Ok?. So, who's your best fighter?". LaForge finally replying, telling Domi "I am"....
... purportedly had the trainers file out the bottom rims of the players visors to razor sharp edges, then instructed them leave the helmet on in a fight. Pity the poor kid throwing punches into that Ronco Vega-Matic of a nightmare. Like sticking your hand in a wheat thresher, under the plate of a frikin Lawnboy without first cutting the engine...
Died young did Bill LaForge. Heart attack at 53 in 2005. Quite the character. Just no way no how could you pull & get away with NHL players what he did at the Junior level. He deserves to be on this list, even though less than what was it, 22, 24 or 26 games in total?
Edit Note; I see Uncle Rotter dug up the Rota story... plenty more "out there". Most amusing fellow was Bill LaForge provided you didnt play for him I should think.
... deserves to be on this list as well. First 3yrs as Coach in Vancouver he does manage to make the Playoffs but consistently under 500. In 82, he gets Suspended for getting into a fracas with fans in Quebec, replaced by interim Coach Roger Neilson. Team suddenly starts winning, Roger kept in place, goes all the way to the SC Finals. Neale eventually fires Neilson in 84, replaces him with Bill Laforge (mentioned up page) who lasts like 20 games, going behind the bench again himself, losing. Amongst other crazy trades, forever remembered & reviled in Vancouver for letting Cam Neely get away. Moves on to Detroit, lasts 35 games behind the bench. Like Milbury, off to the broadcast booth, where Harry enjoyed a lengthy career as a colour commentator with HNIC. Was actually at one time a top Leaf prospect, winning the Memorial Cup in the 50's with the Marlboros. As a Coach & GM, not so good.