I'll submit that this just happened with the Columbus Blue Jackets, as reported by Tom Reed at Puck Rakers. While not the deathbed revelation of Charley Kane (luckily not as cryptic, either), Ken Hitchcock had perhaps the most cogent argument for staying the course with the Blue Jackets despite their 20 loss in 23 game stretch and both fans and media turning their backs on the franchise.
It turns out, after all, that this is part of a larger franchise strategy. I'll let Hitch speak for himself:
"We maxed out last year and we didn't win a playoff game. We have to get a lot better than that and the only way you do that is by going through the growing pains.THERE! That's it. The team leadership had a plan last year - playoffs or bust - and executed it to within an inch of their lives. But they were wise enough to appreciate that getting to the playoffs and doing something once you're there are two different things. So they considered their options and decided to suck it up and go the youth route. It's the long view, but, as Hitch says, the team will be really good when they need to be really good.
"We are in a winning business and so people have complained that we're not winning right now. If we don't go through this long-term vision -- which could be six months, it could be a year -- then we are not going to be really good when we need to be really good."
So Hitch plays the youngsters as he can (Voracek, Brassard), benches them when he has to (Mason, Russell, Methot). And some just don't want to go through the growing pains as a team member (Filatov).
“It would be easy to sit out young guys and play stop-gap (players) but we are not doing that," Hitchcock said. "We trust how good these guys are going to be.Now that we have a better understanding of what the plan actually is - take the lumps now, go through the growing pains and develop a robust team that can be competitive for years to come, I'm actually much more tolerant of the losing. Sure, I'd like to go to the playoffs every year. But I'd like to win once I got there - and if that can't happen with the roster as evaluated by Hitch and Howson, then go to Plan B and use Nashville as a model.
“We’ve got a plan and we’re willing to stick with it,” Hitchcock said. “And if it costs me my job then it costs me my job, but there is a plan."