Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The one post in which I say Don Cherry is onto something

The Kingston Whig-Standard offers their "hometown boy" article on the ascent of Scott Arniel to the head coaching position for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  A very nice piece, punctuated by some love for Kingston's other star player, Scott Howson:
"It was a dream to play in the NHL and it's been a dream to get back as a head coach," said Arniel, a member of the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame, along with his granddaddy Jimmy. 
"It's something I've been aspiring to for the past 11 years. Still, when the opportunity came I wanted to be sure I aligned myself with the right GM," he added, referring to former Kingston Canadian Scott Howson.
Pleasantries accomplished, the article morphed into a commentary from Don Cherry that, surprise-surprise, I kinda agree with...

"My only question is why did it take so long?" Donald S. Cherry asked the caller from Kingston. 
"Scotty's one of the new breed of NHL coaches; Kirk (Muller) will be there, too, you wait and see, and Kevin Dineen. These guys played the game, know the game, know what it takes. Most of them were second-, third-, fourth-line players. Look at the best baseball managers. Very few stars, eh?
"Stars do it," Ol' Highcollar stated. "The others learn to do it."
There's something to that school of thought. Think about it - Wayne Gretzky was amazing on the ice and mediocre at best behind the bench.  And it also is at the core of my skepticism about Steve Yzerman as General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  (Yzerman, however, had the good sense to study the craft for four years under one of the best GM's in the business, Ken Holland, before striking out on his own.)

Arniel, however, is one of those guys who had to learn.  And he did.

So whaddya know...I was able to look beyond Don Cherry's bluster and wardrobe.  Go figure.


  1. I wouldn't compare ex players as gm's to ex players as coaches. Plenty about being a player prepares you to coach, little about being a player prepares you to GM.

  2. Dark Blue JacketJune 10, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    In most cases, I'd agree. Yzerman, however, spent over 20 years with the Red Wings - the majority as captain. One can presume that he was given plenty of exposure to how the front office works, if not being brought into the loop on some personnel decisions.

    The parallel isn't perfect between coaching and front office for ex-jocks, but it's closer for Yzerman than one might initially think.

    Thanks for raising this notion...I wrote this post as the Stanley Cup finals was winding down and, as a result, was a tad distracted. Not my finest blog post.