There's not much to say now about the Ted Nolan firing as it's all been taken care of. From my perspective I have to say that I am not happy that we have lost the best coach that we've had since Peter Laviolette. Teddy was one of the only few bright spots on this team, causing a team of underachievers and overrated veterans to actually be a competitive hockey team. But when Teddy's frustrations mounted it became a relationship that could no longer exist.
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Teddy is a coach that likes to win. Of course that can be said for any coach, but he is not the one for raising kids, hence why he consistently chose the vets over the youngsters with inexperience in all situations, even when the older guys couldn't get the job done. I myself was frustrated with that as well. As much as I understood that he wanted to win, I hated seeing Guerin and Comrie constantly out there on the power play instead of Tambellini or Comeau.
At the end of it all I wish that Ted and Snow could have talked and come to some sort of an agreement, but after all this is Garth Snow's team and what he says goes. If Teddy isn't on board then it leads to a firing - and it did. One fan said it best: Ted Nolan is a great coach, but he was coaching this team at the wrong time. This meaning that if we were a contender, a team with a winning record in search of a new coach, that he would be the right man for the job. I always loved Nolan as a coach and am sad to see him go, but at the same time I understand why this relationship did not work the way it should have. Hopefully Wang has learned that he has to let a GM pick his coach and his players instead of them being supplied to him by a committee. It seems that the committee is dead, so hopefully Snow can find his coach that will work with him and take this team in the right direction.
All of this does make me look at Snow with questionable eyes again as well. Snow has made my eyebrows raise a few times before - the Smyth trade (which I loved at the time if he would resign because it showed a fearless desire to win at all costs, but now I hate not having Nilsson), signing DP to a 15 year deal (could be one of the best signings but we still have 12 years to find out), trading down from 5th to 7th to 9th at this year's draft to get more draft picks instead of finding a way to trade Satan or Fedotenko for picks at the deadline, and of course firing Ted Nolan, the coach who brought this team to the playoffs when they were expected to finish at the bottom. When thinking back to Mike Milbury, these moves don't even compare to the ones he made, but the problem with all of these signings and firings is that they won't prove themselves for another few years.
As long as Nilsson doesn't turn into the player that Milbury thought he would then the Smyth trade does not hurt us very much. If DP doesn't need to replace anymore of the bones that he was born with as well as finishing his seasons with limited injuries and bringing this team to a Stanley Cup, then his signing is the biggest bargain in team history, if not the NHL. If Bailey turns out to be the first line center Garth Snow said he would be such as he was in the OHL, then Filatov won't haunt us as we all fear. And if the coach we bring in to replace Ted Nolan develops these kids into a contender in the next few years, then firing Ted Nolan will prove to be the right choice.
That's a lot of "if's" and pressure on a GM that has yet to prove anything at his position within the organization. Yet the fact that he's been sticking to his instincts and making the choices that he feels are right despite what fans and others say shows determination and courage, and that has been something I've admired thus far about Garth Snow. We have a few solid prospects in Comeau, Bergenheim, Nielsen, and Okposo, and the fact that they will all be playing with this team in a full time role next year is something I'm looking forward too.
Speaking of the mentioned prospects, I am very happy to see Frans Nielsen locked up to a four year one-way deal. Hopefully he can generate some chemistry with the big club either with Okposo or Tambellini. Although there is a lot of hype on Okposo being our next big player, I still strongly feel that we have a few years until we see him become that type of player. To be honest, I'm not expecting much more than a 30 point season out of him at the most. From what I've heard he wasn't even that impressive at training camp. The one player who really needs to be our scorer next season is Jeff Tambellini. He's got nothing left to prove at the minor league level and Teddy isn't going to be here this season to destroy his confidence with fourth line minutes and trips back to Bridgeport. This year HAS to be his year. Maybe with all the hype around Okposo he won't feel the pressure as much as he has in the past few years, but all I know is that he has to gradually emerge as a top-six winger by season's end.
I'm very curious to see how Snow handles the finishing touches on our roster. With Nielsen locked up to a one-way deal, we have 13 forwards signed on for next season. My guess is that Andy Hilbert may be on the move or placed on waivers, but maybe that's just wishful thinking. I keep hearing the Isles are interested in Kubina and Mathieu Schneider on the blue line, but we know Snow won't try acquiring those guys in exchange for the kids. We also already have an extra defenseman after the signing of Mark Streit, so one would have to assume that if Snow brings in another d-man it would include one of our extra d-men going in the other direction.
Either way, Snow has insisted that the future is now and that is what we are beginning to see. It's something we haven't seen in years and for the first time I feel that this team is doing something right. However what the team needs to do next season is show patience. Okposo, Comeau, Tamby, Bergy, and all the others are not going to turn into goal scorers over night. We are in for a long season.
How Snow reacts to that by next summer will determine if he is the right man for a youth movement. He's stuck to his guns so far, so we'll just have to wait and see.
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