So I was watching the Pittsburgh game last night and just got onto thinking of what Dan Bylsma was able to accomplish over the past year and a half, while missing his top 2 players (Crosby and Malkin) for a significant portion of time. It got me thinking how much I would love to have a guy like this running the Leaf’s bench and then it got me thinking even more. Currently there are regulations in place to prevent an NHL team from reaching out to a player before they reach the pro-level, and rightfully so, but at the moment there is no regulation (as far as I believe) for coaches. What I mean is, is there any regulations out there currently that prevent an NHL team from contacting a coach at a semi-pro level, and having them commit to the team? Allow me to explain with an example.
Say the Toronto Maple Leafs were the first to act on this idea. What we could do is start looking into the NCAA, CHL, OHL, etc… and begin trying to find the best coaches available. The ideal situation would be to find coaches that have different styles, in order to diversify our pool. Let’s say we find Coach X who has a fantastic defence-first system (i.e. plays the trap to perfection), we find Coach Y who plays a great run-and-gun offense, and we find Coach Z who doesn’t have a great system, but seems to have found an incredible method to get the most out of his players and have them improve constantly. Although this would be very premature, as these coaches have only been a part of semi-pro hockey, what if we went to each one and said the following:
“Listen Coach X, we like your style, and think you may have a future with our organization. We would like to pay you $__, 000/year, for 2 years, to continue coaching at the level you are currently, but be affiliated with the Leafs. This would mean that you could not sign any contract with another pro-hockey team and would belong to us for the 2 years. If at the end of the 2 years (or at some point in between) we have an opening at the AHL level, we will call you up to fill that position and renew your contract.”
The Leafs would then own the rights to this coach and would be able to keep them in their system. Now, in two years time, depending on the direction that the team is taking, the Leafs management could open up a position to the coach that they believe will best suit their needs in the future. This coach would then take the position at the AHL level, while the other candidates that didn’t get picked, could be re-upped and either get a job as an assistant to the chosen head coach, or could continue coaching their semi-pro team with a new contract from the Leafs (should they feel he could still be of use later down the road).
What this would do is provide the Leafs with their own pool of prospective coaches for years to come. Any time a coach falters at the NHL level, management no longer needs to look beyond their AHL team to find a replacement, and the AHL replacement can be chosen from the group of semi-pro candidates.
Again, I am not sure if this has been done before, but if not I see this as a very intriguing possibility. I don’t think that any coach who is earning a salary at the semi-pro level would refuse to take more money for the same job, just to be affiliated with an NHL club, and to have the opportunity to move up, eventually reaching the pro-level of coaching.
The benefit to the club is that they have the early jump on any newly emerging coaches, and depending on the styles of the coaches they have signed, they could pick and choose a style of coaching that they believe will fit their club.
What say you?
Why wouldn’t this work?
Why haven’t teams already acted on this?
Next Blog: No clue yet, something about Wilson probably.