Home HockeyBuzz Register Login
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.
Filed Under:   Leafs   Wilson   Coaching   Change   Management   NHL   Strategy  
November 22, 2011 11:34 AM ET | Delete
Because almost any coach would quit their semi-pro job for an AHL/NHL gig at the drop of a hat, even without the previous commitment. Also, would you really want to be paying a bunch of coaches that you may not ever hire a whole bunch of money, when they're still coaching their semi-pro team? No thanks, coaches, like players, aren't always what you think they'll be.
November 22, 2011 11:59 AM ET | Delete
I agree, but they are already being paid byt heir respective club. You offer a short term contract for them to continue coaching where they are. Say $30,000 (pennies for an NHL club) and you have rights to them for a year or 2. Why would the coach say no? They understand the rarity of actually being called up to a club, so if given the chance to earn more money and have a club be "scouting them" why wouldn't they? Just my opinion, like I said, I don't know if it would work.
November 22, 2011 11:59 AM ET | Delete
Say you are an analyst at some place you work, and a top agency says "we may have an opening for you as an analyst for us in a year. We want you to promise not to go to sign a contract with another company this year, and we will add $30,000 to your salary". I'd sign those papers in a second. But that's me
November 22, 2011 12:20 PM ET | Delete
Sure, but in the interest of the team, (even though $30g's isn't that much to them) I'm not sure why they'd want to pay anything to a coach at that level. If the coach was good enough to pay that money to, I think they'd be good enough to add to the teams AHL/NHL staff and say, "be an assistant to the assistant and if you succeed you will be considered for future jobs in the organization."
November 22, 2011 12:22 PM ET | Delete
If your point is that the coach would be dumb not to take the money, then I totally agree. However, I'm not sure that it's really worth it to the team to stockpile coaching prospects. Even though I made the comparison about coaches, like players, not always working out, there are way more roster spots and room for error with the players, and only a few spots for coaches and assistants.
November 22, 2011 12:52 PM ET | Delete
I agree there is a lot more room for players, but at the moment you would have your pick of the little. Your argument would make more sense when there is competition for getting the top coaches. Use players as an analogy. the 3rd-7th round picks have less and less chance of making an impact at the NHL level.
November 22, 2011 12:54 PM ET | Delete
but the 1st few rounds have a much higher chance. If you tookt he top 3 prospective coaches and gave them spots as AHL coaches and/or assistants, you would still have a handful of good coaches available that you could sign to these contracts incase those top few you picked didn't work out. To start I could see it working, but when other teams catch on it would become more difficult.
November 22, 2011 2:56 PM ET | Delete
November 22, 2011 2:57 PM ET | Delete
Still not sure why you would need to pay or stockpile then. If there's only a few spots and tons of coaches out there, then you can pick anyone from those tons of coaches to fill your 1 or 2 positions. If you still can't find a good coach, then you don't know what you're looking for as an organization. If everyone started claiming coaches, it would get even harder than it already is to find a really good one, because they'd all be committed.
November 22, 2011 3:03 PM ET | Delete
Not to mention, if NHL teams were paying coaches at all different levels, they could tamper with the draft, by having a coach sit a good prospect to hide them from other teams' scouts, which would in no way be fair. I'm also sure that coaches have something in their contracts about accepting contracts with other unaffiliated teams and leagues. The whole concept IMHO goes against the idea that parity in the NHL is a good thing for the game, which the league feels it is.
November 22, 2011 4:00 PM ET | Delete
I agree that at the moment you can choose any coach you desire, which means there is absolutely no need at the moment to try sign a coach to yourself.I guess its more of the way I see coaching become. I feel like teams eventually may treat coaches like players down the road and will fight to get them to themselves. I don't exactly know if or how it would shape up, just thought it might be an interesting thing that could develop.
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to leave a comment.