QUARTER SEASON BAROMETER!
Following a full season without any head coaches firing, already 4 coaches received their pink slips in the first quarter of 2018-19 season. The LA Kings were the first to pull the trigger, firing John Stevens. In a surprise move, Joel Quenneville was also let go by the Black Hawks. Mike Yeo and Todd McLellan were the next victims as the first quarter came to a close.
Teams often use the first 20-25 games to assess projections and expectations of their team. The most common reason for coaches getting fired is that “Expectations” weren’t met. General managers create expectations for their team based on the players' progress and changes they made during the off-season.
Take St-Louis, for example, they received praises from the media for their off-season acquisitions of Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak and David Perron. With those three players accounting for over 20% of their total payroll, it was inevitable that if the team didn’t reach expectations, the coach would pay, especially that he was already on a short leash based on last year’s absence from the playoffs albeit by a single point.
What about Edmonton? They were an exciting team to watch in 2016-17 totaling an amazing 103 points. Once they set that standard, anything less would be viewed as failure. They missed the playoffs in 2017-18 and are now struggling in the first quarter this season. How can that happen? Was that great season just an aberration or are they underachieving? How can management make reasonable expectations with this team now?
“Expectations”! Right or wrong, managements have them and will make decisions based on what they project them to be and the coach is often the casualty if they are not met. Management must be careful when making projections and creating expectations. It’s easy to over evaluate your own players and their potential. It reminds me of a Scotty Bowman quote: ‘THERE’S NOTHING SO UNCERTAIN AS A SURE THING!”