Whether it’s coming from George McPhee himself or anyone else in the organization there’s been one constant requirement for any candidate to be the Vegas Golden Knights first head coach. Experience.
We’ve always kind of assumed it was a just a philosophy McPhee preferred after learning from his days in Washington (more on that in a second), but when given the opportunity to elaborate, he explained it had more to do with expansion than anything.
It’s not an easy process to evaluate players when you are just getting going like we are and I don’t want to be evaluating a coach and players at the same time. I’d rather have the coach be someone who we know has done the job and can do the job and we’ll be focusing on players for the next few years. -McPhee
That quote is from an interview on Sirius XM NHL’s Stellick & Simmer and subsequently repeated something similar in a few other interviews on Wednesday as well.
I’ve always been in the corner of a younger coach who could possibly be with the organization for decades, but when I heard George put it this way my mind was changed. This makes perfect sense to me.
It’s also a great selling point to any potential coach… talking to you Sir Gallant. How often do coaches get to walk into a situation and be told, “we aren’t evaluating you?” Stability is one of the toughest things to come by in professional sports, and especially in coaching. This job offers at least one season of a free pass. Has to be enticing.
McPhee also took a bit of a swipe at some of the guys he’s hired in the past.
In Washington I went with a lot of guys it was their first time around, my preference would be an experienced guy. -McPhee
While with the Capitals, McPhee hired six coaches, five of which were first time guys. I’m sure he’d never say it, but I think there’s a certain Adam Oates effect that’s going into the decision to hire a more experienced coach this time around.
The coach certainly has to fit the model we are looking for. I’ve liked putting together high scoring entertaining teams. It’s a fun way to play the game and a fun way to watch the game. -McPhee
That comment points in a direction away from Gerard Gallant, who has been quoted as saying he prefers “a bit more size.”
The question remains though, how long is it going to take to build the roster McPhee is talking about? And will the experienced coach that “fits the model” still be around at that point?
I really like the idea of getting an experienced coach in town. McPhee really explained that well and while I would have liked to gamble with a young HC, it makes perfect sense why McPhee doesn’t want to.
As I’ve said elsewhere, I still don’t understand why Gallant is seen as such a clear first choice. Really the only distinction he seems to have was he got fired at the right time to get inserted into the conversation. All the BEST head coaches get fired after the season is over. If McPhee waits just a few more months then perhaps Paul Maurice, Lindy Ruff, or Dan Bylsma will become available.
What am I missing on Gallant? There are SO MANY coaches out there with similar experience, why is it so imperative we grab him now?
I would recommend Ralph Kruger, especially if George stocks the team with young hockey players. Ralph has always overachieved with a young team, such as the Swiss National team and was an assistant coach with the Canadian Olympic Gold winning team. Check out his coaching record. The only reason Edmonton let him go, after one year, which was their best year in the last ten years, because their current coach Mcllelan became available, after he underachieved with the Sharks for many seasons. If Calgary continues to slide, the Flames might make a coaching change, so George should consider hiring Ralpf soon. Calgary needs a new Ralph to replace their old mascot, Ralph the Dog, who lost his tongue, when Craig McTavish ripped it out from behind the Oilers bench, back in the day, too funny.
“I’ve always been in the corner of a younger coach who could possibly be with the organization for decades”
Um, what? Decades!? Average shelf life of an NHL coach is only a couple years. Even the best don’t last a decade with a single franchise.
I still don’t understand why Gallant is seen as such a clear first choice. Really the only distinction he seems to have was he got fired at the right time to get inserted into the conversation. All the BEST head coaches get fired after the season is over.
Many feel that Gallant was hard done by. Injury-ravaged season. He didn’t finish what he started. His stock has risen since the firing. Many argue that the Panthers were better off under Gallant. Philosophically, Gallant and Panthers management did not sing from the same hymn sheet. Old School vs. New School. Panthers management were forced to keep him after a successful 2015–16 season. Gallant was a dead man walking before the season started.