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Don’t Hate Too Much On Cappy

This week we got a surprisingly bad reaction from fans regarding the coaching direction of the Golden Knights. The Creator’s “unwillingness” to overpay for Claude Julien started a conversation about financial commitment. Some even went as far as to call him cheap. Let’s clear something up, the man is about to finish to paying off $500 million for an NHL team, he’s not cheap. But fans are getting nervous that The Creator won’t do everything he can do to win hockey games. When he said $4.5 million for Julien was too much for Vegas, fans took that as not being fully invested.

If Vegas chooses a coach like Jack Capuano or Gerard Gallant fans are going to voice themselves. The Creator is realistic, the organization is committed to the future. Passing on a big name coach isn’t a sign of cheapness, it’s a sign of a responsible approach eyeing that future rather than instant gratification.

I’ve written about Capuano’s fit in Las Vegas, but he’s not a popular among fans. Here’s a comment from SinBin.vegas on Capuano back in late November.

Take Capuano, please. Take his assistants, too. They make no adjustments. They have ruined more players (high draft picks) than they have developed. The GM might be part of that, too but playing time & in game is on the coach. They have stopped playing hard, and for the past two plus seasons, I have never seen so many late goals (both end of periods & games) given up in 45 years of watching hockey. I will drive him to the airport if you want. -pfh64

 

Many people think Capuano underachieved in New York. Complaints are he cannot develop talent and won’t use analytics to assist his decisions. All are very good reasons to be down on a potential Vegas coach. However, is that really Jack Capuano? Or is that what you say about a coach who was just fired?

I’m here to tell you, he isn’t anything like the comment above, and the countless others we’ve received on social media.  Let me try and quiet the storm in Las Vegas. Here’s how Jack Capuano compares to other available coaches.

Jack CapuanoClaude JulienKen HitchcockLindy Ruff
Seasons as HC6142119
W-L227-192538-332781-474724-542
Win %.536.603.606.562
Playoff Appearances481410
Playoff Record10-1461-4786-8266-54
Playoff %.417.560.512.550
Stanley Cups0110
Key PlayersTavares, HalakBrodeur, Chara, ThomasModano, Nieuwendyk, Belfour, HullHasek, Satan, Peca
Jack CapuanoDan BylsmaGerard GallantJon Cooper
Seasons as HC6865
W-L227-192310-176152-140172-114
Win %.536.624.518.591
Playoff Appearances4613
Playoff Record10-1443-352-425-25
Playoff %.417.551.333.500
Stanley Cups0100
Key PlayersTavares, HalakCrosby, MalkinJagr, Nash, Ekblad, LuongoStamkos, Bishop, St. Louis, Hedman

 

Here’s a breakdown of Capuano vs. the more experienced coaches in their first six seasons behind the bench.

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Cross Off Claude, Julien All But Out For Vegas

Last March, the Toronto Maple Leafs handsomely paid Mike Babcock $6.25 million per year to be their head coach; an offer Babcock couldn’t refuse. In the process of getting a monster raise, Babcock rewarded his fellow NHL coaches by inflating the market. Now coaches are waiting their turn to cash in. Say a guy like Claude Julien.

When you make these decisions, you better have a guy in line that’s better than that guy. There’s not many, I can tell you that. He’s a hell of a coach. –Mike Babcock on Boston firing Claude Julien

Many believe Julien will demand a salary as high as $4-5 million per year. Which made me wonder, would Vegas be willing to pay the going rate for Claude?

The answer is no.

Ken and I had a chance to catch up with The Creator during the Mandarin Oriental Rooster trade event, and after our conversation, I can officially cross Julien’s name off the list. It’s no longer speculation, Claude Julien will not be the Golden Knights first coach. It was clear immediately when I asked directly about the financial aspect of the hiring. I first asked if he would pay top dollar, to which he instantly said yes. I added, four to five million? And the answer speaks for itself.

That’s probably a lot for us.

I’ll tell you what we really want. George McPhee’s going to make the call. My call is going to be, is this a guy I can work with feel comfortable with. All the people we have in this organization keep their egos in check they are about winning hockey games or making a successful business. -The Creator

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Boston Fires Julien, Next Stop Vegas?

What seemed inevitable finally became a reality this morning, and everything the Golden Knights have said to be looking for is now available in one 58-year old Canadian package.

Former Stanley Cup and Jack Adams award (best coach) winner Claude Julien was fired by the Boston Bruins after nine and a half seasons in Beantown. The Bruins made the playoffs in each of Julien’s first seven seasons behind the bench before coming up three points short last year.

I could go on and on about the wonders of this guy’s career, but I’m pretty sure that’s why they made this Wikipedia thing everyone keeps telling me about. Instead, let’s look at it from the Vegas perspective. If you look back through the history of what George McPhee has been saying he wants running the show here in Vegas, he’s basically described Julien without ever saying his name.

Experienced, a guy the hockey community knows, fits the culture, and someone who they do not have to evaluate. Julien also brings one more aspect that no one would ever admit is necessary, legitimacy.

When the Golden Knights became a reality they were met with critics from all over the world (especially Canada). Then they hired George McPhee, then Kelly McCrimmon, and eventually added David Conte, Scott Luce, Misha Donskov, and a bunch more top level scouts and operations guys that has hockey insiders unanimously claiming Vegas has done remarkably well putting together its first front office. But hockey fans aren’t that easily convinced. Many have heard of McPhee, but the rest of the names on that list aren’t exactly high profile to your everyday working Joe.

Claude Julien is.

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McPhee’s Reason Behind Hiring An Experienced Coach

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.

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If Gallant Is The Guy, Just Do It Already

Procrastination is about as American a concept as apple pie, democracy and being fat. We all do it from time to time, even on some of the most important decisions in our lives. Usually there’s a reason for the urge to keep pushing things back. Whether it’s feeling unprepared, uncomfortable, or unwilling, procrastination usually tells a story.

Right now the Vegas Golden Knights are in the hunt to find the first coach in team history. Originally the plan was to wait until after the Expansion Draft to begin narrowing down the search, then the idea of doing it after the regular season ended seemed realistic, and now, it could happen as soon as tomorrow.

At this point, I’d say it’s 50-50 we have our head coach in place before the season’s over. –The Creator to LVRJ

Why the urgency all of a sudden you ask? Because maybe the perfect candidate is available right now and might not be in a few months.

The guy that’s caused the urgency is Gerrard Gallant. Jason touched on the importance of Gallant passing on the Islanders job and how it could signal his arrival in Vegas.

That brings me back to the whole procrastination thing. If Gallant does end up being the guy, every day that ticks away shows less and less confidence from George McPhee, The Creator, and the entire staff that he’s the perfect fit. There’s only one reason to procrastinate, and that’s to wait and see if someone better will come available.

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Gerard Gallant’s Decision On The Isles Might Be A Hint At Vegas

When The Bobfather speaks we listen. Without discussing Vegas specifically, TSN’s Bob McKenzie may have given away parts of George McPhee’s master plan. McKenzie’s sources told him the Islanders tried hiring Jack Capuano’s replacement before firing him.

The Islanders did approach the Florida Panthers for permission to talk to Gallant. If Gerard Gallant wanted to be the head coach of the New York Islanders he would have been the head coach of the New York Islanders. And that permission by the way was initially asked for while Jack Capuano was still their head coach a number of weeks ago. -McKenzie

Gallant could’ve been hesitant to take the first job offered to him. Possibly it was the current environment in New York. Or was the current opening on 3780 South Las Vegas Boulevard the reason he turned down the Islanders?

Gallant’s name has been at the head of the line when it comes to coaching rumors in Vegas for weeks. It’ll continue to heat up every day that passes over the next few months. McPhee has a mass of selling points to any head coach, most importantly stability. Gallant is 53 years-old, he’s searching for his Stanley Cup ring, and his player-friendly style could fit in Vegas.

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Disco Dan Bylsma May Dance His Way Out Of Buffalo And In To Vegas

When Dan Bylsma was fired from the Penguins in 2014, he left Pittsburgh with one Stanley Cup and 252 wins. Pretty good numbers for five and half seasons. Since then it’s been uphill battle. Jack Eichel was drafted second overall in 2015 and the Sabres believed Bylsma would help the young center grow. When Eichel’s on the ice he’s been a stud, a combined 73 points in 104 games is a fine start to an NHL career. But while Eichel’s developing, the rest of the team is not. Buffalo won three games in October, five in November, five in December and four in January. The Sabres have had injuries this season, but overall they’ve been a disappointment. This is why the Sabres coach could be available to Vegas this offseason.

The obvious reason for Bylsma’s success in Pittsburgh was Sidney Crosby. The Penguins were coming off a Stanley Cup loss and were hungry to get back. Michele Therrien was fired in February of ’09 after the team had struggled to stay afloat. Bylsma took over and stormed on to a Stanley Cup victory. Pittsburgh went 18-3-4, the second best record for a coach’s first 25 games. Impressive, but there were plenty of skeptics out there. Many felt he tinkered and wore out players. Some said he underachieved overall in Pittsburgh and seems like he’s doing the same in Buffalo.

Two coaches executives believe are on the hot seat at the moment: Winnipeg’s Paul Maurice and Buffalo’s Dan Bylsma. Sooner or later both have to start getting better results. –Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun 

You could argue he deserves more than two seasons but it’s gotten worse since that report. Some owners don’t have patience, and Vegas fans should hope Sabres owner Terrence Pegula runs out of it this offseason.

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