Thursday, September 15, 2005

Murray: my way or the highway

Though he’s yet to coach a single coach, new Senators bench boss Bryan Murray has already put his stamp on this team.

1. No complaining!

Murray has asked captain Daniel Alfredsson to form a five player committee to deal with whatever issues the team has so that he doesn’t have to hear about it.
"We're going to have days during the season where we're going to have off-ice workouts for conditioning," said Murray. "They're all scheduled for the whole year right now and I don't want to hear any complaining about them. I want all complaints handled by the (committee).

"If those complaints get to my level, then there's going to be problems."

While I can sorta kinda get what Murray is trying to do, I’m inclined to agree with Tom Benjamin that this is the wrong approach. I think we’ve all worked for bosses who have not had an open door policy and it’s not exactly much fun and all that comfortable. This is not to say players should come to Murray with every little issue they have, but I’ve always felt that coaches should interact with his players on a level that doesn’t reek of a hierarchy. We all know the coach is the boss. Does he need to really need to throw his authority in the face like this?

2. The bare minimum

The Senators will have a 20 man squad, meaning no alternates at any position. Their AHL affiliate, Binghamton, is not far, and most AHL games are on the East Coast, so it’s not as if they’d have to wait a while for a call-up to arrive, but why not have a few players who’s role is to motivate the others? Someone who works their ass off in practice to make the team feel like their spot is not written in stone and they can be in the press box the next game if they don’t step up their play. Murray’s rationalization is that it’s always better to have a player play than watch, and in the case of a young player who’s still developing, like an Andrej Meszaros or a Patrick Eaves that makes sense, but a veteran like Denis Hamel, Steve Martin, or Lance Ward aren’t likely to improve much by playing in games and, I think, would be good to have around.

3. The haves and the have nots

Murray has divided the training camp into two teams: one team of 26 players, including 17 NHLers, who have a shot at cracking the big line-up and 23 players who will be with either the AHL Senators or someplace else.
"History plays a big part in these sorts of decisions and so do contracts," said Murray. "I wanted to divide it up so that the players who were going to have a legitimate chance to play on the big team were in one group. We have a lot of decisions to make and we've got work to do with the eight pre-season games. There could be guys in the second group -- like Steve Martins -- who are going to get a shot to play pre-season games, but if anybody in the second group is going to move up, they're going to have to earn it."

I’m not sure I agree with this move either. I suppose the thinking is that the guys in the second group will feel motivated and know they have to do something special to crack the main team’s line-up. But wouldn’t it also serve as a bit of a downer? Though of course it would not be the case, I would rather have everyone thinking it’s a level playing field and anyone can make the team.

Murray's clearly trying to make this HIS team, which most thought would be a difficult task given the fact that he planned to approach things from the complete opposite direction as the previous coach, for whom most of the team played for for some time. Whether or not his tactics with result in success remains to be seen, but if nothing else, he's stiring things up.


At 12:22 AM, Anonymous David said...

The bare minimum 20 man roster is purely a salary cap move. The more money you save during the season, the more (and better) players you can bring in at trade dealine time (or in case Hasek doesn't work out). It can be a smart move but yes, some competition can be good.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger just'cuz said...

If the players' committee can't handle a problem, my guess is that coach Paddock will be available. If it has to go beyond coach Paddock then it must really be a problem!

Most minor hockey teams play with 9 forwards, 6 d-men and 2 goalies. That would allow for 3 extra skaters, to get to 20. I don't see a problem with carrying a 20 man roster.

Knowing exactly where you stand (have or have-not) should motivate a player. Play hard to keep your spot or play harder to win a spot! The players are professionals (and get paid handsomely), if they can't handle some toughness from the head coach, they should get out of professional sports. Coach Murray couldn't be any tougher on Jason Spezza than coach Martin was! And Spezza was/is motivated enough to make it to the NHL ...that's the type of player I want on my team.


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