Leafs and Kings make big moves
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | 10:20 AM ET
As the merry-go-round of coaching changes continues in the NHL, Tuesday was one of the busier ones in recent memory.
The Maple Leafs got their man while the Kings bid farewell to theirs - Ron Wilson was named Toronto’s 27th coach in the history of that storied franchise, while Kings GM Dean Lombardi will now start looking for that squad's 22nd after firing Marc Crawford.
What do those two teams, who last faced one another in the 1993 playoffs, have in common? Both have been chasing the Cup since 1967 when the Leafs last won it and the Kings were granted an expansion franchise.
Growing pains inevitable
Wilson knows this will be tough sledding for at least a couple of seasons while the Leafs continue their awkward “growing pains." He’s also aware that this team will look radically different than the one Paul Maurice last coached with the growing speculation that Mats Sundin will not be back and Darcy Tucker and Andrew Raycroft’s impending buyouts.
This is also to say nothing of the continuation of the attempts to trade Jason Blake (who would welcome a deal), Pavel Kubina (who may not be shipped considering how Wilson told HNIC Radio show yesterday how much he likes Kubina's toughness and heavy right-handed shot from the point), Bryan McCabe and whomever else can fetch future value, because outside of Vesa Toskala (and he’s not a given, really), there are no untouchables on this or the Toronto Marlies' roster.
For Wilson, it's all about the transition from the Sundin era to one led by ... well, we’re not really sure who the next captain/leader of this team will be.
Wilson told HNIC Radio yesterday that he’s not averse to following what teams like Minnesota and Buffalo do with their rotation of captains. That would be the likely scenario in Toronto should Sundin decide not to come back.
Developing young guns the job in L.A.
For Los Angeles, it too is all about working with the young future stars of the game. And what a dream position it would be for a coach eager to earn himself a reputation as the Kings are perhaps only a season away from busting out and becoming a powerhouse in the NHL.
Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson, Alex Frolov, Mike Cammalleri (who actually may be traded, possibly to Nashville for a young defenceman) Jonathan Bernier and whomever they select second overall at the upcoming draft (speculated to be defenceman Drew Doughty of the Guelph Storm) provide a nucleus for success that will one day be the envy of the NHL if it stays healthy and intact.
So who’s the right guy for L.A.? Who has a track record of working with kids, developing talent and demanding results while making teams accountable for their performance?
How about Craig Hartsburg, head coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League?
Perhaps rushed to the NHL too soon as a head coach, Hartsburg has plied his trade in the OHL with great success, and on the international stage where he guided the Team Canada juniors to a gold medal at the tournament in the Czech Republic this past season. Hartsburg seems like the obvious fit. He’s capable, hard working, successful and ready to make the jump back into the NHL
Having said all that, considering how he worked with the kids in Washington with great success this season, do you think the Kings now rue the day they fired Bruce Boudreau as the head coach of their minor league affiliate in Manchester in 2005?
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About the Author
Jeff Marek, one of sports talk radio's brightest stars, is the host of the all-new HNIC Radio on SIRIUS Satellite Radio. A twelve-year sports-talk radio veteran, the Toronto native provides intelligent hockey talk, insight and debate during the two-hour national daily drive-time hockey program.
Well known for his previous work on Leafs Lunch on AM 640 Toronto Radio, Marek is one of sports talk radio's most respected personalities. He joined AM 640 in 2000, hosting The Jeff Marek Show, a nightly open-line talk show, while working as the stations' morning news anchor. He quickly became the director of sports news and joined host Bill Watters on Leafs Lunch.
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