It was interesting to hear Elliotte Friedman report between periods of Wednesday’s Leafs-Devils game that there was some hesitation over hiring John Hynes for an NHL coaching job because, of all things, his height, or lack thereof.
I’m not surprised.
We’ve heard rumblings in the past of people who have been overlooked for NHL jobs because they’re either too short or too tall, too fat or too skinny.
Hockey is a weird business sometimes.
In the case of the personable Hynes, the second-year New Jersey coach, he is only three apples high, but the man can coach hockey. He’s proven it in the minors, where he was a winner, and he’s proving it in the NHL.
To think someone would even think for a split second Hynes’s height could impact his ability to deliver a message to hockey players is appalling, if not plain absurd.
Ken Hitchcock has been overweight his entire coaching career. Doesn’t make him any less of a brilliant coach. Barry Trotz doesn’t look like a runway model behind the bench. But he can coach. Ditto Bruce Boudreau. Likewise Scotty Bowman, perhaps the best to ever coach hockey.
We could go on and on.
Some people who run National Hockey League teams tend to analyze things nine ways to Sunday. They’ll bring in analytics people and psychotherapists to study a player inside and out, instead of asking themselves three basic questions: does he have the skills to play, is he a dog for the game and is he a head case?
Sometimes, these people find themselves in the right place at the right time, as opposed to their brilliance paying off in spades. Fired by the Boston Bruins after completely shagging up their salary cap structure, Peter Chiarelli landed in Edmonton just before the Oilers drafted Connor McDavid. Complement that once-in-a-lifetime draft pick with a few free agent signings — that you or I could have orchestrated — and now Chiarelli’s a genius.
The truth is they’re not all overly brilliant, hockey savants. Not that they’re morons, but peel away the nice suits and their hockey speak and you have people who, in a lot of cases, know no more or no less than most hockey guys, even those in the ECHL.
Then again, there’s probably a lot of ECHL executives who wouldn’t be stunned enough to question a guy’s height when it comes to figuring out whether or not he can coach.
Nobody asked me, but …
Coaches who are vertically challenged aren’t the only ones who were second-guessed by NHL general managers. For years, if hockey players weren’t at least six-feet in height, they’re chances of playing were slim. That’s changing, thankfully. Edmonton Oilers Kailer Yamamoto is officially listed as 5-8. He’s probably shorter. Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames is listed at 5-9, but that’s if he’s standing on telephone books. Mitch Marner of the Leafs won’t be mistaken for a Raptors player … It doesn’t matter now, because the American Hockey League is done in St. John’s, but did you notice the Laval Rocket made their debut at Laval’s Place Bell before a full house of 10,000, but the next night drew 5,800? And this came when the Canadiens were on the road on Washington … One more thing about the AHL: the league announced this week an expansion franchise for Loveland, Col., just north of Denver. Two guesses who the parent club will be. The Colorado Avalanche currently have their farmhands in San Antonio, Tex. It’s another example of the NHL teams wanting their AHL affiliate next door. Makes you wonder how much longer the Vancouver-Utica, N.Y. partnership will last … See where the Carolina Hurricanes drew only 7,892 bodies into the PNC Arena in Raleigh for a Tuesday night game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. If I’m Hurricanes’ owner Peter Karmanos, I’m at least taking a glance at Quebec for possible future relocation …
Still don’t have any official word yet, but apparently they’re forging ahead with an Avalon East Senior Hockey League, Part II, with the C.B.N. CeeBees, Paradise and Mount Pearl. If it ever gets going, that would make for four senior hockey leagues in Newfoundland — others being the new East Coast Senior Hockey League (which used to be the Avalon East league, which … oh, never mind), the Central West Senior Hockey League and West Coast Senior Hockey League. Four senior hockey leagues. In Newfoundland. Right … Exactly 36 days before the new St. John’s pro basketball team hits the floor for their debut in Charlottetown, P.E.I., and so far as I can tell, there’s still no team, no name and no logo or colours. Or maybe there are. Maybe that’s what Monday’s announcement is all about. Maybe they’ll make the name, Signals, official. The new coach, Jeff Dunlap, will be here for the news conference, along with National Basketball League of Canada president Vito Frijia … Taking a look at the top five players selected in each of the past five NHL drafts, digest this: 12 are from Canada, four each from Finland and the U.S., three from Sweden and one each from Switzerland and Germany. In other words, the (slim) majority are from outside Canada … How can a Montreal fan get excited about these Canadiens? Outside Carey Price and Shea Weber, there’s little else. Phillip Danault. Paul Byron. Karl Alzner. Andrew Shaw. Tomas Plekanec. All here nor there. It’s even hard to get jazzed up about their captain and top forward, Max Pacioretty. The Maple Leafs are light years ahead of the Canadiens … Those dastardly Shamrocks — seriously, they’re okay — are staging their second annual baseball banquet this Friday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Lions Park Chalet on Bonaventure Ave. The Shammies swept the senior and intermediate baseball titles this season. The Shamrocks will be honouring the late Mike Squires, who passed away this year, for his contribution to the baseball teams back in the 80s …
Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort