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Spring Cleaning – in Hockey language!

April 23, 2012

The onset of spring means different things to different people. For my mother, it always means it is time to get back out in the garden and clean everything  up.  Removing fall and winter detritus brings a smile to her face.  Others get the urge to ‘spring clean’ as well and those cast-offs turn up at curbs all over every city.

The sport of hockey is no different. The unfortunate teams that were unable to make the playoffs have closing interviews with their players and coaching staffs, the players clean out their lockers and finish with a few last words to the local media. Depending on the situation surrounding the team’s inability to reach the playoffs, the team conducts a ‘house-cleaning’ as well. An in-house analysis of the coaching staff and roster is performed and personnel may find themselves kicked to the curb.

Just recently, the Calgary Flames ‘reached a mutual agreement’ to part ways with head coach Brent Sutter. An associate coach, Dave Lowry was also ‘let go.’  In Montreal, the spring cleaning appeared to occur throughout the season.  It started in October with the firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn, followed by head coach Jacques Martin in December and continued with the general manager, Pierre Gauthier in March.  In addition, during this past season, 7 other coaches were removed from their positions: Davis Payne (St. Louis Blues), Paul Maurice (Carolina Hurricanes), Bruce Boudreau (Washington Capitals), Randy Carlyle (Anaheim Ducks), Terry Murray (L.A. Kings), Scott Arniel (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Ron Wilson (Toronto Maple Leafs).

Back now to the players’ situation. While it is easier to fire a coach during the season than swap out a bunch of players when the season goes sour, the ending of the regular season is a perfect time to assess who can be deemed ‘detritus’ versus who is worth trying to save or just needs more nurturing. Many hard decisions will need to be made. What veteran starting to show his age, can bounce back and provide that ‘veteran presence’ so desired by a Cup contender and what veteran is really done? Which youngsters will still retain their ‘prospect’ status and which have had their chance with that particular team. And who might just need a ‘change of address’ to bloom?

I can’t wait to see who is left standing when ‘Spring Cleaning’ is done…

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