The Mentorship Vacuum

Note: this is all my personal opinion. I have no special insight into the team other that being a fan that has learned a lot about hockey in the 5 years he’s been watching it, and has watched this Hurricanes team closely in that time. Cynthia and I have talked about this stuff a lot on our own, but generally have attempted to avoid the craziness bouncing around the net where it comes to Maurice leaving.

I haven’t said too much about it before other than the occasional snarky Twitter post, because the mental exhaustion from the “Mo Must Go” drumbeat was too frustrating to put together coherent thoughts, but with Muller coming in I have a chance to start fresh, just like the team. =)

I think Muller coming in will give us the kick in the pants we need, or at least a good chance for it, and I do think it is good that he has been at multiple levels as a player, captain, and coach and that it will help bring in some new perspective… but I don’t think that’s actually what went wrong in the locker room, or that it was necessarily Maurice’s fault. (Certainly not only Maurice’s fault.)

The Mentorship Vacuum

I think that when a lot of our veterans rolled off the roster, we ended up with a lack of mentors.

Now, I am definitely not saying that Staal is unable to be captain, or unable to lead. Only that we had a lot of even-keeled veterans on our team, and we don’t have as much of that anymore. Many of our most “veteran” players are really players that should only be coming into their prime now: Ward, Staal, even Harrison and Pitkanen. Notice anything about that list? Harrison is 29, just getting into what should be his best years as a d-man. Ward is 27. Staal is 27. Pitkanen is 28. They’re good players, and they’ve seen their fair share, but they’re not yet at the place that someone like Brind’amour was at, or Wesley.

I think about my job, and how as we slowly grow, our senior architect is giving me the occasional project to run, rather than just working with me on requirements, or letting me just run with whatever takes my fancy. Someday, the guys who started the company are going to want to retire, and I’m gonna be the one who is less responsible for coding, and more responsible for organizing the junior developers, and frankly, that’s a little scary. I like coding, and I don’t really like managing people. But I know that someone has to do it, and when it comes to it, I’ll give it a shot because I like the folks I work with, and I want our company to succeed. If you can’t grow in what you do, you stagnate.

So Who’s Gonna Be That Guy?

Is it crazy to think that not enough people on the team have stepped in to be that guy willing to take on a little more responsibility? To make sure a few of the young guys are getting the attention they need to feel like they’re an important part of the organization? It’s not enough to score goals and feel good about that — the opinions of your peer group, and the collaboration that goes on in a team that works well together matters just as much as your skill. It’s not enough to make Staal, Sutter, and Gleason bear the brunt of that as captains. Hockey relies so much on nuance, and atitude, and the little things that make that tiny push over the edge which makes you better than the other team. If you’re at the NHL level, you already have the skills. What keeps you going is your ability to be motivated a bit more than the guys on the other team, and to make sure your teammates are with you on it.

Finding Confidence

In a good team, everyone steps in to help out those around him. When something’s not working, it’s not just the coach, or the captain, or the assistant captains, or that one guy in a scoring slump, or even one system or the other. All of those things have to interact together, and be working, for the team to be above .500 and have a chance at the playoffs. Could Maurice have been too stuck in his style to be able to find a way to get the players motivated? Maybe a little. Do I think Maurice was the problem? Not really. Or, that is to say, not any more than anyone else.

I feel like as a team that can’t afford to spend to the cap, we’re less likely to have a large number of veterans filling our roster, so we have to work harder to have that baseline that keeps a team motivated.

Here’s the New Coach

Bringing in a new coach doesn’t automatically make players better team leaders, but rethinking everything may help our players rethink what we really need to be successful.

I feel bad for Maurice having to go through getting kicked out a second time, but he’s a good guy and I’m confident he can land on his feet. I’ll miss his post-game interview snark, and his easy manner, but I’m also hopeful for the future, and looking forward to what Muller will bring. My impressions so far are that he’s solid, and will focus on the right things.

Now about those playoffs…

EDIT: I mentioned this on Twitter; a good example of the mentorship I’m talking about is… (hmm) Erik Cole with Jeff Skinner last year. Everyone talked about how he took Skinner under his wing and really helped him get comfortable in the NHL.

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November 29, 2011  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Hockey

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