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Dose of Reality #62

July 15, 2007

In the middle of July, it is hard for hockey bloggers to stay with it. Drew, Sarah at The Neutral Zone Trap, and a few other locals like Michael of Army of the Ohio, Tim at Better on Ice, and Tyler at The Jacket Times have cut back on their posts or taken a break. Only Bethany is still going strong, although her boss is looking for more work productivity from her at her day job. But for me, I still have an almost daily hockey activity going on, even as my years in the game wind down. It has always been hard for me to take a break from the game and this summer is no different.

I’m not coaching anymore, so I don’t have to conduct tryouts or hold conditioning sessions. I miss these the most, because they were always casual events, lots of fun, with very little parent involvement. I haven’t worked at a hockey camp in a few years, but even those were good times because the kids wanted to be there to learn and have fun, and the after hours gatherings with my fellow instructors were something I always looked forward to.

I don’t have to attend coaching meetings or seminars or clinics anymore, either. The seminars or clinics were full of guys who couldn’t wait to start blowing the whistle and stand behind the bench, or other guys who used the events as a way to relax and bullshit with their peers and tell stories from their past seasons. I would place Ken Hitchcock in the latter group, a guy who has a million stories to share with anyone in the room, but also a guy who would sit still and listen to you when you told yours. I think Hitch is not sure what to expect this season with the Blue Jackets, but he wants to get the team playing with a higher level of confidence and skill than they ever have. He may wear out a whistle or two when camp opens up, but he has a plan and he will be prepared.

Scott Howson, on the other hand, probably can’t wait for the season to start. He needs to get an idea of what he has and then make the changes needed to help Hitch implement his plan. He won’t have a solid understanding of the team until November, but in the meantime he is pacing the floor in his office, thinking constantly about the options that will present themselves. I just hope he doesn’t get distracted.

Another hockey guy is relieved to know that he is back in the show again with a new chance at coaching. Gerard Gallant took a job with the New York Islanders as an assistant coach. I am happy to see him get another opportunity at coaching and wish him the best. His summer, now more enjoyable with a coaching job, will be full of meetings and planning sessions. I’m sure that he can’t wait to blow the whistle again.

I’ll have more to post as the summer drags on. I still play once a week and could easily fill this space with stories from those games. However, I don’t think the readers want to know about my last tournament performance or how my team once again missed out on a championship game.

-Truth Serum

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3 comments

  1. Ha I should be back starting today…


  2. I’m glad to see Gallant getting another chance. He was out of his depth as a rookie coach with a franchise that had bigger problems. But the few times I’ve met him, he always seemed like a nice guy. So I’m pulling for him to have some success coaching in the NHL, even if it takes some time to get back to head coach.


  3. I wouldn’t be so hard on Gallant when he was with the Jackets as he was not really the only coach. It is well known that Gallant had to do what MacLean wanted and play the players Doug wanted. In reality we may never know the real way that Gallant can coach.

    Mark Hartigan when he signed with Detroit a few days ago, made a telling comment when he said that Columbus had a habit of playing “contracts” instead of the best players. Mark had a point there especially when it came to the younger first rounders who were clearly out of their element in the NHL. Thankfully, Ken Hitchcock will restore a proper NHL atmosphere on the team and play the guys that will bring him wins. If the kid is not ready, he can go to junior or stay in the AHL.

    On most nights I felt for Gallant who had a solid NHL career as a player and ironically had the respect of the players when he was behind the bench in Columbus. The players knew that Gerrard was a puppet on a string when he was head coach and eventually MacLean would come in a replace Gerrard. Ted Nolan is a young, astute NHL coach that has the full backing of the GM and owner and most importantly his players. Nolan was not afraid to sit his expensive ball and chain, Alexi Yashin and, as a result the players gave the determined coach the effort he needed to make the playoffs. Hopefully Hitch has the same latitude in Columbus to get the players to raise their level and finally make the playoffs. Remember the players play the game not the coach and if the players are not behing the coach %100 then you get what we have seen in Columbus for the past 7 seasons. Let’s give Hitch a full season to see if he can make this work.



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