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Entries with the tag: roger neilson

On the evolution of the modern NHL coach

The Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek penned a fascinating article regarding the evolution of coaching in the NHL over the past 50 years:

There was a time, just before the dawn of expansion, when the NHL coaching fraternity consisted of just six men, all of whom wore the same essential uniform: jacket, tie, fedora and dour facial expression.

Back then, the game of hockey was played in straight lines – up and down the ice, no veering out of your lane. Shifts could last two minutes or more, with players catching their breath on the ice when the play went the other way.

Strictly speaking, coaching really meant bench coaching – changing lines, directing traffic, trading pleasantries with officials. Any teaching that went on during practices often came from the players themselves, with older players instructing younger ones in the whys and wherefores of life in the NHL.

It was a small, staid, insular world – and it didn’t start to change until the league went from six to 12, 16 and then 21 teams in a 14-year span, at which point the demand for qualified coaches and players had become so great that innovation, out of necessity, flowed into the sport.

Now, 50 years later, consider what coaching has become. Instead of one coach, there can be four to eight. Fred Shero – the mercurial Freddie the Fog – hired the first official full-time assistant coach, Mike Nykoluk, in 1972. Roger Neilson – a.k.a. Captain Video – is credited with introducing video as a teaching tool. And skating expert Dawn Braid became the NHL’s first full-time female coach when she was hired by the Arizona Coyotes last summer.

Duhatschek continues, and there's a LOT of Scotty Bowman sharing the tricks and tools of the trade in this article...

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: roger+neilson, scotty+bowman

The Men Behind Advanced Stats

from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey,

The biggest and most lasting leap in advanced stats in the National Hockey League was the first one.

It came in 1977, when Roger Neilson, a non-NHLer, a former high school math teacher and career high school and junior hockey coach, took over as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Neilson brought in a whole series of advanced stats techniques, most importantly the use of videotape to come up with individual scoring chance numbers for his team.

That Toronto team is remembered for being led by stars in their hockey prime such as Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Ian Turnbull and Borje Salming. After picking up tough guy winger Dan Maloney near the end of the regular season, the Leafs advanced into the third round of the NHL playoffs.

But it was Neilson’s contribution that has left the most lasting mark on hockey.

Neilson died in 2003 before advanced stats became the rage among NHL fans. He was never interviewed at length about his work on advanced stats, but by the time of his death most NHL teams were using the techniques he had invented and advocated. And while he’s gone, his right hand man, Ron Smith, is around to describe Neilson’s breakthrough and his thinking.


Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: roger+neilson, ron+smith


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