Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Great Ones Rarely Make Great Coaches

Of course, this has to do with Gretzky being the coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. I don't know of one superstar coming back to coach in his sport that was highly successful. It's that mentality that the players should be extensions of the coach's brain--the former superstar's knowledge and skill should translate into the players...playing like the former superstar did.

I believe Ted Williams was a model of that. He expected his players to be like he once was when he was on the field--in other words, he didn't know how to truly manage. Managing means putting your guys in the best position to succeed, and not expecting them to do more than they can possibly do (while expecting those who can to live up to those expectations).

And, what a perfect time for Gretzky to "prove" his worth, considering that the Coyotes are generally seen as one of the most stacked teams in the league--kind of like Larry Bird when he coached the Pacers. It takes very little real coaching to get an already-good team to perform. But it takes good coaching to take them to the next level--and that's those little things that make a good team a great team. That's why guys like Larry Brown are good coaches. You look at the team on paper and expect a certain amount and yet that team performs better than the on-paper analysis.

It's definitely already a good marketing move--Phoenix is seeing some higher ticket sales. They'll also be a pretty good team, anyway. If this team underachieves, it's certainly going to be Gretzky's fault.


At 8/09/2005 06:31:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

I think he'll make a great coach. The thing about Gretzky is that in addition to being The Great One...he has a reputation of being The Nice One. He was always a "leader" on the teams for which he played. He is considered a great hockey-mind and a tremendous PR guy (in terms of community involvement and such).

Take someone like Terrell Owens. He may be one of the greatest wide receivers in the game (we can argue about that later) but he's no leader. There's no one in the Philly locker room looking to him for their cues. And no one that I know of has accused TO of being a great PR and community-relations guy. He would make a horrible coach, because football to him is all about TO.

Gretzky will make a great coach because hockey to him is and has always been about winning.

At 8/09/2005 06:49:00 PM, Anonymous John B said...

Good arguement FOR Gretzky, but I can think of a former great player/shitty exec who thought he was the coach. He was a leader. Everyone rallied around him. Everyone looked to him for the big play. He was great with the press, commercials, marketing, and as an ambassador for his sport. The sport was always about winning and playing his ass off.

Of course, I'm speaking of the great Michael Jeffery Jordan. He did nothing in washington except destroy players. I could give two shits about the NBA (personally I hope it collapses. Long live NCAA bball!!), but from what I've seen and heard, he destroyed it. He personally ruined a first overall selection who was suppossed to be his heir.

Also, how great has Mario Lemieux done for the Penguins? I know he wasn't the coach, but he was running shit.

Now, a coach takes a lot more heat than an exec, and I wish all the best for Gretzky, but we'll just see how he and his players respond. There are quite a few rule changes that Gretzky didnt play under.

At 8/09/2005 07:19:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Great points John.

I would only say that I know nothing positive or negative about Jordan at Washington. But he was an owner, then a player...and not an official coach.

Same with Super Mario. I mean, I get your point about him running the show. He was the owner and as such influenced all club decisions. But on the ice, during a game...they had a "coach" and then they had Mario the teammate. In fact, I would suggest that Pittsburgh's struggles on the ice might have as much to do with the players essentially having two coaches...perhaps sending conflicting signals. Mostly, though, for the Pens...it's been their finances. When they had Kovalev and Jagr and Mario...they were really good. When money dried up and they had to fire sale all their players...their winning ceased.

But I hear you, man. There's no way to tell whatsoever. Sports and coaching in sports is a place where the adage of "those who can't do...teach" might apply. Gretzky clearly has exceptional skills and hockey sense. He knows the game. but coaching is so much more than knowing the game. It's leadership...motivation...strategy...communication...personality management.

I just think Wayne's got as good a chance as anyone to be a great coach...maybe a little better.

At 8/09/2005 10:06:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

It's all a crapshoot. In baseball you have rather mediocre former players like Tony LaRussa, Lou Pinella, and Ozzie Guillen being very sucessful coaches. I think just like being a great athelete comes from something inside you that no one has, the same can be said for great coaching.

At 8/10/2005 03:16:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

It is nice to think that Gretzky could be a good coach...but I don't think it's going to happen. There have been many, many star players over the years in every sport that have tried it and have failed.

I also think that the Coyotes are going to kick some ass--but it's the playoffs, if they make it, that will determine whether Gretzky is really the "motivator" or "chemist" that makes a difference.

But---anyway, a season to find out.

At 8/10/2005 08:11:00 AM, Blogger Kevin Rector said...

Ozzie Guillen wasn't mediocre. He wasn't a hall of famer, but he was definitely better than mediocre.

At 8/10/2005 09:01:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Silly White-Sox apologists.

At 8/10/2005 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

No offense, but Guillen was the definition of a mediocre player. Granted, this is a Cubs fan talking, so I'm showing some bias.

At 8/11/2005 08:19:00 AM, Blogger DannyNoonan said...

Does Phoenix seriously have a hockey team? That just seems wrong.

At 8/11/2005 12:58:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Careful Danny. That kind of talk makes you sound Canadian. They love bashing us "non-traditional hockey markets."

At 8/11/2005 02:54:00 PM, Blogger DannyNoonan said...

I think if any Canadian knew as little as I do about hockey they would be deported.


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