Thursday, October 11, 2007


More questions, while I'm thinking of it

I'd love it if you added your own in the comments... the idea is not to ask snarky, Gotcha! questions, though I'm happy to entertain those too. I'm more interested in questions that might actually illuminate how NHL Coach X sees hockey, how well he understands his own team, how realistic his big picture is, and how that informs his ongoing decision-making. Disingenuous questions (e.g. my previous post) are fine so long as they're designed to elicit information or opinion, not imply that he's a jackass.

Q. Coach, you guys talk a lot about consistency: especially as it pertains to effort, but also regarding decision-making, positional play, etcetera. If your penalty killers achieved the consistency you're seeking for a whole season, what would your PK% be? And assuming the answer isn't 100%, what kinds of PP goals would you still allow on occasion despite a sound, consistent PK?

Q. Coach, if you knew your guys were going to play consistently well for the next 10 games -- no "bad periods" -- how many goals would you expect to allow? What would your record be?

Q. Joe Sakic has 1,591 career NHL points, and hardly seems to be slowing down. You play him eight times this year. If you defend him extremely well, how many points will he collect in those eight games?

Q. One thing that's noticeably different in the post-lockout NHL is that there are fewer whistles. In what percentage of your Goals Against would you say that a line change (on-the-fly) was a factor -- where someone who just got on is out of position, or someone who left misjudged the time available? In what percentage of your Goals Against would you say that a player/line being on the ice too long and being tired was a factor?

Q. Every coach has matchups they like and ones they don't, and sometimes matchups you don't want are unavoidable, particularly on the road. In what percentage of your Goals Against would you say that a matchup you didn't want was a factor?

Q. The flip side: what percentage of your Goals For are attributable in part to getting a matchup that you like?

Q. Nearly every team that comes into the Saddledome has a particular forward line that you're going to be pretty vigilant about matching up against. It seems like depending on the opponent, sometimes the priority is getting a particular defense pairing matched up against them, and sometimes it's getting a particular forward line matched up against them. Without necessarily going into specifics re: opponents, can you explain what goes into making this determination?

Q. Let's say you're consumed with a family problem for a day or two, and you're not as prepared as you could be for a particular opponent. What happens? What are the symptoms on the ice? What's the most likely thing that a semi-serious fan would notice?


Just coaches? Not GMs?

I think a lot of coaches give out garbage answers because they get asked a lot of garbage questions. I think the last two questions you list are actually questions about coaching. The first are asking to set quantitative targets on things that don't matter (playoff position will never be decided based on performance vs. Joe Sakic) or are inherntly unpredictable (I've to hear anyone consistently predict the success of a team over a ten game stretch). And the middle ones are better left for statisticians.

Your second last questions highlights the problems: requiring a coach to go into specifics would likely hinder the succcess of the team. I don't really envy coaches: if they actually talk about their job, they hurt the team. If they talk in generalities and qualitative terms, they piss off fans. If they just say "screw it" and skip press conferences, they get fined by the league.

Of course, as much as I think coach interviews/press conferences suck, I think the player interviews are even worse. How many times have you heard this? "Well, we just have to keep up the intensity, put pucks on the net and good things will happen."

That's a lot to address, but:

**This is my what-if. I'm not talking about what I'd ask in a scrum if I worked for TSN.

**Regarding the middle questions: no. I'd ask them these things not to find out the correct numbers, but to find out things like (A) do they know or are they guessing, and (B) assuming the number is non-zero, how they address it and what are the tradeoffs.

**Point somewhat taken regarding the first questions -- I'm sure there's better ways to find out what I want to know -- but seriously: at this point in my life as a fan, I think I'm owed a thoughtful answer to the question, "What does consistency look like?" I know no coach would say it's 82-0-0, but I want a good answer.

A lot of those come of as "if you were a tree..." type questions. Too hypothetical.

Oh..and to address the "what does consistency look like?"...see Flames road games 06/07, or all Oilers games post trade deadline. Or do you mean good consistent?

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