Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The Winning Feeling

'Badger' Bob Johnson was the Calgary Flames' first great coach. Calgary was his 1st NHL gig; he coached here for 5 years, and became a Flames legend, mostly on the strength of halting the Oil's head-to-head dominance (including handing Sather & Friends their only playoff defeat between 1983 & 1989). His 2nd and final gig was in Pittsburgh. He led the Pens (Lemieux, Sandstrom, Francis, Barrasso, and a rookie Jagr, among others) to the Stanley Cup in 1991, then died of a brain tumour in November of the same year.

If there was one thing Bob Johnson was famous (or notorious) for, it was relentless positivity. Relentless. It retrospect, you forget how awkward it felt at the time: we all know that optimism sounds suspiciously like denial when things are going poorly. I cracked out this quote last season after the Oil followed up a 3-0 start with 7 straight losses, if only because the last two sentences are put so well:
Johnson wouldn't even acknowledge that ten consecutive losses constituted a slump. Trying to keep his poise as everybody around him lost theirs, Johnson commented: "You say to yourself, let's go back to the time when we were successful. What did we do differently? For the six weeks when we lost only two games, we were getting some breaks, we were getting some timely goals, and our goaltending was outstanding. Now, all of a sudden, we're not getting many goals, our defense is too tentative, and we're not getting good goaltending. We're in a slump because people keep telling us we're in a slump. People tell you you're playing badly and after a while, you start to believe it. People tell you you're playing great and you believe that, too. What do we need? We need to recapture the winning feeling. And the only way to do that is to win a game."

If you follow the link (or buy On Fire), you see where things go from there. I bring this up not because Badger was the greatest coach in NHL history, or that this kind of attitude is guaranteed results. I bring it up because the contrast between Then and Now could not be more painfully stark, and frankly it should be embarrassing to the present regime.
Coach Playfair, you may have what it takes, and things may turn out great, but right now you are Fucking Up, sir.


Coach Playfair, you may have what it takes, and things may turn out great, but right now you are Fucking Up, sir.

Here's my question, Matt: how is he any different than Sutter? Why does Sutter get the freebie? He built the roster, after all.

I'd have to think that Sutter gets the edge even if he built the roster cause in the years previous he got the team into the playoffs in style. Also he had one amazing run in the playoff in '04, but we all know what happened in '06.

Also I never had a chance to watch the great 'Badger' coach, but from all the quotes I've heard about him, the man sounds like the type of coach any team would love to have.

Playfair must be feeling the Sword Damocles dangling above his head at this point.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?