Thursday, April 14, 2005

Habscheid: The right guy?

There is an interesting contrast of opinion between the Globe's Alan Maki and the Province's Tony Gallagher on whether or not Marc Habscheid, an accomplished junior coach who has never coached in the NHL, is the right man to man the bench for Team Canada at the World Championships.

From Gallagher, as per a column printed in Wednesday's National Post:
"[C]oach Marc Habscheid is clearly inexperienced at this level... he has no head-coaching experience in the National Hockey League. NHL players from Finland, the Czech Republic and Russia have complained in the past that a lack of NHL experience just doesn't pass muster in these situations... So now you have an inexperienced head coach going out of his comfort zone with a system, trying to coach players who may have questions of respect."
Talk about making something out of nothing (something, some might say, that is a Gallagher specialty). A key part of Gallagher's argument is that Habscheid's assistant, Tom Renney, is a more experienced coach (based, I suppose, on two shaky stints in the top spot with the Canucks and Rangers) and one who favours employing a trap system.

While Habscheid also has experienced great success while employing a trap system — exhibit A being his masterful Memorial Cup win with a somewhat ragtag bunch in the 2004 Kelowna Rockets — Canada will play with "an aggressive forecheck game," just as it has in nearly every international tournament.

The funny thing is, even though he offered to step down to allow a 'more-experienced' coach step into the role, Habscheid has the backing of Team Canada brass, including Wayne Gretzky.

Says Maki:
And yet with Habscheid at the helm, everything looks right and feels right, especially to those who know Habscheid or have played for him in the past.
Personally, having watched Habscheid at the helm with both the Kamloops Blazers and the Rockets, I couldn't agree more. If anything, Habscheid is more qualified to lead this bunch than Pat Quinn, who, let's face it, is not the coaching dynamo many make him out to be.

Should Canada not three-peat this year, I have full confidence that it won't because of the staff behind the bench. I guess we'll see.

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