Meet John Stevens
After the initial shock/joy died down following Bob Clarke's resignation on Sunday, a new question emerged among hockey fans: "Who on earth is John Stevens, and why is he coaching the Philadelphia Flyers?"
The Globe and Mail's Alberta-based sportswriter Al Maki had a go at answering that in today's paper:
Stevens wasted little time trying to snap the Flyers out of their lethargy. At his second practice, he used Simon Gagné on different lines with different centres. Even defenceman Freddy Meyer took a turn at forward. More important, the players welcomed the sound of a new voice and the hopefulness it signalled.Stevens is one of those type of players who seemingly always go on to be head coaches: He was a nondescript, stay-at-home defenceman who played the majority of his pro career in the minors. Off the top of my head, Mike Kitchen, Alain Vigneault, Jim Playfair, Claude Julien and Peter Laviolette all fit into that category, with the likes of Randy Carlyle, Dave Lewis, Joel Quenneville, Lindy Ruff and Trent Yawney having manned the blueline mainly in the NHL.
"There are different styles of coaching, different styles of players, leaders," Richards told the media. "Some people are very soft-spoken, like Johnny is. When he talks, people listen."
Is there something about defensive defenceman that they make good coaches? Or is there something to be said for playing in the minors translating into a different feel for the game?
Only 11 of the 30 current NHL head coaches ever played 500 games in the league, while just five coaches managed to hit the 1,000 game mark (Wayne Gretzky, Guy Carbonneau, Craig MacTavish, Carlyle and Lewis).