It’s Hockey Coach Firing and Hiring Season

With four new NHL head coaches being announced recently, and two on Friday the 13th, I guess we can’t call hockey coaches and management superstitious.

Most coach hirings come with the usual quotes from owners and GM’s; “…he is he right fit for our team”, “…he brings discipline”, “…brings intensity”. They are all touted as the best man for the job. Typically, at the pro level at least, the ‘best man’ has about a three year shelf life.

At most levels of the game a hockey coach has a similar job description. Knowledge of tactics and strategies, the ability to develop players, run quality practices, handle the stress of game situations, and the ability to motivate players are common traits that we look for in a coach.

There are a couple of traits that will set a few coaches apart from others-communication skills and integrity.

Communication skills are important at any level of coaching. Most coaches are good talkers. The great ones are also good listeners. Mastering the different forms of verbal and nonverbal communication will be a tremendous asset for anyone.

Integrity speaks to the core of the person. The elite coach will base all his coaching on his integrity. There won’t be any attempts to fool players, staff or media. Players will be the first to see through a coach. Others will soon follow.

Strong organizations make great hires almost all the time. Coaching is rarely easy, but a coach in a quality environment has a far better chance to be successful. During the hiring process, the first place an organization, or the individual doing the hiring, should look is at the structure and culture of their organization. This is a key factor in deciding who should be hired and how successful the new coach will be.

“Coaches are hired to be fired”. Bet you heard that one before. There are all kinds of reasons why coaches eventually hear that the organization is ‘…going in a different direction’. Lack of regular season or playoff success is a common reason. One that grates me is ‘the players didn’t like the coach’. When the inmates are running the asylum, nothing much good gets accomplished. Sometimes, the coach just needs to be replaced. Maybe the reason a coach gets fired is the most common reason for a firing-the boss just doesn’t like you.

The coaching profession is no place for a superstitious person. Neither is it a place for management who don’t start the firing and hiring process with an honest look inward.