Is It the Coach or the Players?

Because it’s a slow time for sports, and also because the Bruins failed to make the playoffs again, the talk around the Bruins this week has been whether a coaching change, or a “different voice” would benefit the Bruins. This has come to light thanks to Mike Sullivan’s success in Pittsburgh after taking over for Mike Johnston.

So the question is, would the Bruins have benefited this year, or next, with a new coach? Is one example of success with a coaching change enough of a sample to say that it would work?

Some think so, but you have to look a bit deeper to see why Pittsburgh might be having success.

And duh, it’s the players.

Sure, Pittsburgh has always had the core of Sidney Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and Fleury. But in the offseason they added Phil Kessel, and then added Carl Hagelin and Trevor Daley. They also got a healthy Nick Bonino, who coincidentally scored the OT winner in game 6 against the Caps the other night. Oh, and they fell ass over tea kettle into Matt Murray.

Here’s a question. Would there be a need for a “different voice” if the Bruins had the Penguins roster? I think we all know the answer to that. Conversely, would Mike Sullivan have made much of a difference with Jimmy Hayes or Brett Connolly? Or that defense? I think we all know the answer to that as well.

Look, Julien has his faults. No Marchand in shootouts, Pastrnak with limited PP time, etc. But every time someone says they need a coaching change, it’s said with the caveat that Julien is an “elite” coach. Should Julien take the majority of the heat for another “collapse” when earlier in the season everyone was raving about the coaching job he was doing with such a limited roster?  Why can’t this be on the players?

Over the course of a NHL season, talent eventually makes coaches look better or worse than they really are. Don  Sweeney and Cam Neely essentially laid this at the feet of the roster, and by extension themselves, in bringing back Julien. So it’s now on them to supply their coach with better talent. Then it’s up to that talent to play to their expectations.






Lifelong Bruins fan whose hockey career peaked in high school. Now a hockey dad.

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