Do NHL coaches know how to handle star players?

Recently, much has been made of PK Subban and the comments that were made by Michel Therrien in regards to his play. Being that Subban plays in Canada, naturally everything that was said was inflated to the highest degree possible.

It raises an interesting point to everyone who watches hockey: Do coaches have any idea what the hell they are doing with star players?

Watching this excellent segment from Mike Johnson, you begin to realize just how often we scapegoat certain players when in reality other moments are more indicative of what has happened during the game. A point that Johnson brings up in that clip is how star players make more head-turning moments than any other group, but seem to get the blame an inordinate amount. How does that make any sense at all? The risk comes with the reward. We as general onlookers want to put the blame on the big mistake, but only shrug our shoulders when the outstanding play has become all too common.

A similar situation has taken place with the idea of Erik Karlsson with the Ottawa Senators. He is currently on pace to have the best offensive season for a defensemen in the last 20 years. This isn’t anything to scoff at. He is getting dangerously close to putting up 80’s NHL type numbers, stuff that we don’t ever see anymore. Yet all we ever do is focus on what he supposedly can’t do. I hear all the time and read all the time that he can’t play defense and all he does is score points. The last time I played this game, I remember that outscoring your opponent was a big part of the game. Players are allowed to be multifaceted without being so overt in their intentions. When a player is in the offensive zone, it means they are having to play less in their own end which is a very, very good thing.

Ryan Johansen was accused this year of being lazy and sloth-like and because of it may have seen his time in Ohio cut short. John Tortorella was brought in to kick start the team but in the process it may have upset the young centerman. The folks over at Buckeye State Hockey made a fair and salient point before he ended up getting traded.

“The Blue Jackets have suffered this year, there is no doubt. Removing a top-tier scoring threat seems an odd way to address team-wide problems, particularly in a time when scoring is so difficult. Ryan Johansen may or may not be a sloth. At worst, he’s a supremely talented sloth, already performing at top line levels in important ways. Asking for much more is tricky, and rejecting such scoring might come with minimal returns.”

The last sentence is what hits heaviest to me. Players in this league would kill for this skill and do what they do with their natural god given talent. It is time for coaches to stand aside and let the players with the natural ability do as they see fit on the ice while not limiting their potential. How many rough and tumble coaches have ruined players coming out of the draft because they want to fundamentally change what they are as a player? That isn’t what the sport should be about. It should harvest creativity and welcome it at every turn. The coaches have dulled down the game and because of it they have dulled down the players. It is time for the players to get their league back.

About Sam Blazer

Sam is a self proclaimed chess prodigy. He once placed seventh in the state of Ohio in Chess when he was in kindergarten. He will rarely if ever mention though that only eight people were entered in this tournament. Contact him at