For the NHL, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Bruins Coaching Change
The Man Behind The Curtain
No one knows more, or cares more, about the Bruins than CM. Harry Sinden, who has been at his job for nearly 30 years. Last week Sinden dismissed Pat Bums, a smart and demanding coach, and replaced him with Mike Keenan, a smart and demanding coach, and the decision, in Sinden's words, "came down to me."
That's true of much of what Boston does, which is why the coaching change will likely have minimal impact. Year after year Sinden, 68, assembles a decent team that doesn't have enough depth for the playoff grind. Boston hasn't reached the Cup finals since 1990. Since then eight other Eastern Conference teams have gone to the finals, while Sinden has changed coaches five times.
Sinden made the latest switch because he felt the Bruins were too passive under Burns. (They went 3-4-1 this season and 105-103-46 in his three-plus years at the helm.) 'We were playing every game to win 2-1," says Sinden. "I want us to be able to win 2-1 or 7-6, depending on the night." Keenan may inject the aggressiveness that Sinden seeks, yet Boston's fate rests largely on its personnel, the quality of which is restricted by team owner Jeremy Jacobs's keeping a tight lid on payroll, a policy Sinden endorses.
In the aftermath of the coaching change, Sinden said he plans to make way for assistant general manager Mike O'Connell to succeed him, "sooner rather than later." Until then, for better and worse, the Bruins will remain all about Harry.
Special Time for Special Teams
The vast increase in penalties being called this season isn't only leading to higher scoring (5.6 goals per game through 153 matches in 2000-01, compared with 5.3 at the same point last season) but also is forcing coaches to reapportion ice time and, in some cases, is affecting players' careers. The Flyers recently sent 21-year-old rookie center Petr Hubacek to the minors because he wasn't getting enough playing time to develop. "You have some power plays, you kill some penalties, and suddenly you look down and you have a guy who's only played a minute and a half," says Philadelphia coach Craig Ramsay. "It's hard to keep things balanced."
Kings coach Andy Murray, concerned that his penalty killers were playing too many minutes, has tried to spread playing time by employing skilled forwards such as Ziggy Palffy on the penalty kill. Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn recently used three power-play units in a game against Minnesota. "Would I normally do that?" Quinn says. "Of course not."