- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"You never knew. I was playing against Chicago, New Year's Eve. I'd been in the doghouse at that time, and I went down to block a shot on my second shift. My face is cut, lower lip to the nose. I'm off to the dressing room for repairs, and as I go by him, Scotty says, if you're not back in five minutes, you won't play another shift. There's an older doctor, not the fastest guy with stitches, and I'm trying to hurry him up. Glue, stitches, whatever. Let's go. I get 10 stitches, I'm back on the bench quick, maybe four minutes. And Scotty still didn't play me another shift. Played five [defensemen] the rest of the game."
Bowman now recalls Ward as "very intelligent, just not someone who showed a lot of hockey sense. There were a lot of giveaways early in his career. I think he was nervous. The puck was like a hand grenade for him." Hmmm, you wonder why.
Now near the end of his career (last month he was put on waivers and went through unclaimed), Ward has generally been a dependable player, winning two Stanley Cups with Detroit and another with Carolina in 2006. He also kept himself clear of Julien's doghouse during two seasons in Boston. But a coach's mongrel treatment does not always yield a lasting benefit—Frolov, for example, has slipped back into Kibbles-'n-Bits territory, after his postbenching surge—and it can even be risky. "The response to the doghouse is based on the player," Penner says. "You can keep a player in there too long. And like baking a cake, if you keep it in the oven too long, you burn it. There's nothing you can do with it."
"If you have a player who's not playing well and you beat him, the player becomes insecure," says Thrashers coach and former NHL left wing John Anderson, who recalls being in Toronto coach Joe Crozier's bad books. "We always talk about confidence. When you strip that away, you're left with nothing."
If you are hardy like retired forward Scott Mellanby and can survive your early years under a taskmaster such as former Philadelphia coach Mike Keenan—"Keenan once personally skated Mellanby by himself after [the regular Saturday pregame skate] at the Montreal Forum, and you know how many people saw that," former Flyers teammate Dave Poulin says of the public humiliation—you might go on to a solid 21-year NHL career. If you are not, well, then maybe no one can remember your name. "Those are the guys who just fade away," says Poulin, now the Maple Leafs' vice president of hockey operations. "In professional athletics, you really do need a thick skin." Without one, a dog may never have his day.
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