One of those has been removed as of this past Wednesday. Adam Oates and his NHL coaching staff are back in Washington and will no longer be contributing to the Hershey Bears...at least in person.
According to Coach French, the system implemented by Oates WILL REMAIN in place moving forward. Tweaks will be made based on necessity but the system will not be scrapped. (Personally, I would imagine adjustments have already been made.)
One theory on the team's bad start was that with two coaches, players didn't know which to follow. Surely there were differences of opinions between the coaching staffs and players were likely told different things from time to time. Even if we assume that the coaches all spoke the 'company line' and stuck to the same message, the message was watered down to appease both head bosses.
But that experiment is over. Will the Bears turn things around now?
Only time will tell but I don't think that was the only problem. It may have been at the root of all the problems, but if you expect to see a completely different team on the road tonight or at home tomorrow, you are probably going to be disappointed.
In my personal opinion the problem with this team right now is simple...communication. Or a lack of. Admittedly, my seats at GC aren't optimally placed to hear players talking to each other on the ice so maybe it is happening, but I can assure you that it isn't enough.
You can see it on the ice. Whether its a breakdown in the defensive zone or some confusion on who should go for the loose puck, the players don't seem to be taking advantage of their most simple tool.
This brings us back to the too many new players and not enough consistency in lines problem I discussed previously. Aucoin and Giroux and Bourque were all so good together because they got used to playing on the same line with each other game after game, no matter what was happening or not happening. Familiarity is developed over time, not overnight.
And sure as hell not for one period. Each of the last 2 games I have seen good line composition (at least in my opinion) at the start of the games. But in each of those 2 games I saw the lines shuffled before long. How are guys supposed to learn each other tendencies and styles if they are changing line mates all game long.
I won't place all of this blame on Coach Oates, but one of French's biggest weaknesses (again, just my opinion) is sticking with a line TOO LONG. Anyone remember the Texas Stars series a few years ago? He waited until the last possible moment, his team down 2 games to none and trailing entering the 3rd period of game 3 before he finally changed the lines.
So part of me thinks (and hopes) that the construction of lines and adjustments was mainly the responsibility of Oates. And if that is the case, the Bears should improve.
This is basically a coaching change in midseason. Sure it is just going back to where the team was last year, but 10 of the active players played ZERO games with Hershey last season. And another handful only played or practiced with the team for a few games.
Since training camp opened back in September the team had two coaches, two coaching styles, and many different opinions. Now they have one coach, one coaching style, and just a couple opinions to worry about. BUT, that will take a bit to get used to.
I still believe this team has the talent to compete in the 2012-13 AHL. You can see it when the game is 0-0 in the first period. Unfortunately, as soon as they give up a goal, everything seems to change.
Teams in hockey routinely change coaches and see success throughout the rest of the year. I expect nothing different from the Hershey Bears.
The season starts now. The Bears are 3 points out of playoff position with 60 games to play.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!!