19 April 2007
I made a comment this morning, more in jest than anything, and got a curious response from our friend, FauxRumors. After taking some more time today to catch up on my hockey reading one theme that has emerged from the disater that was the Atlanta Thrashers first trip to the playoffs. Many people, including Our friends over at FAUXRUMORS mentioned Hartly should be fired, but Greg Wyshynski of the NHLFanhouse really decided to drive the point home. While I can't say anything about Hartly's coaching in this series, because by all accounts he was thoughroughly out-coached in every sense of the word, I can comment on his overall coaching ability.
For a moment let's not mention his '00-'01 cup that he won in Colorado. As many of his critics point out, a lot of average and even incompatent coaches could have won the cup with that loaded roster. (Yes that whole paragraph was an excuse to link to that glorious roster)
Let's look at his record in Atlanta and see if it warrents another season. In Atlanta he's coached 285 games. Taking out the ties (which you need to do to calculate the winning %) he's coached 264 games with a decision. He's won 92 which gives him a .511 winning ratio. Not too shabby.in the 207 games before he got there, the Thrashers had 181 games with a decision (not a Tie). They won 64 of those games and had a winning ratio of exactly .354. While some of this has to do with player aquisitions, Hartly has led a team that went from NHL laughingstock, to NHL playoff laughingstock. While this doesn't seem like a big improvement, it really has been. Yes the SE division was incredibly weak this season, but let's not forget that division has produced the last 2 Stanley Cup champs, so over his Atlanta Stint he has been facing excelent competition (Washington and Florida excluded).
While I can sympathize with people who feel their coach has had his pants pulled down in the playoffs, let's not forget what he has done for that franchise, and they are on the verge of becoming a credible Eastern Conferece team (if such a thing exists outside Buffalo). I think calls for his firing are a little premature. What he has done is raised Atlanta's expectations, next year they better win the first round series, and by coaching so poorly in the playoffs he has put himself on the hot seat. This seems to be about the right consequences of his actions.
So I think Hartly's job is safe, and should be, and he needs to be reevaluated at the end of next season. Coaches, as well as players, have bad games and series and I feel Atlanta would really be doing their franchise a disservice by not giving a coach, who has been a good coach for them, another chance.
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