THN: "You're fired"
Die neueste Ausgabe des
nordamerikanischen Fachmagazins "The Hockey News" beschäftigt sich in der Titelstory mit dem harten Leben im Trainergeschäft.
For Barry Melrose, it’s just another morning skate on the day of a game.
Nearly two years after his Los Angeles Kings took the NHL by storm,
making it all the way to the Stanley Cup final only to lose in five
games to Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens, his team is struggling.
But the flashy Melrose, who loves the spotlight and often looks like a
cross between a Hollywood pimp and a mobster with his long hair –
remember, mullets were all the rage in 1995 – and black pinstripe
suits, isn’t worried. He knows his Kings will shake their funk.
Besides, he has switched up his lines, changed goalies and even altered
the forechecking system. Now that’s coaching, baby.
Surely something’s gotta give. And it does.
When the skate ends, Melrose is summoned into the GM’s office. In no
uncertain terms, Melrose hears the words numerous NHL coaches hear
every season: “You’re fired.”
There’s no Donald Trump pointing in his direction. No TV lights and cameras. And no future in the Kings organization.
Just pack up your stuff and get the hell out of town.
“They call (assistant coach) Cap (Raeder) and I into the office and
tell us we’re fired,” recalls Melrose, now a successful NHL analyst on
“We’ve got our sons – I think they were six and eight at the time – out
on the ice and the kids are having the time of their lives. Now we have
to go down and tell the boys we’ve been fired. Both of them burst into
tears. They’re bawling their eyes out because just a few moments
earlier their dads had the coolest jobs in the world, coaching the Los
And if you think the kids are upset, just wait until Melrose’s wife, Cindy, hears the news.
“I call her and tell her to bring the truck down to the rink because
Cap and I drove in to work together,” Melrose says. “His car won’t fit
all our stuff in it. Cindy is a very fiery lady and by time she gets to
the rink, she is hopping mad. The (Edmonton) Oilers are on the ice for
their skate and she starts yelling, ‘Go Oilers! I hope you kick their
asses tonight! The Kings suck!’ It was quite a scene.”
It’s a scene that many coaches and their families have been through.
Perhaps the script was different, but the end result was the same.
You know the old saying; coaches are hired to be fired. From the second a coach is hired, he is on the clock.
Think about it, when was the last time an NHL coach retired of his own accord?
Scotty Bowman in 2002? Larry Robinson since retired from the Devils,
but that was because the stress of the job got to him. Others, such as
Pat Burns (illness) and Darryl Sutter (remained as Flames GM) had other
reasons for leaving the bench. Rarely, though, does a coach say,
“That’s it. I’ve had fun, but my time is up.”
Already this season, two coaches – Ken Hitchcock with the Flyers and
Gerard Gallant with the Blue Jackets – received pink slips. And others
will follow. They always do.
It is not unusual for a half-dozen or so coaches to be fired each
season. Last year, five bit the dust. In 2003-04, it was seven; in the
season before that, eight.
For most coaches, being fired is one of the most humiliating,
embarrassing days of their lives. They love to coach, so it’s like
their reason for living has been taken away – or so it seems at the
“Nobody has any idea how devastating being fired is,” Hitchcock says.
“It’s one thing to go through being fired, but quite another to be
fired publicly. The first thing you do is spend a lot of time blaming
yourself. And the worst feeling is knowing that in order to get back
in, another coach is going to have to go through what you have just
And when a coach is fired, no matter how successful he has been
throughout his career, he nearly always has a sinking feeling in his
gut that he’ll never be back. There are, after all, only 30 NHL head
jobs up for grabs.
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