This is bullshit.
OK, so maybe I'm more than a little pessimistic.
This team, as-is, should be competing for a playoff spot. This team, as-is, should beat Vancouver and their shitacular one goalie, one-line attack, even on the road. This team, as-is, should seem more goddamn cohesive and fired up and pissed off after losing all these winnable games. This team includes a couple hotheads who have been suspended by the league for head-high slashes (Tkachuk) and have attached prospect-camp types with over-the-head-chops when they get pissed in training camp (Guerin).
This team has a leading scorer (Stempniak) who cannot consistantly get time on the top line and in powerplay situations.
This team cannot play together for more than about two shifts without getting all of their lines jumbled.
This team is fucked up.
And some things need to to happen like NOW, before the next game on Wednesday in Columbus. Columbus is a team in trouble and needs to be beaten. The next game is that Friday against the hated Wings on the road before a Saturday night must-win against a terrible Coyotes team. I expect two wins out of that three-game set.
Actually, that's wrong. I expect three wins out of that set. Columbus is a talented team that is like a rudderless ship. They fired their old coach and their interim deadbeat is just waiting to be replaced. I swear you can watch that balding bitch actually lose hair during a game as he checks email on his Crackberry waiting to hear about the Monster.com ads that he sent email resumes.
The Blues should win that game. These Blues probably won't.
The fucking Red Wings are overrated. They are beatable. Especially in their own overrated building in front of their overrated bandwagon-assed fans. They will be looking past the Blues. Especially these Blues. That game should be stolen. If Legace can't find a way to shut his old team out - the team that made him the starter and then blamed their playoff flame-out on him - the team that refused to offer him a contract after years and years (and years) of loyal service - if he can't beat that team then he should be put on waivers immediately. For me, the greatest test of this latest Red Wings infiltrator is whether or not he can beat the team that he has the greatest desire to beat.
If he can't beat them, what good could he possibly be?
As for the Coyotes, we should have beaten the piss out of them the last time they were here. Saturday after Turkey Day better be a slaughter for that AHLesque squad.
Here's what needs to happen:
Coach Kitchen = Coach Trash Bin By The Curb. If I'd been the lead guy on the buying group, I would have fired Kitchen when I fired GM Larry Pleau and Prez Sauer. Out with the old, in with the new. When that didn't happen, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He works better with veterans than kids. Fine, now he has vets. He can work the lineup better if he has more talent? Fine, heere's more talent.
But he still seems to mismanage this team. How does he not realize that Dutchie Stempniak (recently called by John Davidson a 'special' player) should be getting PP time and more than 12 minutes a night?
Why, WHY does he continue to juggle these lines? At a recent pick-up beer-league skate, a great player told me that he glanced up to see what handed shot I was before he made a pass. That glance cost him the move/pass he wanted to make. To me, that actually translates to good players at the NHL level, too. If, say, you always skate with a right handed winger and a left handed center, you don't have to take that split-second. If you're a pro, and you have to take a split second to remember WHO is on your line, let alone what hand they shoot with, you are screwing up your team's efficiency.
Kitchen seems to have no idea that familiarity breeds, well, familiarity. He has no idea how to utilize anyone under 30 years old. He seems... he seems like a fantastic assitant coach.
From all our previous reports, Kitchen is an outstanding assistant. He executes the drills, he is in great shape and can work out anyone out there. He can see and execute defensive pairings and schemes. He just seems to be a step behind as a head coach.
In Britain, the Royal Marines are the baddest of the bad asses. I had the opportunity to meet, train and drink with a few of them years ago. The great thing about the Royal Marines is their individual places within the organization. Unlike the American Marines, and unlike almost any American organization, the Royal Marines did not believe in the up-or-out philosophy. In the American military, if you fail to be promoted, you are forced out. In the RoYal Marines, if you like being a private who is a jeep driver, you can stay a private jeep driver for 20 years. You get pay raises commensurate with your years of service and with the cost of living, so you can stay a private jeep driver forever, love your job, be great at your job and afford to luve a normal life doing a job you like. Doesn't that make almost too much sense? How good is your driver if you get a guy who has been doing his less-than-top-level job for over 20 years? He's awesome!
Why does the NHL/hockey business assume the same thing? Why does a great assistant have to become a head coach? Kitchen should be an excellent assistant. We should admitr that. HE should admit that.
But we've come too far for that. Kitchen has to go. Now. He can go become an assistant for someone else (Toronto, I'm looking in your general direction).