they'll ban me from the building.
The season has already seen one coach lose his job, with the Islanders relieving Scott Gordon of his duties in November. There's also been plenty of early-season speculation around Toronto's Ron Wilson and New Jersey's John Maclean, and the circling vultures have also been spotted in cities like Calgary, Buffalo and Ottawa.
As soon as a coach's job seems to be in jeopardy, attention inevitably turns to the players. How are they reacting? Do they seem to be working harder to save his job? Or have they committed the ultimate sin and quit on their coach in an effort to speed his exit?
Accusing players of giving less than their best can be a touchy subject, but there are some telltale signs that it could be happening. So if you happen to be an NHL coach of a struggling team, you'll want to keep an eye out for these subtle sign that your players want you out.
- The chants for you to be fired are getting louder and louder, which seems like a bad sign since you're sitting on the team bus on the way to the game.
- Every time you try to address the team during a timeout, you can't help but notice the players all looking at their "What Would Ken Hitchcock Do?" bracelets.
- Star players are occasionally deviating from their assignments during the crucial final minutes of close games; for example, instead of your first line winger being one stick length from the top of the faceoff circle with backside coverage of the point man and an active stick clogging the passing lane, he's in the dressing room playing Xbox with the starting goaltender.
- In addition to "Jim from High River" and "Bill from Strathmore", the post-game radio show has started getting calls demanding your firing from "Jarome from the first line".
- When the team captain says "We're all doing our best to win for our coach" during a post-game interview, he makes those finger quotes for the words "best", "win" and "coach".
- When you angrily tell your lazy star player that he can either do things your way or pack his bags, he just looks up from the pages of his 15-year $100 million contract and asks "Sorry, do I know you?".
- During the team Christmas party, all the players' children keep climbing up on Santa's lap, pointing in your direction, and making a throat slash gesture.
- After you call a player into your office to discuss a mistake they made in the previous period, he replies "Gosh, I hope you're not that critical of me next game when you're on the TSN intermission panel."
- During practice, Jason Spezza and Alexei Kovalev aren't trying as hard as usual during the "commit a lazy neutral zone turnover then nonchalantly circle back without bothering to cover anyone" drills, although come to think of it why do we even have those in the first place?
- While you realize that an occasional accidental puck shot into the bench is an occupational hazard that you just have to deal with, it still seems excessive to have it happen thirty or forty times during the pregame warm-up.
- Nobody has come right out and told you that you're about to be replaced by some unqualified rookie who talks a big game but is in way over his head, but they've already arranged for Don Cherry to introduce him.