How much does coaching actually matter in hockey? I've seen this discussion many times in baseball forums but, since I never actually played any organized hockey, I wonder how off base my opinion is as to how much difference a good coach can make versus a bad one.
In any sport, the coach is under a lot of pressure to be proactive when the team struggles, even if that turns out to be a terrible idea like rewarding John Scott with more TOI because he works hard in practice. In baseball, where the manager's decisions are made before the start of the game, this usually involves doing dumb stuff like having position players lay down sac bunts. This gets praise for "playing the game the right way" or for "making things happen" if by chance it actually works.
It seems to me that, during the actual game, the hockey coach has a lot more control of match ups and, more importantly, TOI. The problem as I see it with coaching a game that flows the way hockey does is that there's only so much the coach can do to get players where they need to be but a lot of it depends on the players' own instincts.
I'm guessing a lot of you saw the documentary about that Canada vs. The USSR 8 game series from back in the 70s. For those that didn't, the Canadians were more or less an NHL all star team that expected to wipe the floor with the Soviets. The Canadians back then played a style of hockey that was more like a pick up game that relied on talent over tactics. The Russians had game plan, an organized power play and crushed the Canadians in game 1 of the series. This ultimately led to fundamental changes in the way hockey was played- at least according to the players in the film.
Like other sports, Hockey coaches don't get paid as much as their "employees". So how much difference does coaching at the NHL level make? It's summer and we're all bored