Tuesday, October 23, 2007

FRONTS: MAVETY, SPRINGER THROW A NECKTIE PARTY FOR CASSIDY

Firing coach Bruce Cassidy should light a fire under the Kingston Frontenacs that could last all the way to end of warmups tonight in Sudbury.

It's clear now that Cassidy, fired today after a year-plus with Larry Mavety's Light Brigade, walked straight into a buzzsaw from the moment he took the Fronts job at the start of the last season. He came in like every other coach Mavety's run out of town over the past decade, brimming with that classic jock confidence that with hard work and the right attitude, he could turn around the whole shootin' match, letting whatever warnings he might have had about the Kingston club being a complete and utter gong show go in one ear and out the other.

Cassidy's been in the AHL. He's been in the NHL. He will coach and win again, but he, like Jim Hulton before him, went into the fray with his legs tied with the Frontenacs. Changing the coach -- Mavety, with a lifetime losing record, will go behind the bench, grrrrrreat -- might take the pressure off for a young and undermanned Frontenacs team in the short turn, no more.

The song will remain the same with the Fronts so long the 65-year-old Mavety remains as entrenched as a veteran Liberal senator. That will apparently prevail since his enabler, Doug Springer, the team's owner, apparently believes Mavs walks on water. (God only knows why, and She's shaking Her head.)

It was written here at the end of last season that "it would be a mild shock" if Cassidy returned as coach after Mavety undermined him by letting Bobby Hughes back on the team after he quit between periods of a playoff game in an unspeakably selfish act that violates every taboo of team sports. (Seriously, this kind of stuff only seems to happen with the Fronts.)

Whatever the reason, he returned and it only got worse. The Frontenacs have some nice players, but they are 12 games in and haven't won a game in regulation time. They are dead last in all of Canadian major junior hockey in goals scored and in goals allowed. That says more about the talent assembled by the GM and his scouting department -- say, when is first-round draft choice Ethan Werek showing up? -- than the coaching. They're thin on defence, the goaltending is spotty and qualities such as a power play and secondary scoring are just concepts.

GONG SHOW

At the end of the day, Mavety's fingerprints and by extension Springer's are all over this necktie party. (Who knows, maybe they're proud of themselves that their team got a mention on SportingNews.com.)

Springer's family real estate company owns half of Kingston and they and their buddies have secured a brand spanking new arena that was sorely needed. Guess what, Dougie? The average Joe on the street doesn't care about property development. They want to take their kids to the rink on a Friday night or lazy Sunday afternoon and watch a winning OHL team at some points in their lives. When the Fronts move into their new rink later this season, Kingston will have a Chevette team in a Cadillac building.

One of Canada's foremost hockey cities deserves more than Mavety and Springer fiddling while the dwindling number of Frontenacs fans do a slow burn.

It's T.S. for Bruce Cassidy. On the plus side, he's free of Larry Mavety, Doug Springer and the horrible stench of defeat they project. Kingston fans, not so much.

(UPDATE, 11:17 p.m.: 4-0 loss to Sudbury to tonight -- two short-handed goals against. Suh-weet.)

Related:
Fronts GM-for-Life Should Be Sacked Over Team's Arrested Development (March 31, 2007)

9 comments:

Tyler King said...

Any coincidence that he fires him right before an eminently winnable game that would have dampened the call for his firing and will allow him to take credit as interim coach for a 'turnaround'?

Best of luck to Cassidy in his future - an incredibly nice guy for a coach who's been to the big time on many occasions - I mean, he even agreed to appear on a college radio sports show (coincidentally hosted by yours truly). He, like the team, deserves better.

sager said...

Is this irony? The worst Kingston OHL team of all time was the 1987-88 crew that lost 28 in a row... after that season, guess who they hired as coach and GM?

Larry Mavety... but that was 20 years and god knows how many brain cells ago.

Dennis Prouse said...

Junior hockey seems to be loaded with guys like "Mav" - old hands who stick around based entirely on their connections and familiarity with the culture. The fact that their teams seem to suck matters not. This may also speak to the fact that junior hockey has become a lot more profitable in recent years, and as a result owners are willing to overlook mediocrity.

Ottawa also has an old junior hockey hand whose team is suffering, although not as much, and the Coach/GM in question has a much stronger record of success to say the least. I'll tell you what, though -- if the 67s limp along to another sub- .500 season, and attendance starts dropping, Jeff Hunt will have a tough decision on his hands. I have always maintained they made a mistake letting Vince Malette head down Highway 7 -- they should have promoted him, and let Killer stay as GM for a while.

sager said...

You got Malette's number? Maybe he can be GM-coach of the Fronts.

Dennis Prouse said...

That ship has sailed. Malette now has a good gig in Peterborough, a junior hockey hotbed where it is easy to attract top players. The fact that so many coaches have graduated from that program to the NHL probably wasn't lost on Malette either. (Scotty Bowman, Roger Neilson, Mike Keenan, Gary Green, and Dick Todd, albeit as an assistant, all parlayed their Peterborough coaching into an NHL career.) Malette, in fact, turned down the expansion Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL in order to go to the Petes.

sager said...

Dennis,

Was it you who expressed hope maybe some of Kingston's ex-NHLers would buy the team and end this nonsense... Muller, Gilmour, maybe get Dan Aykroyd (he lives there) in on it? The Tragically Hip probably have some cash, they're in that 1% of bands that make 99% of the money.

Dennis Prouse said...

I know Kamloops is in the midst of going that route, with a whole bunch of prominent former Blazers buying in. That sure would be nice for fans in Kingston, who deserve far better than they are getting right now. The only small problem is that your owner likely doesn't want to sell.

Anonymous said...

Springer is the root of all the problems . Plain and simply he is a glorified jock-sniffer who doesn't have a clue about any sport - let alone hockey. Our city will have to step in if it hasn't already. Only problem with that happening is the city doesn't have a clue either. Takes them a lengthy plebicite to build a sidewalk. This in the end is just a write-off for Springer - rather than dismantling the whole operation as they should - he now has the saviour - burp,burp - Mavety in to save the day. It's not going to happen bacause they have little talent after their one line as Mavety traded for any and every 4th liner he could get lol. They don't even have one decent prospect.

Anonymous said...

I love the quote on the Kingston Whig in which Cassidy says that he was unable to change the "culture" of the team. The team definitely follows a culture of defeat. The ownership and the general manager do not listen to an experienced coach and continue to view their team through rose colored glasses. They believe they can win with a team full of agent overstuffed teenage egos.