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