Monday, November 17, 2008

Fronts: Gilmour to coach; that oughta hold the little SOBs

The fact Doug Gilmour is coaching the Kingston Frontenacs with the same rotten regime in place is enough reason to question his judgment.

No doubt Fronts owner Doug Springer and GM-for-life Larry Mavety have made the same promises to Gilmour, or as he shall henceforth be known as, Dougie!, that they made to Bruce Cassidy, Jim Hulton -- how's the weather down there in Florida, Jimmy? -- and Greg Bignell. For the uninitiated, those are the last three coaches that Mavety and Springer undermined.

There is no way to call this to a hockey move. The only way to feel good about it is if Gilmour is trying out the coaching side before he buys the team lock, stock and barrel. Otherwise, this is intended to keep the diehards from organizing a Bring Your Own Pitchfork night at the K-Rock Centre. The Frontenacs announced this on a Monday, with a home game coming up against Belleville on Friday -- plenty of time to sell tickets. That is the closest Kingston comes to having any long-term vision -- a home game four days away.

Gilmour, God love 'em, if I could still squeeze into my old No. 93 sweater that I wore faithfully across the mid-'90s, I would -- has six months' coaching experience as an assistant coach with the AHL's Toronto Marlies, the Leafs' farm team. That's all, aside from the bit of dubious team imitating dubious art that Andrew pointed out over Sporting Madness:
More revealing, though, is Gilmour's recent cameo [Miss 604] in the soon-to-be-released Slap Shot 3: The Junior League, a straight-to-DVD movie. Perhaps he enjoyed seeing a gong show of a junior franchise on film and decided he'd go for the full experience? If so, he's certainly come to the right town: the Frontenacs are currently a bigger joke than anything in the movie will likely be.
Doug Springer, by dint of his actions, must believe the Kingston faithful are so stupid that they will turn out en masse to watch the same struggling team, just because it's Dougie! behind the bench instead of His Royal Mavesty. Kingston fans are not stupid. That is there is a sea of empty seats at the K-Rock Pot.

Gilmour, having worked for the Leafs, at least has some experience working with a dysfunctional outfit. He is an icon in his hometown and across Ontario, but this move is small-town cheap. It is straight out of the Bush-Cheney school of management -- put a newbie in charge of something, so he will be easier to control, and then tell him, "Dougie, you're doin' a heck of a job."

The only improvement one can foresee is that maybe Dougie!, having done the dance in Canada's media capital, Toronto, will actually go on the post-game show after embarrassing losses. Springer, Mavety and assistant coaches Tony Cimellaro and Darren Keily apparently don't feel is part of their job descriptions, even though taxpayers built a $43-million arena for their team.

The reality of this is that the Springer Frontenacs are putting a celebrity ex-player behind the bench. Did Gilmour take this after getting turned down by The Surreal Life? Loose Pucks has noted that His Royal Mavesty "will resume his duties as being strictly the General Manager of the Frontenacs," which should send a chill down any thinking person's spine.

For god's sake, Mavety the great GM can barely be bothered to scout a player before he trades for him -- he just makes moves based on the assurances the team he's trading with and what he half-remembers the player doing against Kingston. Anyone in Kingston who is not suckling at the Springer teat will tell you as much.

One wishes Dougie! all the best, but honestly, if he's going to grow into becoming a good coach, it will not come in Kingston. This is small-town cheap. Springer played the experience card in August when he 'fessed up that he was keeping Mavety on as coach, some two months after it was first reported on the king of Kings' Offsides. Here's Springer, turning around and hiring someone with no experience.

The reality is that the house has slid off its foundation, so they decided to have it painted. Mavety's extensive coaching resume, as it's called in every Frontenacs press release, includes a 680-726-106 record. With the the Ottawa 67's Brian Kilrea in his final season, Mavety was perilously close to having people mention that he was in line to become the losingest coach in the history of the Ontario Hockey League. Kilrea has 34 more losses, but get this, he has almost 500 more wins (485, to be exact).

The Springer Frontenacs end up hiring another guy nicknamed Killer to avoid that embarrassment. A friend suggested this is analogous to hiring Gary Carter to manage the Blue Jays. It is the equivalent of hiring Joe Carter to manage the Blue Jays.

The Springer Frontenacs, of course, can burn through goodwill in no time flat. The positive feelings generated by the move to the new arena lasted about two weeks. Unless this is a first step to an ownership change, the only thing to say is shame on Doug Springer, shame on Larry Mavety, shame on anyone who peddles their party line and pretty please, pray for Doug Gilmour.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to

Update: The Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger's report notes, "Before accepting the job, Gilmour made it clear that he needed to return to Toronto at least one or two days a week in order to spend time with his sons Jake, 12, and Tyson, 10. Gilmour said the team was quite willing to accommodate his request."

Family has to come first, but who is going to run practices on those 1-2 days a week when Gilmour looking after his boys? The same guys who are doing such a great job with a team that has the worst power play in all of major junior hockey!

Thank you to all the sites who have linked here! Also, catch the Offsides broadcast from last Friday.


Andrew Bucholtz said...

Good take. Not a great situation for Gilmour, especially with Mavety staying on: there's a good chance he just becomes the buffer between management and the fans and media. Still, it is a head coaching job, and even a minimal improvement on the current Frontenacs' situation would look all right on his resume and maybe give him the chance to go on to something better. It will be nice to see a Frontenacs coach who bothers with post-game interviews, too.

Anonymous said...

Went to school with a number of Belleville players when Mav was "coach and GM" for the Bulls. "Worst coach ever" was a familiar refrain. His strategy was along the lines of "next 3" and occasionally order a fight or two. Guess that's why the Bulls for the most part sucked for so long, with the occasional year where luck conspired to put some real talented guys together who Mav couldn't ruin. Which was fine with me, I was a Petes fan.

Duane Rollins said...

I think Mav had a short shelf life in his early career--the '85 - '86 Bulls teams seemed to play for him. And, there was a certain type of kid--tough, borderline talents--that responded to him. Marty McShorley likely owes a lot to Mav and was the typical Bulls player during his time in Belleville (which says a lot. Belleville has Olympic sized ice. To take full advantage of the home ice advantage you want skilled players that can skate. Not brawlers, which Mav always favoured)

Anonymous said...

One thing that should be pointed out — what would Kilrea's record be if he had not had Mavety is in his division as a coach and GM for 25 years?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure exactly what the previous poster meant with the Kilrea-Mavety connection...explain please?

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a shot at Killer ... just a joke that we've had the greatest OHL coach ever and the worst coach ever in the same division for most of the last 25 years. No harm intended.

kinger said...

LISA: No, she hasn't changed! The only difference is her stupid cheap hat. She still embodies all the awful stereotypes she did before!


SMITHERS: But she's got a new hat!