Not too long ago I listed my preferred coaching lineup to some extent on this blog. Now I'll explain my selections, first up, Steve Ludzik:
Head Coach - Steve Ludzik
Most of you will know him from seeing him on The Score breaking down games or highlights or having hockey discussions. While he is on the flamboyant side; he will not go completely overboard like some hockey personalities we know have a tendency to do. He stays very much within the acceptable range. He seems quite knowledgeable when it comes to the game which is obviously a prerequisite for any coach; but he also seems to be a very positive person in his commentary and thoughts. This is an often overlooked quality that seems to be present in a majority of coaches that excel. I think this quality is certainly an asset we need in a new coach. His approach to analysis is well-rounded in that he not only breaks down individual players and their talents/habits but also the team game and bigger picture items. Many hockey personnel seem to gravitate heavily to one particular part of the wide range of required hockey knowledge; a successful head coach should be balanced in this regard and Ludzik is.
As for experience; he certainly has that. He played nearly 500 NHL games and did alright for himself as well as putting up some very respectable minor league numbers, especially for a smaller player in an era of increasingly larger opponents. He last played professionally in 92-93.
Subsequent to his playing career he became a coach; making it to the position of Head Coach of the Detroit Vipers of the IHL in 96-97. In 3 years at Detroit he'd average over 50 wins and bring 1 championship, 1 finals loss and 1 third round loss to the team.
After his third season with Detroit he was hired on to coach the 99-00 Tampa Bay Lightning. This was Vinny Lecavalier's second season in the league and their 3rd leading scorer was Mike Sillinger. Their starting goalie was Dan Cloutier. Needless to say it was not pretty.
His second season Lecavalier missed significant time and Tampa didn't win too many more games. Brad Richards burst on the scene with 62 points as a rookie. Kevin Weekes and Dan Cloutier couldn't stop a beach ball. He was fired part way through. John Tortorella came in after that...you know the rest.
Going to the Ice Dogs of the OHL, Ludzik led them to their best season in franchise history at the time, coaching Rob Schremp and Patrick O'Sullivan through what were likely some tough times. Unable to agree to a new deal for the coming season, he was replaced with Greg Gilbert. The IceDogs continued to improve led by O'Sullivan, Schremp was moved 3 games into the season.
Ludzik then coached the San Antonio Rampage for parts of 2 seasons; having an excellent finish to 03-04 before a disappointing but unique 04-05 (lockout).
I'm unable to find what exactly happened after the lockout year.
What seems clear from his record though is that there are a number of young players who began taking steps forward under his coaching; and that his teams win not that long after he's been coaching them. He's never had a real chance to coach for an extended period of time. Perhaps we should give him a shot.
I like his style, he has experience with some of our players, he knows Bouwmeester if that happens, he has an aggressive hockey mind and is young but experienced. A lot of potential even if he doesn't necessarily have a sparkling NHL record thus far. Guys who get in as young as he did often take a while to develop the little things. I think he may be ready and I hope management at least considers him.